Break out the tissues, people, 'cause we're about to dabble in some sadsies.
April 4 is the late, great Heath Ledger's birthday, and we sure are feeling sappy about it right about now. The Australia-born actor, who rose to acclaim swiftly in his much-too-short career, would have turned 36 years old this year, and we can only imagine his trophy shelf would've been pretty stacked by now if things had turned out differently for the then-28-year-old rising star. Sigh.
One thing is for sure, though. We just can't quit Heath Ledger (and we don't want to, either).
Eight years after his untimely passing, we're still queuing up his final "Brokeback Mountain" scenes for a good ugly cry session. 'Cause he was sooo good.
Heath Ledger wasn't just a legend in the making; he was truly unforgettable. Here are just a few of the reasons why.
He had a perfect smile.
Heath Ledger didn't always play the tough guy-slash-villain. Sure, his most iconic movie moments involved prosthetic facial scarring and water-run clown make-up and/or a cowboy hat and a stiff upper lip (more about that later). But the first thing that got our attention about him was his big, bright cheeseface.
It was glowy and authentic and wonderful.
Fact: His smile was and remains the one and only reason one should ever watch "A Knight's Tale." Seriously.
He was a straight up hunka hunka.
Before the Hemsworths, there was Heath. He revived the Aussie hotboy tradition, starting with his slick and mysterious Patrick Verona in "10 Things I Hate About You." Who wasn't instantly ripping teeny bopper mags off the shelves to pin him up to their closet door after that movie came out and dreaming of their own gym yard sonata? Pssha. It was written.
He always stole the show.
Name the Heath Ledger movie, and there you have a Heath Ledger movie. No matter what part he had on-screen, he was always a scenestealer.
Admit it. He was the kid you got most choked up about in "The Patriot," and you didn't even notice the other boys when he was there in "Lords of Dogtown." He was totally there in "I'm Not There," and even though Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell came into pinch hit for "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," his was the performance you walked away thinking about.
And it goes without saying that his run as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" sealed his place as one of the most iconic movie villains of all time. Unquestionably.
He was fearless.
Even though he did indulge in his fair share of cinematic stinkers (ahem, "The Order"), he also took on some tough roles that other actors would, and did, shy away from. And he was all the better for it.
The most obvious example of that was his Oscar-nominated turn as Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback." He and Jake Gyllenhaal, both straight in real-life, gave their silver screened romance as a pair of star-crossed male lovers the exact amount of gusto it needed to tug on our heartstrings forever and ever.
Like, we seriously still cannot even watch that movie unless we are prepared to be done and done for the rest of the week.
(See also: "Candy.")
He was multi-talented.
He was just plain cool.
Part of what made all of the above true was the fact that Heath Ledger was also just very, very cool. Think Marlon Brando meets James Dean cool. That was him.
Heath had that same innate swagger and charisma about him that made him a delight to watch. It's just science; he was magnetic to eyeballs and attention spans.
He wasn't done.
Heath Ledger's career ended on such a high note that we still can't help but wonder what he would have done next after owning us all so handily with his last few pictures. Would he have become a big, flashy Marvel superhero? Would he have laid low with some choosey indie fare? Would he have broken out as the Next Big Action Star? Whatever the choice, we're sure it would've been epic.
And now we've got something in our eyes.