Ledgers unique presence
By RACHEL AFFLICK and AAP
WHEN Byron Shire woman Cassie Hanlon worked with actor Heath Ledger on his breakthrough movie Two Hands, she knew he would be a star.
Yesterday she was stunned by the death of the talented actor, who was just 28 years old.
Ledger was found dead in a Manhattan apartment by his masseuse and housekeeper when they could not rouse him from his bedroom.
New York police were investigating the possibility the Perth-born former Oscar nominee died from a drug overdose, as pills were found near his bed and scattered around his body.
Ms Hanlon yesterday said she was 'absolutely, totally shocked' by the news.
She met Ledger during her time as a make-up artist for the 1999 film Two Hands.
In the acclaimed Australian movie Ledger plays Jimmy, a young man who works in Kings Cross as a street promoter for a strip club
Ms Hanlon said the whole crew had been struck, even then, by the actor's unique screen presence.
"It was his first claim to fame really," Ms Hanlon said. "That's what got him recognised. When we walked away we thought: 'He's going to make it, he's special'."
Ms Hanlon described Ledger as a young man who was%very supportive of his family.
He was a private person and it was hard for him to deal with life in the media spotlight.
"I thought he was very professional and lovely to work with. He was very easy going but he took his work seriously," Ms Hanlon said.
The movie industry around the world yesterday reacted with grief to Ledger's death. His peers agreed he was one of Australia's best actors.
Ledger's parents Kim and Sally and sister Kate told reporters in Perth that his death was a terrible accident.
Larry Williams, grandfather to Heath Ledger's daughter, said the Australian actor's death was heartbreaking for everyone. Mr Williams, whose actor daughter Michelle Williams was once engaged to Ledger, described him as 'a great talent'.
It was terrible that Ledger's two-year-old daughter Matilda would grow up without her father, he said. "The saddest thing is his daughter whom he just loved dearly."