Heath Ledger’s split from Michelle Williams and legal dispute over his daughter Matilda contributed to his unstable and sleepless state in the weeks before he died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose, according to the actor’s pal and mentor Terry Gilliam.
Gilliam was directing Ledger in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
The filmmaker told Vanity Fair that the wrangles over financial settlement and custody of his daughter “really made Heath snap.”
“He really thought he could do the right thing. He was trying to be decent and graceful, give her (Williams) whatever she wanted – the house, every f**king thing. But once it started going south, it went very quickly. He was overwhelmed by lawyers, and there were more and more of them, as if they were breeding,” the Australian quoted Gilliam as saying.
Gilliam said that the ordeal drove Ledger to work harder, to distract himself from his personal worries. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus cinematographer Nicola Pecorini said that Ledger was a regular pot smoker.
However, when it became a problem he “went clean as a whistle,” Pecorini told Vanity. He also stopped drinking.
The Oscar-winning actor’s voice coach Gerry Grennell told the magazine: “Heath would happily go to the bar, buy a round of drinks for friends, and come back and have a soda or juice, never once drinking alcohol.”
“Everyone has a different view of how he passed away. From my perspective, and knowing him as well as I did, and being around him as much as I was, it was a combination of exhaustion, sleeping medication … and perhaps the after effects of the flu. I guess his body just stopped breathing,” Grennell added.