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‘I Am Heath Ledger’ footage shows late actor in younger, happier days

The upcoming documentary about the late actor Heath

The upcoming documentary about the late actor Heath Ledger, above seen in 2006, is a compilation of film sequences shot by Ledger and interviews with friends and family. Credit: AP / Dima Gavrysh

In advance of the premiere of a documentary on Heath Ledger, family members and friends of the late actor spoke of how the movie will make him more tangible to his daughter Matilda, who was 2 when he died in 2008.

“You can tell her about things, but with her being able to visually see his movement and his expressions, it’s almost like he had actually filmed the documentary himself and pieced it together for her,” Ledger’s sister, Kate, tells People magazine in its new issue. Ledger and his then-girlfriend, “Manchester by the Sea” star Michelle Williams, had Matilda in 2005, a year after the stars had met and worked together on “Brokeback Mountain.”

“Everything she does, her movement, I suppose, reminds me of Heath,” Kate Ledger said of her niece. “I think the first five years after Heath passed, every time I’d see Matilda [I] would be in tears. Now, I am really happy that I am at a stage that I can see Matilda and be happy and feel her daddy’s energy through her.”

“He was a natural, he knew what to do with a baby right away,” Ledger’s close friend, filmmaker Matt Amato, told People. “I said, ‘How come you are so comfortable with this?’ He said, ‘Well, I look at her and try and be her and try to understand what she needs.’ . . . I hope she remembers the way he would spin her around and call her darling and her excitement seeing him,” he added. “They really did have something wonderful.”

The magazine also posted footage from the film, “I Am Heath Ledger,” featuring the actor in younger days and looking happy as he fools with a camcorder, strums an acoustic guitar and plays with a basketball indoors.

The Australia-born Ledger died of an accidental prescription-medicine overdose at age 28. After earning an Academy Award nomination for best actor for “Brokeback Mountain,” he won a posthumous supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“I Am Heath Ledger” will air on Spike TV on May 17, following its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 23 and a one-night theatrical screening on May 3. Virgil Films will then release it streaming and on DVD May 23. The film features publicly unseen footage shot by Ledger himself, plus interviews with actors including Emile Hirsch, Djimon Hounsou and Naomi Watts and directors Catherine Hardwicke and Ang Lee.

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