After the recent discovery of Heath Ledger's revealing 'Joker Diary' - a relic of the late actor's extreme dedication to his now iconic, Oscar-winning role - many believe that Ledger's obsessive commitment to inhabiting the Clown Prince of Crime's unhinged state of mind might have contributed to his tragic death.
However, the same documentary from which the Joker Diary footage comes - entitled Too Young To Die - suggests that the pressures compromising the actor's psychological state didn't come from filming The Dark Knight, but in fact stemmed from his constant and merciless harassment at the hands of the paparazzi.
Destined for Greatness
From a very young age, the bright young star knew exactly what he wanted, and was determined to make it happen. In the documentary, Kim Ledger, Heath's father, emotionally recalls the moment his son told him he was going to become a movie star:
"One night I was lying on the bed with him in his room and he was exhausted. I said 'Heath, you better go to sleep.' He was lying on the back of his bed looking up at these stars which he had pasted on the ceiling."
"He was looking up there and he said 'Dad, get used to it, this is what my life is going to be all about: lots of late nights. I'm going to be committed to this business. I'm going to be in film, and I'm going to do well at it.' I'll never forget that."
That self-assured, ambitious drive is highly admirable, though in hindsight Heath's star-gazing optimism now seems deeply tragic, knowing where his success would ultimately lead him.
"It was destroyed for him. It had been violated by fame."
After breaking into A-lister status, Heath was pursued by paparazzi wherever he went and frequently found himself overwhelmed by fame's invasive downsides. The paparazzi even went as far as to fire water pistols at Heath in order to provoke a reaction from him on the red carpet. Take a look at the rather shocking footage below:
The press hounded him relentlessly, even forcing him to abandon his own home in Sydney, Australia, which he had spent years pouring his heart and soul into.
"Most of the time you don't even know they're there. Now, that's the scary thing. It's really strange and invading," Heath once told the National Post. However, when the good humored actor did spot paparazzi hovering outside his house, he made it abundantly clear where he felt they should go:
It's also believed that the pressure from the press contributed to Heath's marital problems, leading to his eventual break up with Michelle Williams, the mother of his only child.
It was not long after this that Heath died alone in his hotel room, succumbing to a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs.
While Heath may have foreseen his path to fame, he couldn't have imagined what it would take away from him: his privacy, his home, and ultimately his life.