When Heath Ledger died in 2008, the world was in shock. The handsome Australian actor was just 28 years old — and he was at the pinnacle of his career. To his adoring fans, he seemed to have it all. So what really happened on the day of Heath Ledger’s death?

Though Ledger was enjoying success in his professional life, his personal life was falling apart. Not only was he reportedly abusing drugs, he was also struggling with insomnia — sometimes sleeping just two hours per night.

And his relationship with his beloved partner, Michelle Williams, had ended. Tragically, Ledger’s downward spiral would soon lead to his demise.

Officially, Heath Ledger’s cause of death was later attributed to an accidental overdose. But his path to self-medication was complicated, dark, and misunderstood.

Heath Ledger was born on April 4, 1979, in Perth, Australia. He seemed destined to be a star.

He was just 10 years old when he was cast in the lead role of Peter Pan at a local theater company. From there, things took off.

While he was still in school, Ledger took small roles in a few Australian movies and TV shows. By age 19, he had already made the leap to Los Angeles.

Starring in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You, Ledger quickly took Hollywood by storm. And from there, his star power only grew as he snagged roles in films like The Patriot and Monster’s Ball.