Nine years after Heath Ledger’s death, members of his inner circle share memories of his zest for life and his troubled final days. Subscribe now for the emotional new details and never-before-seen photos — only in PEOPLE.
Always with a camera in hand, Heath Ledger captured his nervous excitement on his first day of shooting 2000’s The Patriot.
In never-before-seen footage, debuted exclusively on PEOPLE and included in the upcoming Spike TV documentary I Am Heath Ledger, the actor films himself alone in his trailer on his first day of shooting, talking about the long months of anticipation he endured before starting on the Revolutionary War epic.
The Patriot, costarring Mel Gibson, would become a breakout film for the actor, who was just coming off his first turn as a teenage heartthrob in 10 Things I Hate About You. The footage, part of hours of home movies Ledger filmed before his death in 2008, is part of Spike TV’s upcoming documentary, I Am Heath Ledger.
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“So this is [my] first day shooting; this is first on The Patriot for me,” Ledger tells the camera. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s been three months since I found out I got this job, and finally, after three months of sitting around thinking about it, I get to go do it. This is it. So blink my eyes and I’ll be out there.”
After Ledger gives an exaggerated blink to the camera, the footage cuts to some on-set action from the film, showing Ledger hiding behind a tree before taking aim at a group of British soldiers.
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In another never-before-scene clip from the documentary (above), Ledger films himself back home in Australia after completing the film. Sitting bundled up by the beach, he explains that he will soon be catching a flight back to Los Angeles.
“It’s good, I’m happy to be finished,” he says. “It was long, but it was really fun though — and they’re really great people.”
Trevor DiCarlo, a friend of Ledger’s who is interviewed in the documentary, then explains that fellow Aussie native Mel Gibson had invited both of them to join him on his private plane back to L.A.
“It was definitely a moment,” DiCarlo says of the ride in Gibson’s private jet.
I Am Heath Ledger is set to premiere on Spike TV on May 17 following its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23. (The documentary will also have a special one-night theatrical release on May 3.)