Heath Ledger was about to start a long and successful career in Hollywood when he accidentally overdosed in 2008. Since then, his fans, friends, and family have been trying to imagine what could have been.
“If you’re this kind of person, the world’s your limit,” said celebrity photographer Ben Watts, who took many pictures of the Australian actor before he died at age 28. “What he did was really impressive.”
Now, 14 years after the “Brokeback Mountain” star died, Watts is putting out photos of Ledger that have never been seen before as limited-edition NFTs. Watts said, “This body of work is one of my favorites.”
It’s the first time the lensman has worked with cryptographic assets. He said, “I’m late to the party.”
Watts, who lives in Chelsea and is 55 years old, met Ledger at a restaurant in New York. His sister, actress Naomi Watts, dated Ledger for two years after they met on the set of the 2003 movie “Ned Kelly.”
Watts took skateboarding fan Heath Ledger to the Los Angeles River in 2004 for an assignment for Interview magazine. Ledger said it was “such a great day.”
“We were going up and down on a skateboard without holding on. “I was in the back of the car and was pulling him,” he said. “In some of the shots, you can see that I’m holding the tow rope and he’s holding onto it. He was thrilled.”
Watts, who was born in London and grew up in Australia, moved to New York in 1995. He also did publicity shots for “Ned Kelly,” including one in which Ledger points his fingers at his head like a gun.
Watts said about the strange snap, “I haven’t really given it much thought.” “I do something like that sometimes when I’m really upset or stressed out.”
Ned and Bob, two of the puppies that Ledger and Naomi Watts got, are in one of the 15 photos that will go on sale on MakersPlace, an NFT marketplace, on September 14.
The money from the sale will go to the Heath Ledger Foundation, which was set up after the “Knight’s Tale” star died to help young Australian actors get training.
Watts also said that the actor, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” after his death, was very involved in the process of taking pictures.
“I paint many portraits of famous people,” he said. “And it isn’t always what they like best.”