Heath Ledger was only 28 when he died, and yet the variety of work he left behind and the heights he reached in so little time remain impressive to this day.
The Australian star was found dead in his New York apartment on Jan. 22, 2008, eight years ago today, so we've sadly only had the archive to turn to for quite a while now—though what an archive.
From his charmingly roguish high school student in 10 Things I Hate About You (seriously, is there ever a time when you pass that movie on cable and don't watch?)...
Touchstone/Buena Vista Pictures
...to his career-for-the-ages-making turn as Ennis Del Mar in the seminal romantic epic Brokeback Mountain, Ledger was just so magnetic in everything he did, it's usually a bad idea to get too caught up in thinking what more he could have done...if.
But enjoying what he did do remains ever necessary!
Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Then, of course, there was his haunting performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight that won him a posthumous Academy Award; period fare such as The Patriot, A Knight's Tale, Casanova and The Four Feathers that spanned genres; and the subtly stellar turns in dramas such as Monster's Ball, I'm Not There and Candy. It even took a whole trio—Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law—to fill his reinterpreted shoes in Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which was still in production when he died.
Ledger was survived by his parents and siblings and his daughter, Matilda, who's now 10, with Michelle Williams.
But while Jan. 22 can't help but remind us of one of Hollywood's sad days, another life lost to drug abuse, it's still an opportune time to celebrate an artist's work—and perhaps remind the generation that just missed 10 Things in theaters about one of the young greats who was gone too soon.