Hollywood in Shock at Heath Ledger Death

Hollywood legend Mel Gibson led the tributes to Heath Ledger on Tuesday after the talented young Australian actor was found dead in New York.

This image provided by Focus Features shows actor Heath Ledger portraying the character Ennis Del Mar in the movie 'Brokeback Mountain'.

Oscar-winning actor-director Gibson -- who cast Ledger to play his son in 2001's US war of independence epic "The Patriot" -- described the 28-year-old actor's death as "tragic" in a statement.

"I had such great hope for him," Gibson said in the statement. "He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."

Australian screen star Nicole Kidman echoed Gibson's comments in a statement released to syndicated US television entertainment show "Extra."

"What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family," Kidman said.

Hollywood star John Travolta, in Australia to attend a benefit dinner, described Ledger as "one of my favorite actors."

"His abilities are rare...it's a tremendous loss," Travolta told "Extra." "It's hard to be here celebrating Australia under these circumstances."

Studio giants Warner Bros. said the entertainment industry had lost a "brilliant actor and an exceptional person."

Ledger, the Oscar-nominated star of gay cowboy drama "Brokeback Mountain," had recently completed filming on Warners' upcoming summer blockbuster "The Dark Knight," in which he plays Batman's arch-foe the Joker.

"The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news," Warner Bros chief Alan Horn and Warner Bros Picture Group president Jeff Robinov said in a statement.

"The entertainment community has lost an enormous talent. Heath was a brilliant actor and an exceptional person. Our hearts go out to his family and friends."

Ledger was found dead in a New York residence earlier Tuesday. Police sources told US media that prescription pills were found near the body and that signs pointed to either an accidental overdose or suicide.

Source: AFP

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