When it came to fatherhood, Heath Ledger was a “natural.”
Nine years after the actor’s death, Ledger’s closest friends and family came together on Sunday to remember him at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of the documentary I Am Heath Ledger, where they opened up about intimate details of his life.
“He was just a natural dad,” Ledger’s longtime friend Matt Amato said during a panel talk moderated by PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle. “I met Matilda three days after she was born and they were just a beautiful painting together.”
“He just held her and would wrap her in her blanket,” Amato — who, along with producer Sara Cline, co-founded the music and film company The Masses with Ledger — said of Matilda, the actor’s daughter with his Brokeback Mountain costar Michelle Williams. “He wasn’t treating her in any precious way, he was just natural and just trusted the whole thing, and I was really struck by that. And that’s kind of how it always was.”
Williams has raised Matilda on her own for nine years since Ledger’s death from an accidental overdose inside a Manhattan apartment on Jan. 22, 2008. He was 28.
I Am Heath Ledger provides an insightful look into his life as a movie star and a father, as well as his troubled final days.
During the panel, Ledger’s older sister Kate Ledger and half-sister Ashleigh Bell addressed misconceptions surrounding their brother’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Following Ledger’s death, reports circulated that playing the dark character led the actor down a path of depression.
“Every report was coming out that he was depressed and it was taking [its] toll and we were going, ‘What?’ ” said Bell.
In fact, Kate insisted that the actor enjoyed his time playing the iconic villain.
“Honestly, it was the absolute opposite,” said Kate. “It couldn’t be more wrong. He had an amazing sense of humor and I guess only his close family and friends really knew that. But he was having fun, he wasn’t depressed about the Joker.”
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They also discussed Ledger’s feelings on fame and Hollywood, revealing that the actor thought it was all “rubbish.”
“To make the film is the fun part. To promote it is work, and I think that’s what he really struggled with, was putting himself out there and being a salesman and promoting the film,” said Kate.
“I have a good story about what he thought of Hollywood,” recalled Amato. “He came over the morning after the Academy Awards still in his tux with his tie undone and he opens up the door and he goes, ‘Rubbish!’ So he would hate this, too.”
“He would much rather make a movie about [the people that he really loved] than watch a movie about himself,” added Amato. “But yeah, he thought it was all rubbish.”