The Dark Knight actor is recognized for his portrayal of the Joker on the day he was found dead in New York City

By Brenda Rodriguez
Updated January 22, 2009 01:00 PM
Credit: Jeff Vespa/WireImage

A year ago to the day that Heath Ledger was found dead inside his New York City apartment, the actor received an Oscar nomination for his wicked portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.

The actor’s family will hold a press conference Thursday at 6:30 p.m. PT at Cottesloe Beach in his hometown of Perth, Australia, one of the actor’s favorite spots and the site of his wake. Ledger, 28, died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

His mother, Sally Bell, told PEOPLE on Jan. 12 that her son “enjoyed” filming The Dark Knight. “He loved it,” she said. “There was no ‘dark side’ for him. He spoke with a smile on his face [and said] it was one of the best movie he had ever done.”

The actor won a Golden Globe for best supporting dramatic actor for his role as the Joker. Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan accepted Ledger’s posthumous award, and said he did so with “a mixture of sadness and incredible pride.”

Ledger is also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award.

“We really are bursting with pride for what he has achieved,” his mother said. “What I say to people is that it is such a fantastic and wonderful legacy for his daughter.”

The 81st Academy Awards will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 22, from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

With reporting by Melenie Ambrose

For Heath Ledger: Life in Photos, click here