01/22/2008 at 07:00 PM EST
Hollywood reacted with shock Tuesday to the death of Heath Ledger
"I had such great hope for him," says Mel Gibson, a fellow Australian. "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."
Another Aussie, Nicole Kidman, says: "What a tragedy. My heart goes out to his family."
Ledger, 28, died just days after the death another young actor, 25-year-old Brad Renfro,
who starred in The Client
and Apt Pupil.
Ledger, nominated for an Academy Award for Brokeback Mountain,
appears in the upcoming Batman
feature The Dark Knight
as the Joker, and was shooting The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
at the time of his death.
"Heath Ledger was a courageous actor, and a great soul. He gave us the
gift of sharing his fearless and beautiful love – of his craft, and of
all who worked with him – for which all of us will be eternally
grateful," says James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features and the the producer of Brokeback Mountain.
In a statement issued by Warner Bros., which is producing The Dark Night,
Alan Horn, president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros., and Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said: "The studio is stunned and devastated by this tragic news. 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."
Heath Ledger: Life in Photos:
See all the actor's most recent photos – from life as a dad to being an Oscar nominee