Outside his Broome Street apartment in Soho on Tuesday, fans quickly built a makeshift memorial, with flowers, candles, and, – taped to the building – a photo of Ledger and notes that said, in a reference to his breakout U.S. film 10 Things I Hate About You: "How could anyone find 10 things to hate about you? We couldn't find one bad thing."
Friends of the actor's at one of his regular New York City haunts, the Greenwich Village restaurant The Spotted Pig, expressed shock. Ken D. Friedman, the eatery's owner, tells PEOPLE, "All of us at the Pig are devastated. He was such a sweet man. Such a tragic loss. He lit up the room."
Sadness in BrooklynIn Brooklyn, around the neighborhood where Ledger once lived with Michelle Williams and 2-year-old daughter Matilda, locals were stunned by the news. Mary Gannett, one of the owners of BookCourt on Court Street near Ledger and Williams's former home, tells PEOPLE: "We're all devastated by this."
"This is really hard for me," she adds. "They were such lovely people. They'd come in often with their daughter and read to her in the back children's area. They always looked happy. They were just like any other Brooklyn parents.
Gannett noted that Ledger "doted on his daughter, was very loving." She also saw him often around the neighborhood. "He'd skate up and down Court street by himself every now and then. We'd see him go by and we could tell it was him because of his pink ski hat. I'm very upset by this. I haven't seen him since the summer."
Meanwhile, across the globe, Australian officials also spoke out on the death of their native son. Said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: "It is tragic that we have lost one of our nation's finest actors in the prime of his life. Heath Ledger's diverse and challenging roles will be remembered as some of the great performances by an Australian actor."
By LESLEY MESSER, BETH PERRY, MOLLY LOPEZ and ALYSSA SHELASKY
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