Don Arnold/WireImage; Dara Kushner/INFGoff
03/03/2008 AT 01:45 PM EST
After expressing an initial wish to steer clear of the subject of Heath Ledger
, to whom she had been linked, Australian model Gemma Ward is now speaking out about him.
"I think he operated from the heart. He really, really knew that if he was going to make a decision to be in a film, then he needed to be really committed to it," Ward, 20, tells Australia's Sydney Morning Herald
"He wasn't afraid to fight with people involved, he wasn't afraid to perhaps piss people off," she said of Ledger, 28.
Ledger also gave advice to Ward, who has a budding career as an actress and stars in the upcoming film The Black Balloon
. "He told me to always be a punk and 'stand up for yourself'."
– Stephen M. Silverman