Hometown to Honor Heath Ledger with Theater

07/01/2008 at 10:05 AM EDT

Hometown to Honor Heath Ledger with Theater
Heath Ledger
Michael Caulfield/AP
Perth, Australia, is getting a new landmark: a $87 million, 575-seat auditorium named for a native son, the Heath Ledger Theatre.

Western Australia state Premier Alan Carpenter said at a dedication ceremony Tuesday that the name was appropriate, given how supportive the late actor had always been for fellow young performers, the Associated Press reports.

"Heath Ledger was totally dedicated to the craft of being an actor and that's what made him successful," Carpenter said. "I think what we're doing is continuing that support for young people who want to make a career in the arts and acting, stage and in film, whatever it happens to be."

Also in attendance: Heath's father, Kim Ledger, who considered the honor to his son a pleasant surprise.

"He was such a giver to the arts right across the board. I really feel that there's not a lot of things he'd put his name to, but he'd put his name to that," said the elder Ledger, who also said he and other family members were planning to attend this month's New York premiere of The Dark Knight – the Batman adventure in which Heath plays the Joker and is receiving posthumous Oscar buzz.

Kim Ledger also said that the praise being heaped upon Heath's performance is making his family's private grieving all the more difficult.

"It's just been a little more public, and the films make it a little more public, as well," he said. "It's been a little bit hard, but we've always been extremely proud of his work and that hasn't changed."

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