A dozen members of Heath Ledger's family have come to Hollywood, and though it's still not known whether any of them will accept an Oscar on his behalf, they're already celebrating the late actor's legacy.
The twelve — Ledger's parents, stepparents, siblings and cousins — were guests of honor at a party thrown by Australians in Film to recognize Aussie Oscar nominees and introduce the inaugural recipient of the Heath Ledger scholarship Thursday night at the Chateau Marmont.
Family members quietly greeted guests as they sipped sparkling wine in a corner, declining to talk to the press.
Scholarship winner Oliver Ackland, who cites Ledger among his role models, was humbled by the honor.
"The fact that it is in his name means the world," said the 29-year-old actor. "I admired Heath and I admired the work that he chose, the path he created for himself. It shows a lot of integrity on his behalf … not just the choices he made but the way he went about it, in front of the camera and otherwise."
Ackland said was particularly nervous to meet Ledger's family Thursday.
"I think they could tell I was a bit nervous," Ackland said. "They just said, 'You'll be fine. Just be yourself.'"
Ackland shared e-mail addresses and a warm exchange with Ledger's sister Sally.
"She gave me a big hug and was just supportive," he said.
Australians in Film announced its Heath Ledger scholarship in June. Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams, mother of Ledger's daughter, Matilda, are among the benefactors.
Ledger died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose last year at age 28. He is the front-running nominee for the supporting actor Oscar for his role as the diabolical Joker in the Batman flick "The Dark Knight."
Other Australian nominees honored Thursday included Kirk Baxter, editor of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Catherine Martin, costume designer for "Australia," Lee Smith, editor of "The Dark Knight" and Ben Snow, visual effects for "Iron Man."
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