We've Got Hollywood Covered

Naomi Watts, Gary Oldman and Ryan Murphy Named as Judges for 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship (Exclusive)

The ninth annual scholarship honors the late actor by offering financial and educational assistance for emerging Australian talent attempting to break into Hollywood

Heath Ledger may be gone but his impact on Hollywood and aspiring Australian talent is far from forgotten.

Naomi Watts, Gary Oldman and Ryan Murphy are set to judge the ninth annual Heath Ledger Scholarship in honor of the late “Dark Knight” star, TheWrap has exclusively learned.

Australians in Film, a non-profit organization that serves as the industry guild for Australian entertainment professionals in Los Angeles, made the announcement on Wednesday. Applications are currently being accepted until the deadline on Tuesday, April 4, and the winner will be named at a gala dinner in June.

British actor Oldman appeared alongside Ledger’s iconic Joker in “The Dark Knight,” while Watts dated her “Ned Kelly” co-star from August 2002 to May 2004.

“Heath Ledger was one of the top actors of his generation. I am grateful and honored to be asked by AiF and the Ledger family to be on the judging panel for this year’s scholarship,” “Feud” creator Murphy said in a statement. “I am excited to see some of the new and remarkable young acting talent coming out of Australia right now.”

Kate Ledger, Heath’s sister and AiF Board member added: “The objective of the scholarship is to ‘smooth the way’ and ‘open doors’ allowing the recipient to focus all their energy and efforts on getting work. It’s such a thrill to diversify casting in Hollywood and we encourage everyone to apply.”

Watts, Oldman and Murphy will join fellow judges Bruna Papandrea (“Gone Girl,” “Wild,” “Big Little Lies”); Oscar-winning producer, Emile Sherman (“The Kings Speech,” “Lion,” “Top of the Lake”); executive producer, director, writer, Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “Stop- Loss,” “Carrie”); director, Gregor Jordon (“Two Hands,” “Ned Kelly”); actress, Jacqueline McKenzie (“The Water Diviner,” “Without a Trace,” “NCIS: Los Angeles”) and Ronna Kress, EVP Feature Casting, 20th Century Fox (“Deadpool,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Pirates of Caribbean”).

It was also announced Wednesday that Susie Dobson, the founder of the scholarship and casting director Ann Fay, one of the original judges, would join Kim Ledger as Official Patrons of the scholarship.

Established in 2008, the scholarship is open to all young and emerging Australian actors 18-35 years old. To date, $250,000 has been awarded to help the winners with career and educational opportunities in the U.S. Among the life-changing prizes for the the lucky winner are two return Qantas economy airfares from Australia to Los Angeles, seven-day California trip, living expenses and rental assistance in Los Angeles.

Last year’s winner, Ashleigh Cummings, will be seen in the upcoming feature “Pork Pie,” to be released by Studiocanal on May 4 in Australia. Previous winners include Matt Levett, Ryan Corr and Bella Heathcote.

Originally from Perth, Australia, Ledger starred in 19 films such as the highly-acclaimed “10 Things I Hate About You,” “The Patriot,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Monster’s Ball” and finally, “The Dark Knight.” He died in January 2008 at age 28, with the coroner ruling the cause of death as an accident, “resulting from the abuse of prescribed medications.”

With the support our Presenting Partners, Qantas, Visit California, Ausfilm and Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors, the winning recipient will receive:

  • Two return Qantas economy airfares from Australia to Los Angeles
  • Visit Californian 7 Day Californian trip
  • US$10,000 towards a living allowance in Los Angeles
  • US$5,000 rent assistance in Los Angeles
  • US$1,000 ride-sharing app credit to be used in Los Angeles
  • Group Acting classes and personal coaching from Lisa Robertson Studio and Nancy Banks Studio
  • Immigration services from Kate Raynor & Associates
  • Business management and US|Australian taxation advice from Protea Group International
  • Kitchen appliance package, including Juice Fountain Elite, Barista Express, Smart Oven Pro and Boss Blender from Breville
  • Yoga classes from YogaWorks
  • Gym classes from Training Mate
  • VIP tickets to Palm Springs International Film Festival & AFI Fest
  • AiF membership, which includes access to the creative workspaces, Charlie’s + Creative Collective at Raleigh Studios
  • Personal mentoring by Heath Ledger Scholarship Chair Felicity Price and Committee Member Damon Herriman
  • Other vouchers from Alfred’s Coffee, The Den Meditation and Cinespia, plus more to be announced.