Photo Credit: George Pimentel/WireImage;Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic
There's a great deal of mystery surrounding the months before Heath Ledger's untimely death -- and now supermodel Gemma Ward has added a new piece to the puzzle. Ward, 23, tells the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun that she and fellow Aussie Ledger had a "magical" romance four months before he died.
Ward, who appears in the upcoming Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides says that she and Ledger first met in New York City when they were struggling with similar personal issues ("things that I won't get into," she says).
"I kind of met him at first and said, 'Listen, my mum's living with me right now and I'm kind of going through a hard time and I'm not interested in having a serious relationship with somebody right now,'" Ward recalls. "And he was like, 'You know, um, let's just be there for each other through these hard times we're both going through.' And we developed a relationship and we started seeing each other."
The pair spent Christmas of 2007 together in their mutual home city of Perth, where they met one another's families. Ledger was 28, and Ward was 20 at the time. The model remembers it as an "incredible" moment away from their celebrity lives.
"We were able to not be in any kind of a spotlight and not have to be meeting with people or be hounded by press or anything," Ward says of the vacation. "We lived in a magical kind of world where we weren't intruded upon."
The couple returned to New York together, where Heath died less than a month later of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Ward doesn't say whether they were still dating when he died, but she did take his death to heart -- abruptly leaving the media spotlight for two years. This year, she's returning to her modeling, stage and film careers, and she treasures the memory of her time with Ledger.
"There was no one like him -- and no one will ever be like him," says his former girlfriend. "I'm just so grateful I got to meet him and get as close as I did with him."
In his final days, Ledger was also linked to Lindsay Lohan and Mary Kate Olsen.
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