Mel Gibson has paid a touching tribute to fellow Aussie Heath Ledger as part of an end-of-year review in a U.S. magazine.
The Mad Max star tells Entertainment Weekly he saw a lot of his own characteristics in Ledger, who he first met when the tragic star auditioned to play his son in 2000 movie The Patriot.
Gibson tells the publication he was impressed by the young actor's magnetism, even though his audition wasn't "polished".
The Braveheart star writes, "We all just wanted to watch the guy.
"On set, I felt a real connection with this kid. He had all the raw stuff... You wanted to say, 'Dude, just calm down and be yourself. It's good.'"
Gibson admits he was stunned when Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs last year (Jan08).
He adds, "When he passed, he was just about to take the next step. The terrible tragedy of his loss is all that potential. I wanted to see what he was going to do next."