The death of Heath Ledger has brought a halt to production on Terry Gilliam's $30m The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus.

The Australian actor, who was found dead in a New York apartment on Tuesday, had a lead role in the Canada-UK coproduction. It was on hiatus after recently wrapping the first third of the film in the UK. Production was gearing up for another 40 days of shooting in Vancouver.

Co-written by Gilliam and Charles McKeown, the Faustian adventure fantasy features Christopher Plummer as the titular traveling magician who owes the devil his teenage daughter in exchange for a life of extraordinary powers. Ledger played a new and mysterious member of the troupe. He previously worked with Gilliam on The Brothers Grimm.

The new film is produced by William Vince of Infinity Pictures, Samuel Hadida of France's Davis Films and Amy Gilliam, the director's daughter. Mandate International is handling sales.

It's the second Gilliam title to face long odds. While it was shuttered for medical reasons rather than through tragedy, Gilliam's production The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ended when lead actor Jean Rocheforte became ill. Freak flash-floods also played a role.

Ledger's last completed picture is Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, in which he plays arch-nemesis The Joker opposite Christian Bale's Batman.