Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger split -- With their busy schedules keeping them apart, the Aussie actors part amicably

By Gary Susman
Updated October 01, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Looks like ”The Ring” star Naomi Watts won’t be getting a ring from Heath Ledger anytime soon. The Aussie actors have split after a 16-month romance, Heath’s sister, publicist Kate Ledger, said in a statement. ”Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts have made the decision to go their separate ways,” the statement read. ”At this time in their lives both are busy pursuing careers which are taking them in different directions. They remain close friends.”

Watts, 35, and Ledger, 24, met in 2002 when they shot the Australian film ”Ned Kelly.” Since February, the couple had been shooting down reports that their romance was on the rocks, but the final split came a month ago, Kate Ledger told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.

Kate Ledger apparently meant the ”different directions” part literally. ”Le Divorce”’s Watts is currently in Manhattan, shooting the thriller ”Stay” with Ewan McGregor, while ”The Order” star Ledger is in Prague with Matt Damon, where they’re shooting ”The Brothers Grimm” for director Terry Gilliam. Figuratively, they’re also going in different directions. Watts has more than half a dozen prospective roles lined up over the next couple years, including the drama ”21 Grams” (coming out next month), a ”Ring” sequel, and an offer to star in Peter Jackson’s ”King Kong.” Ledger’s dance card, after ”Grimm,” is empty.