Michelle Williams has kept a relatively low profile since Heath Ledger, the father of her daughter, Matilda, tragically died in January 2008. Who can blame her? Every time Williams and her little girl step out the door of their Brooklyn brownstone, the paparazzi are ready to pounce. In an attempt to shield her child from intrusive photogs and unnecessary coverage in the tabloids, the actress has been extremely reluctant to give interviews … until now.
“I didn’t know what my boundaries were for a long time, which made interviews feel very unsafe,” she shares in Vogue’s October issue. “I can talk about grief, because that’s mine; about single parenting; about trying to balance work and kids. But what I don’t have to talk about is what happened between Heath and me in our relationship.”
Clearly, the actress adored Ledger, whom she met while filming “Brokeback Mountain.” “[It] was an unrepeatable moment in time, a very charmed time in my life,” she recalls. “I was in love; I was in a movie I was proud to be a part of, and with a beautiful brand-new baby. Everything was good in that moment.”
Then Ledger unexpectedly passed away due to an accidental drug overdose and Williams was left to raise Matilda on her own. How did she cope? “I was holding it together by a string and a paper clip in the fall and winter,” she reveals. “I didn’t know if I could keep it all together. You console yourself by saying it’s all a deepening process. But it’s weird. After the first year, the pain is less intense; it’s less immediate. But the magical thinking goes away too. And that’s a whole new reckoning. But every time I really miss him and wonder where he’s gone, I just look at her [Matilda].”
Although she was recently dating director Spike Jonze, their romance was short-lived. “The timing was impossible,” she confesses. “I thought falling in love again was the only thing that was going to save me from the pain. This erroneous idea: It just makes things more complicated.”
Despite her single status, Williams feels “hopeful and grateful” about her and her daughter’s future. “For a while I thought we had lost everything,” she says. “It makes you want to love better and live better.”