What Michelle Williams Has Said About Heath Ledger's Tragic Death

Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger's love story started as a fairy tale, sparked on the set of "Brokeback Mountain" in 2004. Their co-star Jake Gyllenhaal dished to E! News that their chemistry was off the charts from the get-go as the "two of them had googly eyes with each other" right from the rehearsals. It came as a surprise to no one that they immediately became an item. They welcomed a daughter named Matilda a year later, but sadly, in 2007, their romance took an unexpected turn when it was revealed that they had called it quits. Tragedy struck three months later when Ledger, at the tender age of 28 years old, abruptly passed away from an accidental overdose.

It took Williams quite some time to release a statement about his death. "Please respect our need to grieve privately," she noted weeks later through a representative. "My heart is broken." The "Blue Valentine" star opted not to disclose further details, save for the commitment that Matilda would grow up connected to her father. "All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day," Williams said. "She will be brought up with the best memories of him."

The mother and daughter felt compelled to move out of their home in Brooklyn and relocate to the countryside to escape the media's incessant intrusion, allowing Williams to lay low for a little while. But over the years, she has slowly opened up about Ledger's passing, noting that moving on from him had been an impossible undertaking.

There was a 'hole' in her life after Heath Ledger passed

Michelle Williams was inconsolable when Heath Ledger died. But in an appearance on "Nightline" in 2010, she shared that in the year following his passing, she coped by convincing herself that her former lover could come back at any time. "It didn't seem unlikely to me that he could walk through a door or could appear behind a bush," she explained. "It was a year of very magical thinking, and, in some ways, I'm sad to be moving further and further away from it."

When she finally came to terms with the fact that he was gone, it hit her like a gut punch. She couldn't believe how big of a void he left in her and Matilda's lives, but by no means did she ever attempt to replace him. "Very obviously, for me and for her, there's a hole in our life," Williams told Marie Claire in 2011. "Of course, the natural inclination is to want to fill it and make it disappear, but what I've come to recently is that it's impossible. Nothing will fit in that hole because what we want back we can't get, which is this one person."

The star admitted to Vogue she held it together "by a string and a paper clip," but after a year, her grief became a bit bearable, all thanks to Matilda who had always reminded her of her late lover. "Every time I really miss him and wonder where he's gone, I just look at her," she said (via Cosmopolitan).

Michelle Williams never thought she'd find love again

Michelle Williams had become quite the cynic when Heath Ledger died. In a 2017 interview with WSJ Magazine, she shared that after everything she's been through, she found it difficult to imagine herself having a happily ever after. While she had been involved in a few relationships, she didn't see herself getting married. "The romantic idea of meeting your person and having a storybook family life that looks like the model you grew up with — that doesn't really exist for me," she said. 

However, she did tell Vanity Fair that there was a small part of her that held on to hope that she would eventually meet someone who loved her as Ledger did. "I never gave up on love," she shared. "I always say to Matilda, 'Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.'"

Williams went on to marry Phil Elverum in 2018, although their marriage was short-lived. In 2020, she tied the knot with director Thomas Kail, with whom she welcomed two more children. But even before she settled down with someone else, she found peace and stability with Matilda. "Not only are we OK, she's happy," she told Porter Magazine (via ABC News). "Life has brought us to a place that's not just surviving, but thriving."