Why Michelle Williams' First Marriage To Phil Elverum Reportedly Failed

Alongside her Oscar-nominated acting chops, Michelle Williams' love life has also been a constant attraction in the Hollywood spotlight. She married director Thomas Kail in 2020, and the duo welcomed Williams' third child — and their second as a couple — in November 2022. Williams' history of star-studded relationships traces back to 1993, however, when she dated "Baywatch" costar Jeremy Jackson after meeting on set. In a 2011 interview with Howard Stern, Jackson even labeled the "Dawson's Creek" alum his "first crush." 

Williams most famously started dating "Brokeback Mountain" costar Heath Ledger in 2004, welcoming their daughter Matilda Ledger the following year. The two lived out their relationship in front of many a paparazzi lens before they eventually split in 2007. After Ledger's death at age 28 in January 2008 from an accidental drug overdose, Williams' next serious relationship didn't come until six months after his death. Williams began dating her "Synecdoche, New York" producer Spike Jonze in July 2008, but the two said their farewells the next fall. Williams admitted in late 2009 that she initially thought her Jonze romance "was the only thing that was going to save me from the pain," a notion she rejected later as "erroneous. 

Remaining publicly single for years after Jonze, the "Venom" star then dated several big stars (like Jason Segel, Cary Fukunaga, and Jonathan Safran Foer) before her low-profile marriage to musician Phil Elverum in 2018.However, the marriage lasted less than a year. Here's what reportedly went wrong in William's first, short-lived marriage. 

Did Michelle Williams and Phil Elverum rush their relationship?

In the end, Michelle Williams and Phil Elverum just weren't meant to be. After a secret wedding in July 2018, the "The Fablemans" star and the indie musician called it quits just nine months later in 2019. With Williams spotted at outings that April sans wedding ring, a source told People that their relationship was a case of too much, too soon. "She has too many responsibilities and jumped quickly into a permanent relationship without giving it a chance to work into something over time," the source explained. "There is a good bond between them, no animosity. It just didn't work out at this point."

The "Blue Valentine" star first confirmed her nuptials with Elverum — who records and performs under the name Mount Eerie — in a 2018 Vanity Fair profile. A secluded affair in the Adirondack Mountains, the ceremony only had a handful of witnesses, which included the couple's daughters (Williams had her then-13-year-old daughter Matilda from her relationship with Heath Ledger, and Elverum had a 3-year-old daughter from a prior marriage).

Luckily, her divorce didn't discourage Williams from marrying again, especially if, as the People insider claimed in 2019, "it is right for her and her daughter." Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2018, Williams opened up about finding love after Ledger's death in 2008. "I never gave up," she explained. "I always say to Matilda, 'Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.'"

Michelle Williams and Phil Elverum found each other after suffering respective tragedies

Michelle Williams and Phil Elverum's love story was truly one of triumph after tragedy. Introduced by mutual friends (Williams' best friend Busy Phillips, reportedly), the pair met in 2018 — two years after Elverum 's first wife, musician and artist Geneviève Castrée, died of pancreatic cancer. Her diagnoses came right after the birth of their daughter, and she died 16 months later. Elverum's 2017 album "A Crow Looked at Me" harrowingly and bluntly depicts his grieving process. (For instance, it opens with the lyric, "Death is real / Someone's there and then they're not.") Clearly, coping with the death of a partner and your child's parent are themes that resonate with Williams. Matilda, her daughter with the late Heath Ledger, also lost her father at a young age.

Although the pair have never publicly addressed this supposed trauma bonding, Williams seemingly hinted at finding catharsis in their relationship. As she told Vanity Fair in July 2018, "I've never once in my life talked about a relationship, but Phil isn't anyone else. And that's worth something ... I am finally loved by someone who makes me feel free." Wishing to pass this lesson in love on to daughter Matilda, Williams added, "Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole."