Michelle Williams was 25 when she became a mother, welcoming daughter Matilda in 2005 alongside her then-fiancé and Brokeback Mountain co-starring Heath Ledger. Just over two years later, Ledger – with whom she was no longer romantically involved – died of an accidental overdose, following which Williams and their baby girl were swarmed by paparazzi.
In a new interview with the Guardianthe Oscar-nominated actress – now married to director Thomas Kail, with whom she shares 2-year-old son Hart and a newborn – talks about trying to put the pieces together while being followed by cameras around the neighborhood from Brooklyn, she and Ledger once called home.
“That feeling of being watched runs very, very deep,” says Williams, now 42, “because it gets in the way of you living your life. and unattended as my daughter and I moved out of town.
The Fabelmans The star moved her daughter — whom she calls “the person I spent my adult life with,” and therefore her best audience — to a farm in upstate New York.
“We lived in the country because I felt more capable of living an unnoticed life there,” the Montana native explains. “Particles move under observation. I definitely felt that when we lived in Brooklyn.”
Williams and her family have relocated to Brooklyn in recent years, though the actress acknowledges she still feels visible given her past experience with paparazzi there.
“I feel empowered and more capable, but I definitely have an awareness that I wish I could lose because it changes the way you move through the world,” she says.
Matilda is now 17 and Williams marvels at watching the teenager navigate a post-#MeToo world.
“I was raised in the 80s,” says the blue valentine star, who lobbied for pay parity in Hollywood. “Individuality wasn’t put in young women. And now it is. I can see it in my own daughter and I can’t take my eyes off her. It’s a glorious miracle to see that I never thought I’d see in my life.
She continues, “I thought I should teach my daughter to roll over and crawl under the system for protection. And, instead, the system has exploded and these young people are acting with compassion, integrity and righteousness.
“I get chills talking about it,” she adds. “These girls are not prey. These girls are already victorious. I like to sit and watch them out in the world and know that it’s safer and more leaning in their direction than it was for me.
Last year, Williams revealed actor Jeremy Strong was among the loved ones who moved into her Brooklyn home after Ledger’s shock death. She credits the Succession star to play with her daughter and help the child heal.
“Jeremy was serious enough to bear the weight of a child’s broken heart and sensitive enough to understand how to approach him through play, games and silliness,” Williams said. The variety.
“[Matilda] didn’t grow up with her dad, but she grew up with her Jeremy and we were changed by her ability to play like her life depended on it, just like hers,” she added.