Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams’ daughter, Matilda, was only 2-years-old when the actor died, and since then, the actress has meticulously shielded her from Hollywood’s prying eyes.
In 2008, fans were left heartbroken when Heath died of an accidental drug overdose. The Dark Knight, for which he posthumously won an Oscar, was months away from its big screen debut, while the unfinished The Imaginarium of Doctor Paranassus had to enlist different actors to fill for Heath. His death shocked many. He was only 27.
Despite the devastating loss, media outlets were unstoppable from digging into Heath’s life, particularly what he was doing months before he passed away. Speculations have emerged as to why he relied on drugs. It didn’t take long before the spotlight focused on the young Matilda.
When Heath died, Michelle asked people through a statement to give the family a chance to grieve privately.
“I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still. She will be brought up in the best memories of him.”
Nine years later, the interest in Matilda is still there, but Michelle is as determined as before to give her a quiet life despite her parent’s enviable career. One of the things Michelle did was to get her daughter out of the city. They left Brooklyn and now reside in the country. She recently told Elle via E! Online that a life constantly watched by many is something she wouldn’t like for Matilda.
“If you feel like people are watching you, it’s impossible to have an authentic experience of being alive. There’s a performative aspect and a guardedness, and that’s just death. I don’t know how to live like that, and I don’t know how to give a life to my child like that.”
The Louis Vuitton ambassador likewise credits Kristen Bell, her “personal hero,” for her action to stop media outlets from snapping and publishing unauthorized photos of the celebrities’ children. Michelle claims that the photo ban truly changed their lives. She admits sending an email from time to time to Kristen to thank her for Matilda’s happiness.
In a 2015 interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Heath’s sister, Kate, acknowledged Michelle’s effort to give Matilda, who fans described as Heath’s spitting image, a normal childhood.
“Michelle really does keep things real for Matilda. And her existence, although different from most, is as normal as possible in an abnormal world,” she remarked.
Heath and Michelle’s romance blossomed on the set of Brokeback Mountain. During promotional tours and press interviews, the two were quick to praise each other. Fatherhood made Heath happy, for he previously described it as “the most remarkable experience” of his life.
The two parted ways in 2007, but when Heath died, many have seen how Michelle was still very much in love with him.
After Heath’s death, the Manchester by the Sea actress has dated director Spike Jonze, author Jonathan Safran Foer, and actor Jason Segel.
At 36, Michelle admits that it’s tough to have romantic ideals because of the knowledge that she can already do things on her own. She told the Wall Street Journal that the “romantic idea of meeting your person and having a storybook family life” is nonexistent for her.
Nonetheless, even without a love interest, Michelle maintains that life is wonderful because watching Matilda grow is already a reason to celebrate.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]