Williams and Ledger started dating in 2005 after meeting on the set of Brokeback Mountain. They welcomed Matilda in October of that year, but they went their separate ways in October 2007. Ledger died in January 2008 at age 28 due to an accidental drug overdose, leaving Williams all alone with their little one.
Shortly after the Dark Knight actor’s passing, the Dawson’s Creek alum and Matilda moved out of their Brooklyn home to rural upstate New York due to excessive attention from the paparazzi. Williams’ friend Daphne Javitch, a holistic-nutrition coach, moved in with her after Ledger’s death to help her cope with the loss as the world watched her grieving process unravel.
“To have that kind of attention in such an aggressive way, around you and your child, when so much of it is coming from what truly is tragedy for a family … it’s a kind of violence,” Javitch told Vanity Fair in July 2018. Williams added to the publication, “It was unmanageable to be stalked like that, every moment of the day. So I left, in a desire to create a sane home environment.”
Williams’ best friend, Busy Philipps, added that the Greatest Showman actress struggled to mourn in the public eye. “She always had a difficult time with the idea of doing press and what to reveal,” she explained to Vanity Fair. “And then when Heath passed away, and people had this insatiable interest in her and her child and their grief, it was overwhelming and incredibly painful.”
The Cougar Town alum also weighed in on Williams and Ledger’s relationship in her 2018 memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little, revealing her belief that they would reunite. “[Heath] and Michelle were in the process of separating at this point,” Philipps wrote, referencing her 2007 surprise wedding to screenwriter Marc Silverstein. “I felt sad for both of them, but weirdly, like something would be figured out and it wasn’t the end of the story for them. They were so young and that baby was the light of both of their lives. They were just working all the time and it was complicated. S–t is always complicated. Especially when you’re 28. And movie stars. With a baby.”
Williams slowly picked up the pieces, marrying musician Phil Elverum in July 2018, only to split less than a year later. Us Weekly confirmed in December 2019 that the Golden Globe winner was engaged to Hamilton director Thomas Kail and pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Scroll down to revisit Williams’ most heartwarming anecdotes about Ledger and Matilda.