Michelle Williams is known for her work in dark and tragic Oscar-nominated films like Brokeback Mountain and My Week with Marilyn, but she also lived through her own real-life loss and heartbreak.
At only 27 years old, Williams was forced to unexpectedly say goodbye to Heath Ledger, the man she once dated for three years and the father of her daughter, Matilda.
Although the pair had broken up prior to Ledger's death, due to an accidental overdose of prescription medications, the loss took a big toll on the actress.
Ledger and Williams met in 2004 on the set of Brokeback Mountain, and they fell in love at first sight. They became engaged a year later, and despite rumors that they were secretly married, they never made it down the aisle.
“I really don’t feel like I need a piece of paper to validate the love I have for her,” Heath explained. “She’s my soul mate.”
Unfortunately, the summer before the 10 Things I Hate About You passed, they decided to call it quits.
Tabloids even speculated that the breakup was one of the causes of Ledger's instability, but that was simply not true.
"Please respect our need to grieve privately," Williams said in a statement. "My heart is broken. 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."
Williams, who is known for being very private, made the decision to move away from Brooklyn after Ledger died. She and Matilda lived in Upstate New York to get away from the invasive media and paparazzi.
"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," said Williams' friend Daphne Javitch.
The actress made sure that media outlets implemented a protocol to stop publishing unauthorized photos of celebrity children. This was a move that would ensure Matilda would have a somewhat normal childhood.
But people weren't just curious about how the young girl was growing up, they also wanted to know if Williams would ever find love again.
Williams intensely private nature and the roles she's played over the last decade did not suggest that she was happy. But that's where many people have been wrong.
As a recent Vanity Fair article highlighted,"'private' is often conflated with 'sensitive' or 'fragile,' when in fact a fierce demand for privacy might mean a person is uncompromising and tough."
Those who are close to the actress know that she is doing very well in her private life, not only is she raising a bright and "energetic" daughter, she's recently been in a number of successful films, and has recently gotten married!
In her most recent interview with the magazine, Williams, who famously dated How I Met Your Mother star Jason Segel, confirmed that she and her partner, singer-songwriter Phil Elverum, were preparing to the tie the knot in a secret ceremony in the Adirondacks.
The nuptials, which took place prior to the article was published, was witnessed by "only a handful of friends and their two daughters." The couple opted to not release any photographs from the day.
In addition to having daughters, Williams and Elverum have losing a partner in common. The indie musician's wife, illustrator and musician Geneviève Castrée, died in 2015, four months after giving birth and 13 months after she was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer.
Williams doesn't talk about her newfound love much, but she calls what she shares with Elverum "very sacred and very special."
She explained that she "never gave up on love," but she has been looking for a person who would give her the "radical acceptance" she felt from Ledger.
"I always say to Matilda, ‘Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.’ "
Williams, who says she's "never once in my life talked about a relationship," is willing to open up about Elverum a little more because he "isn't anyone else."
"Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole," she continued. "I work to be free inside of the moment. I parent to let Matilda feel free to be herself, and I am finally loved by someone who makes me feel free."
She also felt that it was important to talk about being able to find happiness and love after a tragedy because someone else could relate.
"I don’t really want to talk about any of it," she admitted before adding, "But there’s that tease, that lure, that’s like, What if this helps somebody? What if somebody who has always journeyed in this way, who has struggled as much as I struggled, and looked as much as I looked, finds something that helps them?"
She reminded people to never settle when it comes to love.
"Don’t settle for something that feels like a prison, or is hard, or hurts you,” she said. “If it doesn’t feel like love, it’s not love."
We're so happy that Williams has finally found someone who makes her as happy as Ledger did. We can't wait to see what the future has in store for her and her blended family.