The I Feel Pretty actress, 38, opened up about her relationship with Williams while discussing the “mixed” response she received after posting several social media tributes to Ledger on the tenth anniversary of his death in January.
“I think some people felt like I was being exploitative. I’ve never even really spoken about [Ledger’s death], because I never would want to have it be misconstrued in that way, but it was the ten-year anniversary,” Philipps told The Cut.
The actress went on to explain that she feels defensive of Williams and her 12-year-old daughter Matilda, who was just two when Ledger died of an accidental prescription overdose in January 2009.
“I can’t believe it’s been ten years. I was pregnant with [now 9-year-old daughter] Birdie,” Philipps said. “I had seen him a couple months earlier, and you know, [Williams and Ledger] were broken up. I’ve never talked about it. I’ve never shared it, because I’m hyper protective of [Williams] and her daughter. But I also think … I think it’s okay. Everyone’s allowed to have their own feelings about something that happens.”
She continued, “Certain people in the public feel protective of it. And they’re like, ‘You shouldn’t be talking about it.’” But, Philipps said she felt like she had the right to speak out as Williams’ “best friend” and “family.”
WATCH: Busy Philipps Cries in Car While Remembering Heath Ledger on 10-Year Anniversary of His Death
Philipps shared a photo of her view of the sunset from an airplane with a red heart emoji on the day of the anniversary. Then, hours later, she posted a follow-up selfie of her with Dawson’s Creek costar Williams.
“It’s ok,” Philipps wrote along with the picture that showed Williams with her eyes closed and leaning on her longtime confidant.
In tearful videos posted to her Instagram story earlier in the day before meeting up with Williams, Philipps expressed grief while driving in her car as the song “Time to Pretend” by MGMT played in the background.
“I was just driving and I was thinking about my friend Heath who died 10 years ago and this song came on, ‘Time to Pretend,’ ” she said in one of the videos. “It came out after he passed away and I remember when it came out, because [I thought] it made me think of him. I just thought he would have liked this song. And for some reason, every time I hear this song… it’s weird.”
Ledger and Williams dated after meeting on the set of their 2005 film Brokeback Mountain and welcomed daughter Matilda in October 2005. They separated in September 2007.