Michelle Williams Says She Left N.Y.C. to Escape 'Scary' Times After Heath Ledger's Death

Michelle Williams drastically changed her life after she was hounded by paparazzi following Heath Ledger's death

Michelle Williams drastically changed her life after she was hounded by paparazzi following Heath Ledger’s death.

The 37-year-old actress opens up about why she needed to move to upstate New York in a new interview for Vanity Fair — where she also reveals she recently secretly married musician Phil Elverum.

Williams was living in Brooklyn when Ledger was found dead in 2008 of a drug overdose in New York City and she quickly became the center of the tragedy — along with their then-two-year-old daughter Matilda.

“It was unmanageable to be stalked like that, every moment of the day,” she told Vanity Fair. “So I left, in a desire to create a sane home environment.”

She added, “When you’re a single parent, and that element of provider and protection is missing, it’s scary.”

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Williams and Ledger met on the set of 2005’s Brokeback Mountain and later welcomed Matilda, now 12, in October of that year. The two dated for three years before breaking up in late 2007 — just five months before Ledger was found dead in January 2008.

After his death, Williams bought a house upstate where she raised Matilda. She said the move reminded her of her own upbringing, and she hoped to inspire a connection with nature in her daughter.

Michelle Williams Vanity FairCredit: Collier Schorr
Collier Schorr

“You know, getting on a bicycle and being out and coming back for meals, and exploring snakeskins and arrowheads and cliffs and plants and abandoned houses, and having that sense of freedom and safety in the world,” she explained.

Still, the attention followed them, and Williams recalled one time she had a first-hand experience with an invasion of her privacy.

“I’ll never forget going to the post office and seeing a sign hung on the wall for anyone with information about myself and my daughter, to please call this number,” she said. “Um, so I took that down.”

Celebrities Visit Broadway - September 27, 2015
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Now married to Elverum, Williams explained that she spent the 10 years since Ledger’s death wanting the “radical acceptance” he offered her — and made the point to not settle.

“I never gave up on love,” Williams said. “I always say to Matilda, ‘Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.’ ”

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