A look back on Heath Ledger as a father


Sadly, Australian actor Heath Ledger, 28, passed away in NYC on Tuesday. Heath leaves behind Matilda Rose, 2, his daughter with former fiancee Michelle Williams. To commemorate Heath’s life and dedication to his daughter, we’ve put together memories and photos of his time with Matilda. While they spent only two years together, Matilda will surely be reminded of her father for years to come. An incredible talent and a loss not only for his family and Australians, but for fans world wide.

Heath and Michelle met on the set of Brokeback Mountain in 2004 and welcomed their daughter Matilda Rose Ledger, on October 28th, 2005. Since then the family has lived between their homes in NYC and LA, as well as visiting Heath’s family in Sydney and Perth, Australia. Unfortunately, the couple split last fall and since then Matilda has spent time with both her parents.

Like many men, Heath explained that while it was the most joyous occasion of his life, Matilda’s birth in 2005 was a tough experience. Heath said that he had "never felt so useless" while watching the birth,

Witnessing this innate, primal strength and determination that’s injected into women when they have to push out a baby is just the most spectacular thing … Boy, do I love them both –- and [Matilda’s] just a beautiful kid.

Photo by Ramey.

Heath also discussed his and Michelle’s baby name choice, saying,

It just seemed right … There’s something kind of ancient about the name. It’s got such a weight and beauty to it as well and, I don’t know, it just rolled off the tongue.

Heath added that the name plays homage to his heritage — many believe that the Australian national anthem should be "Waltzing Matilda," while Michelle added that it was also inspired by the Roald Dahl novel.

Roles also changed once the baby arrived with Heath being generally busy with house duties…but loving the experience.

My life right now is … I wouldn’t say reduced to food … but my duties in life are that I wake up, cook breakfast, clean the dishes, prepare lunch, clean those dishes, go to the market, get fresh produce, cook dinner, clean those dishes and then sleep if I can … I love it … I actually adore it.


He took a paternity leave after Matilda arrived as well.

I’m looking forward to being a dad and spending time with my child,which is why I’ll be taking time off…I’ve told my agent not to bothersending me any scripts or offers for a while. I was planning on acouple of years off, but I recently bought a house. So now I’llprobably have to work until the middle of next year to pay that off!

Calling Michelle ‘the perfect mom,’ he revealed,

I’m so proud. I just fall deeper and deeper in love with both my girls.

Ruminating on fatherhood, Heath shared,

Matilda is adorable, and beautifully observant and wise. Michelle and Ilove her so much. Becoming a father exceeds all my expectations. It’sthe most remarkable experience I’ve ever had — it’s marvelous.

While Matilda was born in NYC, Heath always wanted her to spend as much time in Australia as possible. The family had a home in Bronte and returned to the Australian shores in January 2006, and also for Christmas in 2006. He spent the 2007 holidays there as well. Heath said in 2006:

Next year my hope is to spend as much time in Australia as possible … I want to introduce Matilda to the ocean.

Matilda’s godfather is Heath’s close friend and Brokeback co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal. Her godmother is actress Busy Philipps, Michelle’s close friend and Dawson’s Creek co-star. Jake said,

Heath and I are best friends now, making the film was very intense for us. I’m actually godfather to Heath’s daughter Matilda which is an amazing honor.

This past fall, when asked how fatherhood had changed his life, Heath replied,

Oh, God — where do you start? I guess you’re kind of forced into respecting yourself more. You learn more about yourself through your child.

I think you also look at death differently — it’s like a catch-22. I feel good about dying now, because I’m alive through her, but at the same time you don’t want to die because you want to be around for the rest of her life.


Click below for more photos of Heath, Michelle and Matilda.

Photo by Ramey.
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