Michelle Williams is married. The Oscar-nominated actress revealed that she tied the knot with musician Phil Elverum in a recent Vanity Fair interview. “Obviously I’ve never once in my life talked about a relationship,” she said. “But Phil isn’t anyone else. And that’s worth something. Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole.”
Both Williams and Elverum have been in relationships that ended with the tragic death of their respective partners, and reportedly married in a small ceremony in the Adirondacks, where only a handful of friends were present.
Here’s what you need to know about Phil Elverum:
1. He Founded the Bands Mount Eerie & The Microphones
Elverum is best known for being the frontman of the rock group The Microphones. The group released their debut album Don’t Wake Me Up in 1999, and released several additional albums and compilations before splitting up in 2003. Elverum was the band’s principal songwriter and the producer. Looking back at the split, he told Discorder: “The Microphones was completed, or at least at a good stopping point. I did it because I [was] ready for new things. I am new.”
Elverum would go on to start the group Mount Eerie, named after the last studio album by The Microphones. Once again, he would serve as the chief songwriter and producer, but Mount Eerie allowed him to pursue more eclectic sounds like folk-rock, ambient, and electronic. The group has released nine studio albums to date, the most recently being 2018’s Now Only.
When asked about his creative process, Elverum told Death of an Absurdist that “I’m not sure what inspires [me]. I was just kind of freestyling and experimenting a lot and making myself as open as possible to ideas and giving myself a lot of time.”
“I’m not trying to do a little of everything, that’s not my goal,” he continued. “I know it’s happening, but I’m trying to make a cohesive body of work, like when I die I want to be able to look back and see a thread through all my work, and I can see that, I’m happy with what I’ve done. It’s not a goal of mine to ‘keep them guessing’, I’m not going to do a jazz album or a hip-hop album next, but at the same time I’m open to inspiration from whatever form it takes.”
2. His First Wife Geneviéve Castrée Died from Pancreatic Cancer In 2016
In 2003, Elverum married Canadian musician and artist Geneviéve Castrée. The couple dated briefly before tying the knot, and lived apart for a time before getting a place together in Washington. Castrée recorded music under the names Woelv and O Paon, and published her first graphic novel, Susceptible, in 2013. The couple gave birth to a daughter, who’s named Elverum asked be kept from the public.
Shortly after their daughter’s birth, however, Castrée was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Due to the high costs of her chemotherapy treatments, the usually reclusive Elverum started a GoFundMe page and wrote a letter to fans, asking them to donate.
“We are asking the world to please donate money to us,” he wrote. “Treatment is ongoing. Nobody in our household has been able to work for over a year… Life is 100% occupied by this humongous medical battle.” The page has since been deleted.
Despite fans’ donations, Castrée passed away on July 9, 2016. Elverum made the announcement on her GoFundMe page:
Geneviève died today at 1pm. She was truly driven to work and stay living right up to the last minute, insisting on getting up and going to work in her studio way beyond when many would have surrendered to rest. Last night and this morning she declined quickly and receded into her own eyes as her body vetoed her wishes, her lungs filling with fluid. She died at home with me and her parents holding her, hopefully having reached some last minute peace.
It’s all very sad and surreal. So much is left unfinished for her. She was a firehose of brilliant ideas that never turned off. We loved her and everything is weird now. Thank you for all the money, all the support and love.
3. He Dedicated the Album ‘A Crow Looked At Me’ to Castrée & His Daughter
In the aftermath of Castrée’s death, Elverum dedicated the albums A Crow Looked at Me and Now Only to her memory. Both received universal acclaim from critics, who commended Elverum’s honest lyrics and emotional themes. “It’s confusing to know how to be,” he told Bandcamp Daily. “I feel proud of it, but then I feel bad for feeling proud of it. It’s just complicated.”
“I’m a different person,” he continued. “Not only [because of] this death and grief and all that, but I’m a single parent, and so that changes people as well… There’s too much to do, too many tasks to do.” Elverum also said that Castrée’s death has inspired him to keep pushing himself artistically. “I feel like I discovered a new way of doing things for me, like a new way of writing, a new tone, a new way of producing.”
In an interview with Noisey, Elverum also spoke on the influence that his daughter plays in his art, and how his desire to be a good role model also factors keeps him going. “I recognize the cowardliness in the surrender, because, yeah, a**holes will take power and ruin the world quicker. But I have this two-year-old daughter, and I want her life to be as peaceful and healthy as possible.”
4. Busy Phillips Hinted at Elverum & Williams’ Marriage In March
While both Elverum and Williams were tight-lipped about their marriage, there was a hint that eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed. On March 24th, actress Busy Phillips, a Dawson’s Creek alum and longtime friend of Williams’, posted a photo of photo of her along with her husband Marc Silverstein, their two children, and curiously, Elverum.
Phillips and Elverum had no history of being friends, and now that Williams has divulged their relationship to the press, many have speculated that she was the one who snapped the photo. Williams told Vanity Fair she and Elverum met through a “mutual friend,” but this person’s name was never actually mentioned, making it possible that the “friend” is actually Phillips.
5. Williams Says Their Relationship Is ‘Very Sacred & Very Special’
In her Vanity Fair interview, Williams divulged the nature of her relationship with Elverum, calling it “very sacred and very special.” She added: “Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole. 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.”
Williams admitted that she was nervous to discuss her marriage publicly, but felt that it may help those who feel as though love has passed them by. “I don’t really want to talk about any of it,” she says. “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 adds: “Don’t settle. Don’t settle for something that feels like a prison, or is hard, or hurts you. If it doesn’t feel like love, it’s not love.”