Michelle Williams, acclaimed film, television and theater actress who rose to fame on the TV show Dawson’s Creek, is nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award for “Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie.” The nomination honors her work portraying Gwen Verdon in the FX limited series Fosse/Verdon.
In addition to being an award-winning actress and activist for #MeToo and Time’s Up, Williams is also the mother of 13-year-old Matilda Ledger. Williams keeps her personal life and family out of the public eye as much as possible, but that hasn’t stopped fans from searching for information and updates about Matilda and her famous mom.
Here’s what you need to know about Michelle Williams’s daughter Matilda:
1. Matilda’s Father Is the Late Actor Heath Ledger
Michelle Williams had Matilda on October 28, 2005. Matilda’s father was Heath Ledger, whom Williams was in a relationship with from 2005 until 2007. Ledger died on January 22, 2008 after an accidental drug overdose, when Matilda was only 2 years old.
In 2009, after Ledger had passed, Williams opened up about their relationship and her life raising their daughter in an interview with Vogue. She said “Every time I really miss him and wonder where he’s gone, I just look at her.” I can talk about grief, because that’s mine, about single parenting, about trying to balance work and kids. But what I don’t have to talk about is what happened between Heath and me in our relationship. Brokeback Mountain was an unrepeatable moment in time, a very charmed time in my life. I was in love. I was in a movie I was proud to be a part of and with a beautiful, brand new baby. Everything was good in that moment.”
2. Her Godparents Are Jake Gyllenhaal & Busy Philipps
In addition to having famous parents, Matilda’s godparents are also well-known in Hollywood: according to Pop Sugar, her godfather is Jake Gyllenhaal and her godmother is Busy Philippe.
Gyllenhaal starred in Brokeback Mountain alongside Ledger and Williams. Busy and Michelle have been best friends ever since starring in Dawson’s Creek together. Philipps will even be Williams’s date to the 2019 Emmy Awards.
3. She Was Raised in Rural Upstate New York
Williams told Vanity Fair that after Heath Ledger’s death, she and Matilda were harassed by people who wanted to document what they were doing and how they were coping. She said: “It was unmanageable to be stalked like that, every moment of the day. So I left, in a desire to create a sane home environment.” She and Matilda moved out of New York City and into upstate New York, and Matilda travels with her mom for work, as necessary.
The move was not only to maintain a level of privacy for Matilda as she grew up. It was also so she could have a nature-filled childhood like Williams had. She said that, for her daughter, she wanted “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.”
It appears that Michelle and Matilda have since moved back to New York City; in an interview with NZ Herald, she said that she was “10 minutes from home” when filming The Greatest Showman in Brooklyn, New York.
4. Michelle Williams Split From Matilda’s Step-Father, Phil Elverum, Earlier This Year
Less than one year after Williams’s marriage to singer Phil Elverum, a source told People in a statement that “Michelle and Phil separated at the beginning of the year. It was an amicable spilt and they remain friends.” The two were married in a private ceremony, and Matilda and Elverum’s young daughter were in attendance.
In 2018, when Williams’ revealed to Vanity Fair that she and Phil Elverum were secretly married, she reflected on how she talks about Ledger to Matilda and how her relationship with Elverum matches how she parents Matilda to be: “I always say to Matilda, ‘Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.’ Obviously I’ve never once in my life talked about a relationship, 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. 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.”
5. She’s a Huge Fan of Her Mom’s Movie ‘The Greatest Showman’
Williams revealed to NZ Herald that, when filming The Greatest Showman, she felt that “It was so great to be making a film that I will be able to take my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to see!”
She later said that Matilda, although Fosse/Verdon was not a show that Matilda and her friends watched or knew much about, Matilda was a huge fan of family-friendly The Greatest Shwoman when it came out.
During an interview with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, she offered some insight into what Matilda is like as a teenager. She said that having a teenage girl in the house was “so far, so good,” adding “Every morning we wake up and I wait to see if the transformation has happened and if it’s turned into the next level I keep hearing about. But we’re not there yet.”