For an actress with such a superb and varied filmography, we seem to know Michelle Williams best from her relationship with the late Oscar-winning performer Heath Ledger. Perhaps this is because the pair shared a daughter together, or just because we loved Ledger in all of his movies like Brokeback Mountain and, of course, The Dark Knight. But we really should be paying more attention to the wonderful Williams for all of her own accomplishments, like roles in films like Blue Valentine, All The Money In The World, Manchester By The Sea, My Week With Marilyn, The Greatest Showman, Shutter Island, and her time on Dawn's Creek, the show that first really made her famous.
But we should also give Williams our attention for her family life, mainly how she's raising her only daughter, whom she had with the late, great Ledger, Matilda. This list will delve into some of the fascinating and little-known details of Williams' life with her daughter. It will shed some light on her parenting style, her struggles, her past, and the joys that she and her daughter experience on the daily. Without further ado, here are 20 things most people don't know about Michelle Williams and her daughter.
20 Knowing Parenting Will Never Be The Same Again
The first thing we should really know about Michelle Williams and her daughter Matilda is that Michelle knows that parenting will never be the same now that Matilda's father is gone. In an interview, Michelle Williams made a very poignant comment about raising Matilda on her own. She came right out and said that it will never be the same. Matilda will always have a part of her that's missing and that's very unfortunate. But that doesn't mean that she can't give Matilda everything she has in hopes that she will have as great of a childhood as possible. This is the sad, but truthful reality of this mother.
19 Parenting With Another Solo Parent For A Time
Michelle Williams has been tied to a couple of men since the passing of Matilda's father, Heath Ledger. But for the most part, she has done her duties as both Matilda's mother and father on her own; an admirable attribute. However, eventually, she met another solo parent, Phil Elverum. The pair became quite close and even got married in 2018. During this time, the pair of them raised their respective kids on their own but alongside one another. Unfortunately, the partnership between Michelle and her new beau didn't last long and the went their separate ways. Now Michelle has returned to a life of true solo parenting.
18 Michelle Separated Herself From Her Parents... But For A Unique Reason
Michelle William's earliest years were spent in Kalispell, Montana with her father, who was a stock trader and author, and her stay-at-home mom. However, when she was nine, her and her family moved to California. This was well into the years where Michelle was wanting to work in the film industry. However, to successfully work in the film industry at such an age, she needed to legally emancipate herself from her parents. This was done to get around the child labor laws and had nothing to do with issues at home. Although she was able to work, she felt exceptionally lonely, especially while doing her high school diploma via a correspondence course. This was a particularly different childhood than the one she's given her own daughter.
17 The Life Of The Home-Schooled
It makes complete sense that Michelle Williams was homeschooled as a child. After all, she started working in film and television far before she became famous for Dawson's Creek. But it actually wasn't the schedule that made her opt out of the 8 to 3 school life. In fact, it was her classmates that made her want to be taught at him. In an interview with GQ, Michelle said, "There's plenty of opportunities to tease someone who's been in a Lassie movie." Beyond her classmates, Michelle didn't fall in line with her school's religious stance. Her old principal even decried Michelle's involvement in Brokeback Mountain, years and years after knowing her, due to the movie's themes. But Michelle's bad experiences at school didn't stop her from enrolling her daughter in a private school. Clearly, Matilda has a much easier time.
16 Matilda's Allowed To Talk To Strangers
We learned a lot about Michelle Williams and her daughter thanks to a fascinating article written in The New York Times. The writer, Albert Stern, described how he ran into Michelle Williams and her daughter at a cafe in the heart of Manhattan. Matilda was apparently very keen to play with Stern's two-year-old son, even though he was a complete and utter stranger. And though Williams could have been tentative about this, she was more than happy to sit with a stranger in order for her daughter to make new friends, if only for a few minutes. This tells us that Michelle doesn't let her celebrity get in the way of her daughter's growth.
15 Keeping Her Daughter Far Away From Hollywood
There's a certain energy that celebrities who live in New York have that the ones who live in Los Angeles just don't. Mainly, it's the fact that they don't enjoy living in the spotlight. Although the paparazzi are in New York, the culture is in no way like what it is in LA. After Ledger passed, the press swarmed Michelle and her daughter. This is caused her to move her daughter outside of Brooklyn for a long time. They lived in a rural farming community which allowed her daughter to run around and play without having to worry. Eventually, their location was disclosed and they moved back to New York where Matilda is made to have as "normal" of a life that doesn't involve anything to do with Hollywood.
14 Matilda Has A Happy Memory Of Her Dad, Thanks To Her Mom
If you've read many of Michelle William's interviews or watched them, you'd see a similar line being used over and over again. This comment has to do with the memory that Michelle Williams wants her daughter to have of her late father. Michelle constantly mentions that she tells Matilda, "Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes." This is because she wants Matilda to have the most positive memory of her father as possible and not just be marred by the unfortunate and complicated circumstances of his passing. This is an incredibly important thing for a parent to consider and we're glad to see that Matilda remembers her fatherly fondly.
13 Michelle Is Matilda's Sworn Confidant
Apparently, Michelle is a fan of Gilmore Girls since she and her daughter are trying to emulate the relationship between Lorelai and Rory. In an interview, Michelle described that she is her daughter's sworn confidant and that she tries to create an atmosphere where her daughter can always feel comfortable to share with her. She explained by saying, “Personally and professionally, the great [trick to] working with children and knowing children is listening to children, and responding to who they are. Not your idea of a perfect child, not who you want them to be, but who they really are." This is not only a beautiful sentiment but also a strong parenting tactic that will allow Michelle to keep on top of her daughter's journey.
12 Leading By Example: More To Women Than Having Children
Michelle Williams isn't just a mother. She's not to be defined by one choice she's made in her life, and just because she's biologically capable of having more kids, doesn't mean that's the only contribution she wants to make to society. She is also a scholar and an incredibly successful, talented, and inspirational performer. This is a trait that she tries to inspire in her daughter. Although Matilda may want kids of her own one day, Michelle wants her to find something else that helps to define who she is and what she gives to the world. Obviously, Matilda has a good role model as Michelle is the type of performer who just gives all that she can and expects nothing in return. All that she receives is the added bonus.
11 The Brilliant Mind Of Michelle Williams
We just mentioned that Michelle Williams is a scholar. This may have some readers a tad confused since she's better known as an actress as well as the mom of Heath Ledger's only child. But Michelle is actually incredibly well educated and utterly cultured. She is the type of individual who can quote Jim Harrison's poetry off-by-heart, as well as knows the detailed work of Annie Dillard, Colson Whitehead, Elena Ferrante, Rebecca Solnit, Andrew Solomon, and Henry David Thoreau. Many have described Michelle as someone who treats everything she comes into contact with as if she were studying for a Ph.D. in that topic. She is an incredibly bright, interested, and engaged individual who probably hopes to inspire her daughter to be the same.
10 Wanting Her Daughter To Face All The Challenges
There are some celebrity parents who literally want to hand everything to their children. As well as some famous folk, as we've recently seen in the news, who want to manipulate systems in order to benefit their kids. Michelle Williams is NOT one of these types. In fact, she has said in multiple interviews that she actually wants her daughter to struggle for what she wants as true success comes from the physical and emotional attempt to get there. It's in this pursuit that courage is built as well as an understanding of where our actual priorities lie. This is what she wants for Matilda. And, of course, Matilda has already faced some obvious challenges. But Michelle knows that it's really just the beginning.
9 The Mysterious Godparents Of Matilda Ledger
Okay, so we know Michelle Williams isn't a typical celebrity who only lives a glamour lifestyle, but we have to include some aspect of it on this list. But it has nothing to do with extravagant parties, A-List romantic pairings, or red carpet exclusives, it actually has to do with the identities of Matilda LEdger's godparents. Well, unsurprisingly, Matilda's godmother is Michelle's best friend, Busy Phillips. Fans of Dawson's Creek know her well, after all, this was the show that the two met on. But the identity of Matilda's godfather (cue Al Martino's iconic theme) is... Jake Gyllenhaal. Yep, it's Heath Ledger's romantic interest from Brokeback Mountain, the film that also starred Michelle Williams. Clearly, true relationships were formed on this set that continued even after Ledger left us.
8 Being A "Little New Yorker"
Although Michelle wanted to raise Matilda away from the big city in her earliest years, eventually they moved back to New York fulltime. This was a better alternative than moving to Hollywood where Matilda could have become the next Olivia Jade of the world or simply been under the microscopic lenses of the eager paparazzi. Although there are paparazzi in The Big Apple, the lifestyle pales in comparison to LA. Michelle also wanted to have her daughter in New York because she wanted some semblance of stability, especially when it came to her daughter's schooling. This could only be achieved by being in a place where Michelle could also work. Since moving to New York, Matilda has apparently become a "little New Yorker" who fits right in with their specific lifestyle.
7 Picture-Ban Protection
The only way that mega-celebrities like Michelle Williams can raise their kids away from the public eye is to put certain measures in place to protect them. Kristen Bell, the star of Frozen, Veronica Mars, House of Lies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall is credited as being the celebrity mom who made the paparazzi see their human sides. Kristen was able to do this by making sure that the celebrities who wanted a ban on their children being photographed received precisely that. This is how Michelle was able to have her daughter thrive in New York. Although the press still gets away with a shot here and there, the vast majority have respected these wishes and stopped taking unsolicited photos of Matilda.
6 A Teenager Isn't Enough To Take Michelle Down
Can you believe it? Matilda is actually a teenager now... but only just. When appearing on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Michelle told Kelly Ripa and her guest co-host and real-life husband, Riverdale's Mark Conseuelos, that she is fairly okay with the teenage lifestyle so far. This caught Kelly Ripa off-guard who knows what it's like to raise teenagers. Michelle went on by saying that she is expecting the day when the typical teenage transformation (say that five times fast) occurs but, so far, it hasn't happened. The three of them claimed that they believe that the transformation may have occurred by now, therefore Michelle may be in the clear from the angsty teenage-phase. But, hey, they never truly know.
5 Their Household Is Just FULL Of Animals
Michelle is the type of mother who sees the benefits of having animals around her child. She sees how Matilda interacts with these creatures and forms a true bond with them. She learns the responsibility of caring for these animals as well as gains an appreciation for the complexity and hierarchy of nature. While Michelle raised Matilda on the far outside of the city, the family had tons of animals. This continued when they moved back to New York City. They have had a couple of dogs, cats, and multiple fish. The pair of women tend to call their home "a zoo" since it's usually full of multiple purrs and barks.
4 Waiting For Prince Charming Isn't An Option
Matilda inadvertently brought up an interesting topic when her mother took her to Disneyland as a child. After visiting with the princesses, Matilda asked her mom if they could go see the princes. Michelle explained that there weren't any princes in Disneyland and probably not any elsewhere. Michelle was asked about this in an interview and she explained that she doesn't want her daughter waiting around for a prince to come and save her. This is also a lesson that she teaches herself. Michelle is more than content with leaving this life the same way that she came into it, alone. Although meeting somebody would be nice, she can fulfill her own needs and emotionally elevate without a man.
3 Matilda Has A Choice Of Many Roads
Actors with children almost always are asked if they would be okay with their kid going into their industry. Some celebrities have pretty firm opinions on this. The vast majority don't want their kids any part of the entertainment industry given how challenging it can be. However, when Michelle Williams was asked this, she said, "What I want more than anything for my daughter is to be herself. And if she’s interested in acting, then, I’ll do everything that I can to support her, but I would hope that she waits until she’s an adult to make that decision." This is a very evolved way of looking at it. Clearly, Michelle wants her daughter to know that she has many potential roads to follow. And if she is dedicated to one of those roads, she will have her mother's support.
2 Michelle Considers Herself The Same Person
Many celebrities go through drastic changes after entering the spotlight, but Michelle Williams claims that she hasn't changed all that much. She said that she found a picture of herself when she was 15 or 14 at a school dance. She looked at herself and saw that she was clearly awkward and uncomfortable. Although she says that she has come into her own and has grown a lot, she ultimately holds precisely the same morals and values as she did all those years ago. She then said, "I wish that I could travel back in time and say to that girl, “It’s going to be OK. One day, you’re going to do work that you’ll be proud of, and you’ll work with people you admire.”
1 These Women Accept Their Circumstances
A parent could easily create a sense of fantasy for their child after they lost someone close to them. But Michelle isn't that type of mother or individual. She has never let her daughter believe that everything is better than it seems. They have been dealt a very specific hand of cards and they live with them. They appreciate what they have by accepting precisely the situation they're in and not pretending that it's something else. Michelle is a firm believer in not fighting circumstances and wants her daughter to have this same value. And, by all accounts, Matilda seems to be on the same page. This means that these two women have fought to overcome their own adversity and grown stronger because of it.
Sources: New Zealand Herald, Huffington Post, The List, Social Moms, People, NY Times, Vanity Fair, Fascinate, Time, Today, Star2, Elite Daily, She Knows, E! Online, Vulture, Nicki Swift, ET Online, Hello Magazine.