Michelle Ingrid Williams (born September 9, 1980) is an American actress. She began her career with television guest appearances, and made her feature film debut in Lassie (1994), which earned her a Youth in Film nomination. She gained wider recognition for her role as Jen Lindley on the The WB series Dawson’s Creek from 1998 to 2003.
Williams received critical acclaim for the role of Alma, wife of Ennis Del Mar, in Brokeback Mountain (2005), for which she won a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and was nominated for the SAG Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe, and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She followed this with films such as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010). Her work in Blue Valentine (2010) garnered her nominations for the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Actress. She won a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011), which also garnered her BAFTA, SAG, and Academy Award nominations. In 2016, she received wide acclaim for her performance in the drama Manchester by the Sea, earning her nominations from the BAFTA, SAG, and Academy Award ceremonies.
On Broadway, Williams appeared in a revival of the musical Cabaret in 2014 and a revival of the play Blackbird in 2016. She received a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play nomination for the latter.
Williams began dating Australian actor Heath Ledger, her Brokeback Mountain co-star, in 2004 after meeting on the set of the film. In late April 2005 People reported that Williams and Ledger were expecting a child together. On October 28, 2005, Williams gave birth to their daughter Matilda Rose Ledger.
During Williams and Ledger’s time together, they lived in Brooklyn, New York. By September 2007, the couple amicably ended their three-year relationship. Of the break-up, People quoted her telling Elle magazine, “I didn’t know where to go. I couldn’t imagine any place in the world that was gonna feel good to me.” After Ledger’s death from a combined drug intoxication (CDI) in January 2008, the usually under-the-radar actress and her daughter became an interest of the media and were often followed by paparazzi. As a result, Williams rarely gave interviews until the end of 2009.
On February 1, 2008, in her first public statement after Ledger’s death, Williams expressed her heartbreak and described Ledger’s spirit as surviving in their daughter, who resembles him. Later that month she attended his memorial and funeral services.
In July 2008, Williams began dating director Spike Jonze. They met on the set of Synecdoche, New York, which Williams starred in and Jonze produced. Williams called the timing of their relationship “impossible”, and ended it in September 2009.