When Heath Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in 2008, he left behind partner Michelle Williams and their 2-year-old daughter, Matilda.
In a new cover story for Variety, Williams looks back on that painful time in her life and the support she received from actor Jeremy Strong, who went on to earn accolades for his portrayal of Kendall Roy in HBO’s “Succession”.
Strong, with whom she’d become friends when they performed in theatre together in the early 2000s, helped both her and Matilda cope with their grief during that painful period.
“Jeremy was serious enough to hold the weight of a child’s broken heart and sensitive enough to understand how to approach her through play and games and silliness,” Williams said, adding that “[Matilda] didn’t grow up with her father, but she grew up with her Jeremy and we were changed by his ability to play as though his life depended upon it, because hers did.”
Having known Strong for as long and as deeply as she has, Williams told Variety she was shocked by the backlash he received in last year’s notorious New Yorker profile, which characterized Strong as a self-indulgent “method” actor going to extreme lengths to achieve his performances.
“I think that unfortunately the word ‘method’ has become a buzzy one because of what happened to Jeremy Strong when he tried to describe his process,” Williams said. “He takes his work as seriously as he takes his play.”
She added, “We’ve all been in awe of his talent. We’ve watched him work harder than anyone and wait a long time for other people to recognize it. So when he became so celebrated, we all celebrated.”
Michelle Williams’ entire interview can be read in the latest issue of Variety.