Michelle Williams is upset at Nightline for sensationalizing her quotes on Heath’s death

Last week, Nightline aired an interview with Michelle Williams in which she shared the very personal information about how she coped when her daughter’s father, Heath Ledger, passed away from a drug interaction in early 2008. She explained that she kept thinking she’d see him again, and that she was sad once reality set in and she realized the finality of his death.

“In a strange way, I miss that year, because all those possibilities that existed then are gone. It didn’t seem unlikely to me that he could walk through a door or could appear behind a bush. It was a year of very magical thinking, and in some ways I’m sad to be moving further and further away from it.”

Only Williams isn’t happy with Nightline for excerpting those comments and using them to promote her interview. In an interview with The Daily Beast she explained that her comments were taken out of context:

Just recently I felt as if I did cross a line about all this. Yet if I’m going to do interviews and be in this world, I don’t want to seem as if I’m just taking a party line. I want to say something that is representative of who I am and what I’m thinking about and what matters to me in the same ways that I want to do that in my work because my work and my life do feed off each other. The two do go together. But when it comes to interviews, it all becomes rather tricky because I don’t want to say something without resonance but then I don’t want to go too far. I just had an experience with Nightline that got edited in such a way that seemed as if I did go too far. It was a three-hour interview that was edited in such a way that was devastating to me. I mean, I am still such the-good-girl. I want everybody to like me. I want everybody to be happy. I want to please people. So that desire in the moment overrode that “me” that is on top of myself, that “me” that is on top of a situation. Then they used those few quotes and the way they edited the piece to sell the interview, and it appeared as if I were breaking some kind of silence and sitting down with the express purpose to discuss something that is very private to me. So then I withdraw and I say, “OK, this subject is off limits if it is going to be convoluted and re-contextualized. I will close myself off as a torn paper might seal up its side or a streak of water stitch itself to silk.*” But then I sit down with you and feel compelled to talk about it. So it is a struggle.

[From The Daily Beast via Huffington Post]

There’s a very predictable formula to reporting celebrity interviews, and it involves taking the most sensational or revealing quotes and making them the center of the story. I’m not saying it’s fair at all, just that I’ve seen and done it for years and it seems like common knowledge to me. People don’t want to read or watch long interviews, they want to get the bullet points and move on.

When Yahoo’s OMG reported this story, they suggested that anyone would go “with the most compelling stuff first,” but their commenters took offense at that. I don’t know how Nightline promoted this interview, like whether they made it seem so sad or ominous, but the fact is that she did say those things. Michelle is a gentle, sensitive soul and she reveals in that Daily Beast interview that she loves to read and has found solace in poetry. If there are parts of her life or her grief that she doesn’t want to be sensationalized, she should try to keep them to herself in interviews. Agree or disagree, this is way the media works and an actress can learn to censor herself, even when she’s talking to someone for a few hours.

*The references Michelle makes to torn paper and streaks of water are from a poem about grief that she read at the beginning of the interview. It was from a book of poems that the journalist gave her called “The Pruned Tree” by Robert Moss.

Photos are from 12/13 and 12/7/10, credit: WENN.com and Fame Pictures




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33 Responses to “Michelle Williams is upset at Nightline for sensationalizing her quotes on Heath’s death”

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  1. Marjalane says:

    I like Michelle Williams. If I have to see anyone with my beloved Gosdong- I’d like it to be her.

  2. normades says:

    Love her

  3. mln76 says:

    She is just a really sensitive soul. Can’t blame her at all for being so naive. Sadly this probably means she’ll do less tv interviews.

  4. Roma says:

    @Marjalane: I totally agree with you. I would accept her being with Gosling.

    I actually loved her on Dawson’s Creek and felt like her acting talent blew Katie’s out of the water way back when.

  5. brin says:

    Well it just makes her even more endearing, imo. This is what tv interviews do, and I feel sad that she probably will be guarded in her interviews now.

  6. Isabel says:

    Oh geez, that’s all very sad. Poor thing. I can’t be catty about this.

  7. MW Fan says:

    I think that Michelle is one of those people that wants to beleive that everyone is as decent and respectful as she is. Unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Especially in the media/Hollywood world. But I do agree that she she shold know how it works by now. Still kind of makes me mad that they took advantage of her being nice enough to talk about it. She could have told them that the subject of Heath was off limits. Just cut the wounds a little deeper NIghtline. Way to go. Journalism at it’s best.

  8. N says:

    It’s not like they took a couple of her phrases and repeated them indefinitely. She went on and on and on about her feelings on her ex’s death. At times it seemed it was scripted. That book she was reading, the “magical thinking” thing, the unstopable chat about her daughter….I really don’t think she was caught off guard. Now she may starting to feel that some people could think she is doing it for Oscar campaign reasons and she is doing some damage control.It’s all about taking care of her spotless image

  9. Brittney says:

    I feel for her and Matilda so much, and I doubt the way they promoted or edited that interview will change anyone’s opinions of her. She’s a fantastic actress who faced something absolutely horrible with strength, grace and dignity.

  10. constance says:

    @ Celebitchy the poem is “The Pruned Tree” by Howard Moss, not Robert. 🙂

    I don’t think the interview came off badly. The media reports celebrity as they always have…

  11. Lucy says:

    She’s so sweet and ladylike. Can’t help loving her. Hope she wins the Oscar. She totally deserves it not like Natalie “Oh I get pregnant!” Portman.

  12. normades says:

    @lucy: yup, no bitchface there. I must add that I love those purple shoes with that white dress.

  13. sasa says:

    I agree that the interview didn’t come off badly at all. It was just that someone (mean spirited) took the opportunity in her first Heath post-death public outing to make it sound bad, when in fact it wasn’t.

  14. Ruby Red Lips2 says:

    What did she expect? She is a celeb and anything they say will get twisted to suit the publication’s need for sensation. I don’t believe she was naivie to this possiblity for a second, has she been living in a cave?

    Next time Michelle just don’t talk about anything that you don’t want to be manipulated

  15. Roxanne75 says:

    She doesn’t seem like the actor type…she’s good in movies but outside of that she just doesn’t seem to/or want to fit in. She’s sweet.

  16. The.princess.leia says:

    Am I the only one that think she’s looking like a younger version of Geena Davis?

  17. Heather says:

    I like her. Never is annoying, but she’s been in the business long enough to know how it is. =/

  18. Anna says:

    FU Nightline. Not cool.

  19. lucy2 says:

    I like her too, she’s talented and seems very nice and sweet. I feel so badly for her and her daughter, such a tragic loss.

    But I have to agree that she should know what to expect. Of course they’re going to promote it with that stuff.

  20. Rosanna says:

    yawn, Michelle, YAWN… about everything you say is SO boring it isn’t worth reading.

  21. Mel says:

    She’s very sweet inside and out. I hope she forever holds on to that and doesn’t let the media soil it. It’s what makes her such a fine actress, she’s layered and has much going on when she’s on screen…not boring at all.

  22. Sara says:

    The thing she said about losing everything and how felt things were just slipping out of hands, poor girl. I feel so sad for her daughter, such an innocent being in all of this.
    Addiction to prescription drugs is heavy and affects so many people and is growing leaps and bounds.

  23. Johnny Depp's Girl says:

    Bless her. I love her and could tell a long time ago she was a sensitive girl. Heath fell in love with her on the set of Brokeback mountain. She broke her foot on the set and he felt overly protective of her from that point on.

    She would look good with the Gosdong. I have always thought so..

  24. michkabibbles says:

    i admit i haven’t seen the interview, but i think the quote is lovely. i don’t see the problem if they promoted the interview with that quote. it’s kind of a very sensitive way to describe intense grief.

  25. Anti-icon says:

    She’s very gracious and has become even more so….she has shown much maturity in these years….and in her communication about the death….she has nothing to regret…or to fret about. I really like her and think she is immensely talented.

  26. Jeri says:

    I understand her feelings, the 1st year after my finacee died it was surreal and it did not seem real, he was 33 and I was 35 and no one close to me had died prior to that. To live with it on a day to day basis before he died and having to pretend he would get better was very hard (he was optimistic and I no way would break that bubble), I had a mini nervous breakdown (maybe not so mini) and I think the 1st year after his death was so weird. My life as I knew it died with him and my destiny was forever changed.

    Anyway – it’s hard to describe rationally and put it in a way people will understand because you can’t understand unless you’ve been there. We were together 10 years and had a future all planned out. That of course all ended too.

    I think Michelle thought they were on a break while he cleaned up his act and expected them to all be together again.

  27. Really? says:

    I like what she said in the interview..I understand and relate to how she felt sad to move on and accept the finality of the death of someone she loved. I liked her before but the more of her I see the more I like her as an actress and a person. I lost my sister in 2008 and the world has never looked or felt the same to me since..but it is not so devastatingly painful or raw as it was that first year. As time goes on you accept but there is a time when it all seems so surreal.

  28. Leona says:

    Not the popular opinion, but I don’t buy her ‘people pleaser’ copout. she’s no megan attention whore fox, but even low key celebrities like her tend to have overblown egos which is why they treat interviews as a platform to lecture the world about their musings and feelings instead of taking a press tour for what it is – a business transaction. they have a movie to plug and the interviewer has a magazine or show to promote. that’s all there is to it. most people don’t really care what actors think, they just want a dose of entertaining escapism before moving on with their day. if a celebrity has their head on straight and not up their own ass, they understand this, and keep their personal issues private.

    Edit: just to clarify, I understand why she wasn’t pleased with how nightline used her interview and regrets saying anything at all, and I sympathize with her loss. I’m just saying I don’t believe her reasons for speaking about it in the first place. I doubt she would talk about such a sensitive, private issue just to please someone else. she was basking in attention she was getting from a stranger hanging on her every world. her ego got the better of her, not naivete.

  29. Liana says:

    She’s so sweet. She used to live around the block from us in Boerum Hill and was always just really sweet and friendly and part of the neighborhood.

  30. Michelle wants her way says:

    Don’t you realize she did that interview to get her
    way. She always gets her way and that is why she complained about the editing because she didn’t
    receive the response she wanted from the public.
    She has milked her story of woe to hide what she really did. She emotionally tormented Heath Ledger in the months before he passed away through her lawyers. Terry Gilliam came forward to expose her lies and then all of you here fall for this innocent act of hers. The nerve of her to behave this way and how dare all of you to not listen to Terry who was like a father to Heath Ledger.

  31. Liana says:

    Yes, how dare we not listen to Terry Gilliam for his unprofessional verbal diarrhea and ridiculous tirade against Michelle Williams. One film does not a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp relationship make. Whenever I saw Heath and Michelle, they always looked happy and quite comfortable with each other.

  32. MImi says:

    @Michelle Wants Her Way: So I guess all of us are wrong and you are right? Not likely sweetie. Where is your sense of compassion. Even if Heath and Michelle weren’t getting along that doesn’t mean she isn’t sad that he is gone. He is the father of her daughter and I’am sure she misses him every day.

  33. Tara says:

    Heath fell inlove with Gemma Ward before he died, so Michelle should stop speaking about him. Full stop. She uses him for publicity.