Michelle Williams: ‘It’s hard to romanticize romance when you’re 36′


If Michelle Williams is talking about Heath Ledger, you know she’s campaigning for an Oscar. I’m sorry, but it’s so true. Part of me is sympathetic – she gets the questions and she answers them honestly. The other part of me thinks it’s a little bit gross that she’s constantly bringing out Heath’s ghost to campaign for an Oscar though. Michelle covers the latest issue of the WSJ. Magazine to promote her smallish role in Manchester by the Sea. I believe that Viola Davis has a lock on the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but Michelle is the one who could be Viola’s biggest challenger (neither woman has won before, and some people might think Michelle is “due” just like Viola). I find that I don’t hate the fact that Michelle is out there hustling and campaigning – I think, “good for her, be ambitious, play the game.” I think that until she starts talking about Heath. Some highlights from WSJ.

Moving out of the Brooklyn home she shared with Heath: “At that time, I was inconsolable because I felt, ‘How will he be able to find us?’ This is where we lived, and he won’t know where we are. And now I can’t believe I thought that. Maybe that’s what’s making me cry is I feel sad for the person who thought he won’t be able to locate [us].”

Romance at 36: “It’s hard to romanticize romance when you’re 36. When you’ve been a parent for 11 years and you’ve done it alone, you don’t have romantic ideals, because you have a practical understanding that you can do it by yourself. The romantic idea of meeting your person and having a storybook family life that looks like the model you grew up with – that doesn’t really exist for me.”

Why she’s never gotten married: “I’ve not gotten married because I have not had a person to whom I would — so I have not let my sense of conformity or duty override my instincts.”

Her Manchester character’s bravery: “If it happened to me, I wouldn’t be so brave. Sometimes your mind drifts there, to the worst thing you can possibly imagine, and you say, ‘How would I cope with the unimaginable?’ I can’t imagine going on.”

Life as a single parent: “Sometimes it can feel alienating; at school functions, there’s only two of us single mothers. Everyone else has a partner, so we buddy up.”

Her career priorities: “I worry about the next job and when it’s coming and will I be able to get it, but when you’re looking at something, there’s also the criteria of timing, the school calendar, the location, the duration, and just where we’re at as a family.” Williams says she sometimes finds projects that “balance up perfectly” – like starring in Cabaret close to home on Broadway – but that it’s not the norm. “We haven’t been on location in five years; I haven’t taken jobs that put us on the road. Everyone told me to travel while [Matilda’s] young, but they hit a certain age, and they want a life. So we’re stuck – in a good place. There’s a lot of constancy. She’s in such a good place that I don’t worry about the stability of our unit when I have to go back to work.”

[From People]

I kind of wonder if she wouldn’t be able to find more consistent work in one place if she moved to LA? She’s been in New York this whole time and while New York offers consistent work for some people – stage actors and certain New York-set TV shows – it feels like she would have a much better shot at consistent work AND stability in LA. Also… she would have shot on location for Manchester by the Sea, right? Does she not count that? Did she film it during one of Matilda’s school breaks?

PS… is anyone else still mad about Michelle’s Civil War Ghost cosplay at the Golden Globes?? I’m also still really mad about her white hair.


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet, cover courtesy of WSJ. Magazine.

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50 Responses to “Michelle Williams: ‘It’s hard to romanticize romance when you’re 36′”

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  1. Dana says:

    Is it so sad to be in your thirties and a romantic?

    • Embee says:

      Absolutely not! I’m a 38 year old romantic and my boyfriend is too. Would be sad without our romance

    • Elle R. says:

      I find it sad to be in your 30s and not be a romantic. Some of the most interesting people I’ve met were romantics in their 80s – because being a romantic means still being open to the wonder and magic of the world and the human experience.

      As someone in my 30s, I find this sort of “oh, I’m too mature to be a romantic” obnoxious. I’ve dealt with my share of heartbreak, but I find the heartbreak makes me appreciate those moments of romance all the more.

      • Andrea says:

        I’ve recently become a romantic in my mid-30′s. I have been a serial heartbreaker since I started dated and now petrified the next one will break my heart. EEk.

    • India Andrews says:

      If you’re in your thirties and still a romantic about romance you have lived a charmed life.

      • Shirleygail says:

        @India Andrews, I do so agree with you. I was left to raise a son alone in my 30′s. Whilst my boy was small, romance was the last thing on my mind. When he was 12 I briefly fell for a shyster. Once he was discovered for what he was, and gone, I decided to finish raising my son, then maybe open up again to love and romance. Sadly, by the time he was an adult and on his own, my fat genes had overruled all other genes. And that seems to be that. Romantic love is tretcherous, the love between a mother and child, two friends, two sisters, now that’s a love you can count on.

  2. perplexed says:

    “At that time, I was inconsolable because I felt, ‘How will he be able to find us?’ This is where we lived, and he won’t know where we are. And now I can’t believe I thought that. Maybe that’s what’s making me cry is I feel sad for the person who thought he won’t be able to locate [us].”

    Maybe I’m dumb, but I don’t understand this quote. Wouldn’t you just give him your new address? I’m sure he would have been able to find it with GPS.

    • jinni says:

      I think she maybe talking about his ghost. Maybe I am wrong but it sounds like she moved out of the place she shared with him while he was alive a while after he dead, so now his spirit won’t know where her and their daughter’s new place is. At least that’s the way I read it.

      • perplexed says:

        Oh, okay. That makes sense. Because they broke up when he was alive, I assumed she was talking about living Heath. I didn’t realize she moved out after he died. Now I feel a bit cruel…yikes.

    • Slowsnow says:

      I may be dumb too. My interpretation was that she moved post-Heath’s death and that she was afraid his ghost wouldn’t find them.
      And now I am giggling, imagining a ghost with a GPS device.
      *Hides in shame*.

      • ell says:

        this is my interpretation as well. idk, grief is funny and makes you think funny things. i had such odd thoughts when my grandad passed away.

    • Jess says:

      Lol, this is the cutest comment and I’m not sure you intended it to be, but I’m giggling either way!!

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      Thought she was taking about leaving a place where they had shared memories, tough saying goodbye to that, but ghost with gps is funnier.

  3. Pri says:

    I don’t want to be negative, it is a tricky subject, but doesn’t every interview with her always mention Heath?

    It seems everyone forgets his girlfriend at the time was Gemma Ward, he was not with Michelle. I mean they have a kid together, I know. But it kinds seems odd not to mention he was with Gemma.

    • astrid says:

      I agree. She and Heath weren’t together anymore when he died. Why keep bringing him up?

    • ell says:

      gemma talks about him as well. i think the reason why it was and is a big deal to michelle is because they had a child together, so there’s always gonna be a link no matter what.

    • Nancy says:

      She is looking for an Oscar. She talks about all these sad things, but still has that childlike demeanor about her, like a young Mia Farrow. Heath was out of her life, I can’t remember who she was dating…..then became his faux widow when he died. Of course she loved him as the father of her child, but shouldn’t use his memory to campaign for awards, movies, whatever. People attacked Courtney Love for years for pimping out Kurt, but I guess she was an easier target than the fragile Michelle.

      • ell says:

        ‘People attacked Courtney Love for years for pimping out Kurt’

        tbf the problem with courtney love was different, as in nirvana’s deranged stans blamed her for his death, because she didn’t help him or whatever. it was a lot to do with misogyny.

      • ashley says:

        misogyny … or Courtney love being a friggin lunatic?

    • Eleonor says:

      I find her “professional widow” thing boring. Seriously.

    • jinni says:

      I feel the same way. It feels kind of gimmiky now. Like her image/ shtick is that of Heath’s great love. And I wonder if she has nothing else going on in her life. I am sure she can tell mags she no longer wants to talk about him. It would be as weird as if Keanu Reeves kept talking about River every time he had a movie to promote.

      On the other hand she does have his only kid, who bears a strong resemblance to her dad and probably reminds her of him every day. So in a way he is still very much in her life. Made she also talks about him for her daughters sake since she probably doesn’t remember him. Maybe this is her way of keeping him alive for her. I don’t know.

    • Bridget says:

      At the time of his death he was partying a lot and connected to several women. Not to mention, he and Ward were only together for a few months at most. It’s understandable why people want to hear more from the significant relationships (Michelle & Naomi) vs the person who was distinctive just because she was the last.

    • Maxime DuCamp says:

      Chiming in to add, I think it’s because they split up over his drug use, not because they fell out of love. Also, because, she’s never married or lived with anyone else (I’m aware she’s had a couple of longish relationships), he’s sill seen as her one true love. And as ell said, she has a daughter that looks remarkably like him, so there will always be a link.

      • Millennial says:

        Yeah I don’t know why people give her so much grief for being the “widow” — they only broke up a few months before he died, after a lengthy relationship and having a child together. He was very much still a part of her life, and I speculate she only put an end to it because of the drugs and partying. She probably loved him very deeply, and it impacted her a lot when the very thing she left him for (probably hoping he’d change) is the thing that killed him.

      • Bridget says:

        This may get me in trouble, but I’ve always thought this was romanticized. Heath Ledger seemed like something of a rolling stone – when he was in he was IN, but got bored after a few years. You can just look at the pictures from that time – Michelle lit up like a Christmas tree when she was around him, and I think that’s part of why she’s still asked, because it was the happiest and most unguarded we’ve ever publicly seen her.

  4. k37744 says:

    I always love what she says about single parenthood. Very apt. It’s true that once you realize you’re 100% capable of being everything…..it’d take a hell of a person to bring into the mix. Her little girl has got one strong role model.

  5. ell says:

    but not many movies seem to be shot in actual la, it’s always somewhere else so she’ll be in the same situation.

    i understand the bringing up heath thing, but he is the father of her daughter so he’s kinda always gonna be there. i think she gives good interviews tbh, she gives answers that actually feel like they’re coming from a human being and not from some pr/hybrid creature who’s incredibly hermetic.

  6. amanda says:

    Give me a break. She romanticizes the past every time she talks about Heath. They weren’t together when he passed. So she can shut up about him not being able to find her. She was asked about him, but she didn’t have to respond in a way that actually mentioned him. As if she couldn’t shut those questions down.

  7. QQ says:

    *HOWLLLLLLSS The way this took me right TF out* ” If Michelle Williams is talking about Heath Ledger, you know she’s campaigning for an Oscar.” #WidowLedgerAgain Father God Im not able to find the lie!! ( also I love her hair and how magnificent her skin looks in that main pic)

  8. Evie says:

    Heath hated oscar campaign

  9. Millenial says:

    She only shot Manchester by the Sea for a few days, and took the train up to Boston to do it. She talks about it a bit in her Variety Actors on Actors interview with Natalie Portman. She said when she came up and the whole crew had already been working together for a while and it kind of seemed like she swooped in and did her part and left.

  10. Bridget says:

    Not to be totally pedestrian, but if Michelle wants consistency in her work and a steady home base, perhaps consider television. Or is she too fancy for that?

    • ell says:

      it’s funny the way there are some actors who came from tv, like michelle or jen aniston, who for some reason did not catch up with the fact the good roles are all on tv now.

      that said, unless you work on a show like got where are 1000 characters so the work is diluted, tv is long hours, so maybe she doesn’t want that.

      • Bridget says:

        Network TV yes, but there’s a ton of prestigious, limited series work out there. And in comparison, would a movie have significantly shorter days? I would imagine that Michelle could have her pick of projects and make really good money doing interesting work!

      • Tulip Garden says:

        Jen Aniston actually has commented recently about the best work being available in television. She talked about going back to t.v. Perhaps by way of Netflix.
        I agree with you that television is so good right now both for performers and audiences. I see very few movies as compared to choosing quality television shows to follow.

    • manta says:

      Or maybe having already done it for 5 years made her realize she wasn’t ready to do it again right now?

  11. Jess says:

    I used to like her, but then she dated and broke the heart of my celebrity crush….Jason Segel, and I wasn’t there to pick up the pieces:(

    Seriously though, what she says about single parenting is spot on, especially the school functions, my god the loneliness I felt at those things looking around at all the happy families, but, my time came and at 33 I was swept off my feet and found my unicorn of a husband. Don’t give up on romance, it can happen!!

  12. Bashful says:

    It’s been almost 20 years since my very first boyfriend died. Our relationship was very tumultuous to put it mildly. We had not been together for a year and a half when passed away, however his death was sudden , and tragic. I grieved long and hard.
    He had went through a bit of a man-whore phase after we broke-up, and that being said I still am asked about that relationship, in front of my husband.
    Dead boyfriend was involved in the arts and was becoming successful, and I was a professional dancer up until 3 years ago. Apparently all my emotional range is due to this terrible moment in my life. /sarcasm

  13. perplexed says:

    I think it’s a little odd when she talks about herself as incapable of finding romantic love. She’s had one great love of her life, and a couple of other loves after that. Sure, she didn’t marry any of them, and one of those loves ended tragically, but that’s more romantic love than other people get in a lifetime.

    Her life is a bit unconventional, but she’s also in Hollywood where I don’t think she would be looked at as being THAT unconventional.

  14. SwanLake says:

    I’ve only seen her act on Broadway in a part written for her, and I was completely underwhelmed. Is she regarded as a good actress? I realize stage and screen are different, but her presence in a project won’t compel me into a theater seat.

    • Dee Kay says:

      I saw her in Cabaret and was underwhelmed. She was okay but not great and certainly not memorable. However, in Brokeback Mountain, I thought she was remarkable, and in Manchester BTSI also thought she was quite amazing. Imo she is a terrific character actress onscreen, not so much onstage.

  15. PetalsToo says:

    I must remember incorrectly, but I thought she and Heath Ledger were already exes at the time that he died. Hadn’t they already ended their relationship? I’m not saying that she shouldn’t grieve as much as a widow, not at all. I know women, including @Bashful, are affected by the death of exes even long after the fact. I would like clarification on whether or not they were still together when he died.

  16. Ally8 says:

    I think she just meant that being as focused as she is on the practical aspects of being a working mom, she doesn’t have the same capacity to get all dreamy and distracted by the potential of a new relationship.

    • Tanya says:

      Right. There’s no wishful thinking, or hoping that people change. “Will they treat my kids well” is the first question you ask, and there’s no wiggle room there.

    • Tulip Garden says:

      Agreed. She has her priorities straight, IMO.

  17. Shelley says:

    To me she seems like a professional widow. It may not sound nice, but enough is enough with Heath. I’m a senior citizen in a retirement community and no one here carries on about widowhood like she does. The fact they were divorced at the time makes things even stranger.

  18. Lindy says:

    I dunno… I can’t hate on her for those comments. What she said about being the single mom at school functions is right on. I almost felt like fabricating a husband who traveled just so I didn’t get the weird pity comments, or the “Wow, I don’t know *how* you single moms do it! I couldn’t possibly manage.”

    And now, 4 years post divorce and in my late 30s, I’ve found a great guy. He’s wonderful with my kiddo and kind and supportive and a great match for me. But yeah… There’s nothing grand and romantic. No big gestures. And I’m ok with that. I think she’s not wrong about a lot of what she says.

  19. Jeesie says:

    She only does big profiles and interviews when she has an awards contender out. It’s not like she’s also making action films and rom-coms and not mentioning Heath when promoting them.

    She could request no one ask her about him, but for many people that would feel like brushing them aside. She has a daughter with him. She might actually like the opportunity to speak about him, to remember him and make others remember too.