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Why Michelle Williams decided to go public with her secret wedding and love story

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Kayleigh Dray
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Michelle Williams

Following the death of her ex Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams has avoided publicly commenting on any of her relationships – until now.

Grief affects us all, no matter what our circumstances – and Michelle Williams is no exception.

On 22 January 2008, her former partner and close friend, Heath Ledger, passed away from an accidental overdose: since then, Williams has raised their daughter, Matilda, by herself.

Understandably, the All The Money In The World actress has always made an effort to keep her personal life – particularly any romantic relationships – away from the public eye. However, in a new interview, Williams has quietly confirmed that she recently married indie musician Phil Elverum. 

According to Vanity Fair, it was an incredibly intimate affair: the couple said “I do” in front of a handful of friends and their two daughters (Elverum’s late wife passed away in 2016 when their daughter was 18 months old).

Opening up about the “very sacred and very special” moment, Williams explains:“I never gave up on love. Obviously I’ve never once in my life talked about a relationship, but Phil isn’t anyone else. And that’s worth something.”

She continues: “Ultimately the way he loves me is the way I want to live my life on the whole. I work to be free inside of the moment. I parent to let Matilda feel free to be herself, and I am finally loved by someone who makes me feel free.”

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In the interview, Williams goes on to explain that she did not decide to go public with her love life on a whim: instead, she wanted to open up about her relationship on the chance that other women might find hope or instruction in her story. 

“I don’t really want to talk about any of it,” she says. “But there’s that tease, that lure, that’s like, What if this helps somebody? What if somebody who has always journeyed in this way, who has struggled as much as I struggled, and looked as much as I looked, finds something that helps them?” 

In the end, she says, what she’s learned is simple: “Don’t settle. Don’t settle for something that feels like a prison, or is hard, or hurts you. 

“If it doesn’t feel like love, it’s not love.”

It is for this same reason – this desire to help and inspire other women in similar circumstances – that Williams has allowed herself to become the poster-child for pay inequality.

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million for reshooting his scenes in All the Money in the World, while Williams was paid an $80 per diem totalling less than $1,000. This means that Williams was paid less than 1% of her male co-star, an experience she cites as leaving her feeling “totally de-valued”.

As soon as the gross discrepancy was made public, the women of Hollywood furiously took to Twitter in their droves – with the likes of Mia Farrow, Jessica Chastain and Sophia Bush branding it evidence of the entertainment industry’s “outrageously unfair” gender pay gap.

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At the time, Williams said: “My fellow actresses stood by me and stood up for me, my activist friends taught me to use my voice, and the most powerful men in charge, they listened and they acted. If we truly envision an equal world, it takes equal effort and sacrifice”.

Now, she says that she wishes she herself had helped lead the charge – no matter how out-of-character it may have felt.

“It’s a very hard thing for me to navigate,” she says, “because my instinct is to keep my life very, very private. But I also need and want certain things out of my career that demand I assume a more public voice.”

Essentially, it seems Williams has found her voice. And, whenever and wherever she can use it to help others, she can and will.

You can read all about Times Up and learn how to get involved here.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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