NEW YORK - Michelle Williams ended her silence Friday, saying her "heart is broken" over the death of "Brokeback Mountain" actor Heath Ledger. The 27-year-old actress and Ledger became a couple during filming of 2005's "Brokeback," in which they costarred as husband and wife. They later moved to New York, and had a daughter, Matilda, born October 2005.
"Please respect our need to grieve privately," Williams said in a statement. "My heart is broken. I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day."
Before they split last year, Ledger and Williams lived together in Brooklyn's quiet, tree-lined Boerum Hill neighborhood. Last week, well-wishers left bouquets of flowers outside the four-story, sage-green brownstone with a black wrought-iron fence.
"His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still," Williams said. "She will be brought up in the best memories of him."
Ledger, 28, died in his Manhattan apartment Jan. 22. Authorities suspect a possible drug overdose, but the cause of his death is still pending the outcome of toxicology tests. Police said several prescription drugs were found in the Manhattan apartment where the actor's body was found.
Williams, who also played Jen Lindley on TV's "Dawson's Creek," was nominated for a supporting-actress Oscar for her "Brokeback" role. When Ledger died, Williams and Matilda were in Trollhattan, Sweden, where she had been shooting scenes for the upcoming film "Mammoth."
Though she was soon spotted returning to the Brooklyn home where the couple once lived together, she managed to dodge reporters and steer mostly clear of camera crews, and chose to stay silent until Friday's statement.