Citizen CELEB
Professional Celebrity Addicts

Michelle Williams seeks peace and normal life for Matilda

photo by Dan Estabrook

MICHELLE WILLIAMS has an Academy Award nomination, the open adulation of major filmmakers and a résumé that is striking in its worldliness and creative ambition. But if her career has seemed to progress almost inconspicuously, it is partly because of its introspective bent — small movies, subtle performances — and partly because it has lately existed in the shadow of her personal life.
Ms. Williams’s maturity and capacity for quietly wrenching pathos were apparent even on the teenage soap “Dawson’s Creek,” on which she played the troubled Jen Lindley. In her film roles she has revealed a gift both for screwball comedy (“Dick,” “The Baxter”) and bruising emotional drama (most memorably in her Oscar-nominated performance as the spurned wife Alma in Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain”). She has repeatedly taken chances on under-the-radar indies (“The Station Agent,” “The Hawk Is Dying”) while catching the attention of auteurs like Wim Wenders (“Land of Plenty”), Todd Haynes (“I’m Not There”) and Martin Scorsese (the forthcoming “Shutter Island”).

But Ms. Williams, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has become a very public figure for reasons that have little to do with her work. While shooting “Brokeback Mountain” in 2004 she fell into a much-chronicled romance with her co-star Heath Ledger. Stalked by paparazzi, their every move monitored in the gossip pages, the couple set up house in Brooklyn and had a daughter, Matilda. They separated last summer, but the tabloid scrutiny did not let up and if anything has intensified since Mr. Ledger suffered a fatal drug overdose in January.

Source: NYTimes/DENNIS LIM

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