Matilda Ledger is an American 14-year old girl who gained public interest in being the daughter of actors Michelle Williams and the late Heath Ledger, who was best known for his Academy Award-winning performance as Joker in “The Dark Knight.”
Matilda Rose Ledger of American-Australian descent was born on 28 October 2005 in New York City, New York, USA. Her parents are actors, American Michelle Williams and Australian Heath Ledger. She is an only child.
Her parents met and fell in love in 2004 while filming the Academy Award-nominated movie, “Brokeback Mountain.” When Matilda was born after a year of dating, Heath decided to sell his Australian home in Bronte, New South Wales so he can permanently be with her and Michelle. He bought a house at Boerum Hill, Brooklyn in New York where they lived together for three years from 2005 up to 2007.
Her parents then separated five months before her father met his untimely death due to accidental prescription medication overdose in January of 2008.
Who is Heath Ledger?
Heath Andrew Ledger was born on 4 April 1979 in, Perth, Western Australia. His parents are Sally Ramshaw, a French language teacher, and Kim Ledger, a car racer and a mining engineer whose family owned Ledger Engineering Foundry and established the Sir Frank Ledger Charitable Trust, named after his great-grandfather, to support the schooling of disadvantaged people by giving scholarship grants. He has an older sister, Kate, who was a former actress who now works as a publicist. The siblings were named after characters Heathcliff and Catherine from their mother’s favorite novel, “Wuthering Heights,” written by Emily Bronte under her alias Ellis Bell.
His parents separated when he was 10 years old and both of his parents later remarried. He has a half-sister from each parent, Ashleigh Bell and Emma Brown. He attended the Mary’s Mount Primary School for his primary education and later was enrolled in an all-boys campus, Guildford Grammar School for his secondary education.
At age 16, he left school to pursue an acting career inspired by his sister’s budding acting career after appearing extra in a film, “Clowning Around,” released in 1992. He was represented by sister’s agent but it was a series of ups and downs. After taking a part in a canned TV series, he became friends with actor, Martin Henderson. Martin invited Heath to pursue his acting dreams in the main city.
Along with his childhood friend Trevor DiCarlo, who later became his assistant in his movies, Heath packed his bags in Perth and started his professional acting career in Sydney. Work came easily to him and he was part of two television series such as “Roar” and “Home Away from Home” in 2007. He also had his first film appearance in a movie, “Blackrock,” in the same year.
Through his American agent, he was offered a role in the romantic comedy, “10 Things I Hate About You,” opposite Julia Stiles. It had a moderate commercial success considering that “Matrix” was being shown at the same time. He was noticed by producers but all that was offered to him were romantic-comedy teen student types of roles. Heath wanted to be a proper actor and wanted serious roles. His agent was instructed not to accept those types of roles even if he had to live off of noodles and bread for a year.
His patience was rewarded when he was offered a part in Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” in 2000. He butchered his first audition attempt by being conscious of his lack of experience. He walked out but Gibson and the director Roland Emmerich saw potential in him. Heath was called back and he nailed it on this second attempt.
His popularity soared in his next movie, “A Knight’s Tale,” with the lead role in 2001. It was a commercial success earning $169 million in the box office against a budget of $65 million. However, his next movie, “Four Feathers,” was a financial letdown. His career could have taken a nosedive if not for “Monster Ball” with Halle Berry. Heath wasn’t originally part of it but actor Wes Bentley wanted a break desperately and to avoid a problem with the studios, he gave the role to Heath. It was a small role but his acting was favorably noticed again. A series of successful and not-so-successful movies followed, and made him one of the most popular Australian actors in Hollywood.
His star shone even brighter when he did “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005 with Jake Gyllenhaal. The controversial gay romantic story between married cowboys was not only a commercial success but also a critical one, and which won him several acting awards such as Best Actor from New York Film Critics Award and Australian Film Institute. He was also nominated for the same category in BAFTA and the Academy Awards.
The Dark Knight
In 2008, he played the role of Joker in “The Dark Knight,” wherein he nearly swept all acting awards in the Best Supporting Actor category for that year posthumously including BAFTA, Academy Awards, and Golden Globes. It grossed more than a billion dollars from both local and international territories.
On 22 January 2008, Heath was found unconscious in his Manhattan apartment by his housekeeper when his therapist came for his scheduled appointment.
The therapist called Mary-Kate Olsen who was Heath’s friend to inform her of Heath’s status, and Mary-Kate who was in Los Angeles at that time told them that she will sent a private security to assist them. They called 911 and when paramedics arrived, they were not able to revive him. An investigation occurred to find out if there was any foul play or if it’s a case of suicide. After an autopsy was made, the police concluded that it was an overdose of prescription medication. Apparently, he was having a hard time sleeping and his death was a result of a dangerous mixture of diazepam, hydrocodone, doxylamine, and oxycodone. Further investigations were made on his doctors but they were later exonerated. Even Mary-Kate Olsen was supposed to be subpoenaed as there were some allegations in the media that she supplied him with the prescribed drugs but when the reporter recanted, she was no longer part of the investigation.
Who is Michelle Williams?
Michelle Williams was born on 9 September 1980 in Kalispell, Montana USA to parents Carla Ingrid Williams, a homemaker, and Larry R. Williams, an author and a futures trader. Her father ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate elections as a Republican candidate twice but failed in both times. She is an American of Norwegian descent and has a younger sister, Paige, along with three paternal half-siblings. Growing up, she had fond memories of her father in Montana but their family was not very close. They moved to San Diego, California when she was 9 years old and she developed an interest in acting after she saw a stage play of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” She then participated in the local production of “Annie” and after that, her parents supported her acting dreams by driving her to auditions in Los Angeles. She was able to get small roles in TV shows such as “Baywatch,” “Lassie,” “Home Improvement,” and “Step by Step.”
After completing her 9th grade at Santa Fe Christian Schools in 1995, she decided to seriously pursue acting as a profession. She decided to stop her formal schooling and just be home-schooled to get her high school diploma. Due to child labor work requirements and restrictions, she filed for emancipation for minors law with the consent of her parents. Living solo in Burbank after her emancipation from her parents, she met people with unsavory characters but she was able to financially support herself by appearing in commercials and indie movies.
Michelle’s first taste of success was when she was part of the main cast in a popular teen TV series, “Dawson’s Creek.” It lasted for six seasons and catapulted the careers of James Van Deer Beek, Katie Holmes, and Joshua Jackson.
Michelle’s acting performance gained favorable reviews. A series of television and movie roles were offered to her.
After “Dawson’s Creek” was finished, she transferred to New York City. She accepted theatre roles and took part in art-house films. She would get acting nominations from lesser-known award-giving bodies and reputable movie critics would be impressed by her performances.
In 2005, she took the role of Alma, the wife of Ennis who was a gay ranch cowboy played by Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain.” She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in the Academy Awards for that role. She stopped doing movies for a while after she gave birth to her child, Matilda. When she decided to do movies again, she never ran out of work as she was easy to work with.
— Michelle Williams (@MichelleWFans) January 20, 2020
She made several movies and the most notable ones are “Shutter Island” with Leonardo DiCaprio, which earned about $295 million in 2010; “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman in 2017, which earned $435 million; and “Venom” with Tom Hardy, which earned $856 million in 2018.
However, from all the movies she made, it was “All the Money in the World” with Mark Wahlberg in 2017 that made her the center of a controversial issue in Hollywood – gender pay inequality. Apparently, during a reshoot made in the film when Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer due to his sexual assault allegations, Wahlberg was paid a whopping $1.5 million while Michelle was paid $80 per day. Outraged, many actresses take the issue on social media apps and when asked if it’s okay to tweet about it, Michelle said, ‘Yeah, sure, go for it. But it’s already out there, and nobody cared.’
However, with the MeToo movement, it was the perfect time to appeal to its injustice. Wahlberg decided to just donate his reshooting fee to the movement in Michelle’s name. A change in women’s treatment was inevitable in Hollywood. She married singer-songwriter Phil Elverum in 2018 at an intimate wedding. She said that she never gave up on love.
Matilda’s life is as normal as it can be with her mother trying her best to avoid getting her into the limelight after her father’s death. She along with her mother is currently residing in New York, and she is enrolled in a private school. Michelle said that Matilda is very much similar to her father in many ways and she makes sure that Matilda would know his father’s real persona even if he is no longer around. She told Matilda, ‘Your dad loved me before anybody thought I was talented, or pretty, or had nice clothes.’
Interesting Facts and Controversy
- Her godparents are actors, Jake Gyllenhaal, her father’s “Brokeback Mountain” co-star and Busy Philipps, her mother’s “Dawson Creek” co-star.
- At the very young age of two, her name was dragged into the headlines when it was found out that she and her mother were not included in her father’s will. Apparently, he made that will before Heath met Michelle. Several of Heath’s relatives as well as her mother was allegedly claiming the inheritance but it was denied by the grandfather. The grandfather released a statement to the press that ‘There is no claim. Our family has gifted everything to Matilda.’
Matilda is 5ft 1in. (1.55m) tall and weighs around 95lbs (43kgs). She is Caucasian with light brown hair and dark brown eyes.
From her father’s estate, sources estimated she inherited about $16 million.