Everything She’s Said About Parenting

Michelle Williams is a proud mom of three who is “continuously searching” for a work-life balance.

The Greatest Showman actress first became a mother in October 2005 when she welcomed daughter Matilda with her then-boyfriend, the late Heath Ledger. In 2020, Williams tied the knot with director Thomas Kail, two years after the pair met on the set of Fosse/Verdon. Matilda reportedly played matchmaker for the couple, who have now welcomed two kids together, their son Hart and another baby born in 2022.

In January 2023, Williams opened up to Entertainment Weekly about taking on one of her biggest roles to date in The Fablemans after welcoming her third child.

“It’s amazing because we all do it. That’s how every human gets here, is a woman giving of herself,” she said. “[Babies] have to arrive, and they have to be sustained, all of it. So I’m continuously searching because balance isn’t a stable place. Balance means that you’re always adjusting.”

Williams added, “My heart obviously belongs to my children; they tug at it the most. But I really want to be able to have both. And I think that it requires deep thought and learning and the support of other women to figure out how to get through it.”

Here’s everything Michelle Williams has said about her three kids.

Matilda Ledger, 18

Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams at the 78th Annual Academy Awards.
Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Williams and Ledger welcomed their only child together, daughter Matilda Rose Ledger, on Oct. 28, 2005, in New York City. A few weeks after giving birth, Williams opened up to USA Today and the Boston Herald about why she chose to name their daughter Matilda.

“I came up with it on the subway one day,” she said. “It just fell from the sky and into my head. And I love, love the Roald Dahl book Matilda. I didn’t think about it at the time, but then afterwards, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the girl I want: reads lots of books and makes things move with her eyes.’ That’ll be my daughter, for sure.”

When Matilda was 2 years old, Williams and Ledger split after three years together. A few months later, the Brokeback Mountain actor died from an accidental drug overdose. While the actress has previously said raising Matilda without Ledger “just won’t ever be right,” she had many friends and family who supported her.

“[Matilda] can know her dad in so many ways, and so many of his friends who will be able to tell her so many stories,” she told Vogue in October 2009. “His friends, his family — they were a big part of his life, and they will be a big part of her life.”

In May 2022, Williams recalled to Variety how longtime friend Jeremy Strong moved in with her and Matilda following Ledger’s death.

“Jeremy was serious enough to hold the weight of a child’s broken heart and sensitive enough to understand how to approach her through play and games and silliness,” she said. “[Matilda] didn’t grow up with her father, but she grew up with her Jeremy and we were changed by his ability to play as though his life depended upon it, because hers did.”

Matilda is also very close to Ledger’s family. In September 2008, his family made the decision to give the actor’s entire estate to his daughter.

“Our family has gifted everything to Matilda,” Ledger’s father Kim told PEOPLE. “That was the plan from the moment my boy passed away. There was never any question about the fact that Heath’s estate would go to Matilda. Never a question. We are very close to Michelle and Matilda.”

Williams mainly keeps Matilda out of the spotlight in order to give her a relatively normal childhood. The actress told Vanity Fair in July 2018 that her daughter “hasn’t had her routine disrupted and hasn’t missed class.”

“[I’m] less scheduled, less regulated, less hustle, less go go go,” she explained. “I parent to let Matilda feel free to be herself.”

Matilda seems to appreciate Williams’ parenting style because she gifted her mom a Mother’s Day card in 2017, thanking her for it. “For Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a card that said, ‘Mom, thanks for letting me be me,’ and it was a picture with somebody in high heels on a skateboard,” the actress said at a press conference for Wonderstruck, per USA Today. “That’s my ultimate (goal); that’s what I want them to do.”

In January 2020, Williams gave her daughter a sweet shout-out in her acceptance speech for outstanding performance by a female actor in a miniseries or television movie for her work in Fosse/Verdon at the SAG Awards.

“Matilda, it’s one thing to be completely honest as an actor — it’s another thing to be completely honest as a human being,” she said. “And that’s just who you are and how you live, and you teach me just by being you. I love you and I’m coming home.”

Hart Kail, 4

Thomas Kail and Michelle Williams at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2020.
John Shearer/Getty

Williams and Kail welcomed their son Hart Kail in 2020. After the actress’s pregnancy news was revealed in December 2019, a source told PEOPLE that Williams was “happy and fulfilled and ready for another child.”

A few weeks later, the couple made a rare red carpet appearance at the 2020 SAG Awards, with Williams showing off her baby bump under an elegant black off-the-shoulder custom silk gown by Louis Vuitton.

In May 2022, Williams opened up to Variety about what it was like to become a mother again during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a reminder that life goes on,” she said. “The world we brought a baby into is not the world we thought we were bringing a baby into, but the baby is ignorant of that. He experiences the unmitigated joy of discovery and the happiness of a loving home.”

The actress continued, “There’s nothing that makes you committed to a better world than raising a great kid. It’s the ultimate creative act,” added Williams. “The most ecstatic moments of life and art are the transcendent ones. Having children is like that. You combine your DNA with someone else to create a new life.”

Though the Blue Valentine actress doesn’t often speak about Hart, she did reveal that he loves Christmas during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan in November 2022.

“He just wants the reindeer over and over again,” she said. “He’s really trying to learn their names. Do the reindeer. But it’s all Christmas songs. He gets three songs before bed and they’re all Christmas carols.”

Michelle Williams’ third child

Michelle Williams at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Williams and Kail welcomed their second child together in 2022. The couple were spotted walking in N.Y.C. with a newborn baby in October, but neither of their reps commented on the news at the time.

While they have yet to reveal the child’s name or sex, Williams opened up to Variety in May 2022 about expanding her family.

“It’s totally joyous. As the years go on, you sort of wonder what they might hold for you or not hold for you,” she said. “It’s exciting to discover that something you want again and again, is available one more time. That good fortune is not lost on me or my family.”

Later that month, the Dawson’s Creek alum showed off her baby bump at the Cannes Film Festival. She walked the red carpet in a floor-length wrap dress which featured a navy blue, textured floral print.

After welcoming her third child, Williams made an appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan in November 2022, where she shared the family of five’s Christmas plans.

“We’ve seen White Christmas so many times,” she said. “Matilda loves those movies so, so much and I’m excited to have her show those to the younger kids.”

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