February 1, 2008 / 5:35 PM / 12 years ago

Michelle Williams says heart broken over Ledger

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In her first statement since the death of her former companion Heath Ledger, actress Michelle Williams said she is suffering from a broken heart and asked for privacy for her and daughter Matilda.

Heath Ledger (R) kisses Michelle Williams during the NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles March 6, 2006. In her first statement since the death of her former companion Heath Ledger, Williams asked for privacy for her and daughter Matilda and said she suffers from a broken heart. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“Please respect our need to grieve privately,” Williams said in a statement released Friday by Ledger’s spokeswoman. “My heart is broken.”

Williams, 27, and Ledger, an Australian actor, met on the set of the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain,” fell in love and had Matilda, who is now 2 years old. They split up in September.

“I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father,” Williams said in her statement.

“All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. 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. She will be brought up with the best memories of him.”

Ledger, 28, and Williams lived together in New York and there was speculation they planned to marry, although they never officially confirmed an engagement.

Ledger was found dead in his bed on January 22 in his New York apartment with sleeping pills and prescription drugs nearby, police said. The cause of death has yet to be determined but an official with the New York Medical Examiner’s office said autopsy results were due Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest.

The actor’s body has been flown home to Australia where his family is arranging a private funeral and memorial.

Ledger’s spokeswoman told Reuters that if a public service is held, the family would share those arrangements. Williams’ whereabouts were not disclosed.

In recent days, several celebrity magazines have cited unnamed sources as saying Ledger was using drugs including cocaine, and his party lifestyle caused the breakup with Williams but none of those reports could be confirmed.

Also this week, U.S. TV shows “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” backed off plans to air a 2-year-old video in which Ledger talked about smoking marijuana in the past after his publicity firm, ID-PR, circulated an e-mail asking Hollywood’s creative community to protest the planned airing.

Portions of the video, on which Ledger does not use drugs, were shown on the U.S. East Coast versions of the programs on Wednesday night but not on the West Coast.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the TV shows’ spokeswoman said they had decided against airing further portions of the video “out of respect for Heath Ledger’s family.”

Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Bill Trott

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