Nine days after Heath Ledger was found dead at his New York apartment, Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams has issued her first public statement regarding the tragic death of her ex-fiance, pleading with fans and journalists to honor her need for privacy.
"Please respect our need to grieve privately," Williams said in a statement released Friday by her spokesperson, who also represented Ledger. "My heart is broken."
Williams and Ledger met and became romantically involved on the set of the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain," where they played the Del Mars, a husband and wife separated by his relationship with Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Soon after, Williams gave birth to the couple's only child, Matilda Rose, on October 28, 2005.
It is through the spirit of his daughter that Ledger lives on, Williams said.
"I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father," Williams continued in the statement. "All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day."
According to Williams, that spirit manifests itself in Matilda's burgeoning curiosity, her love for all creatures and her fearlessness in tackling new challenges.
"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 with the best memories of him."
The filming of Williams' latest movie, "Blue Valentine," has been postponed to allow the actress time to mourn. It was set to begin filming February 25.
For more on Heath Ledger's tragic passing, read reactions from his admirers, as well as casting directors he worked with. Also, watch Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview with MTV News.