In GQ, the actress talks about playing a sex kitten, long losing Heath Ledger, Dawson’s Creek and much more. Here are some of the highlights.
On Heath Ledger: “Our initial meeting, the circumstances of how we first met, were cosmic or something. Yeah, a lot of things happened at once. It’s a bit like: We had a lot of things to do, because we didn’t have a lot of time, or something.”
On Heath’s death: “It was making me crazy. I felt like I was going crazy. It was too much—trying to deal with what had happened and trying to deal with what was at our doorstep. I just felt trapped. And it’s not just me—there’s somebody else who I’m trying to protect [daughter Matilda], and I can’t. I can’t make it stop, I can’t make it go away. Trying to find ways to explain it or shield her from it. It’s like you’re trying to go about your life, and make dinner.”
On Brokeback Mountain: “I didn’t know what to make of it,” she says. “Maybe when you see something different for the first time, you don’t know how to categorize it. It doesn’t really fit with anything else. Like the first time you listen to Björk. The first time you eat sashimi.” She hasn’t seen it since. But she does know what she thinks of it now. “I think it’s a great film. And…it’s probably obvious but…” She pauses for a long time, and when she picks up the thought her voice is quieter and higher: “…well, he’s really quite astounding in it. Heath.”
On how her Dawson’s Creek character, Jen, influenced her: “I wouldn’t say that that would be one of my first qualities as a human being—being sexy. And I think because my character on Dawson’s Creek was sexy… sexualized… sexual…I saw all the negative attention and connotations that can come along with that. And that those things can keep people from seeing you clearly.”
On being legally emancipated at 15: When Williams legally emancipated herself from her parents at 15, she didn’t do so because of any family schism, but for the independence and the practical advantages—she says she no longer needed a tutor and could work adult hours. When I suggest that it was pretty ambitious and self-contained to think she could handle it, she agrees. “It was just stupid. I didn’t know what I was taking on,” she says. “I don’t think things through very often—I don’t project into the future about how a situation will turn out. Even the simplest things, I’m guilty of making really bad decisions a lot of the time. In my work it’s a capacity that’s served me well, but in my life it can be a problem.”
For more, visit GQ.com.