Ledger had relationships with actresses Lisa Zane, Heather Graham and Naomi Watts. In 2004, he met and began dating actress Michelle Williams on the set of Brokeback Mountain. Their daughter, Matilda Rose, was born on 28 October 2005 in New York City. Matilda's godparents are Brokeback co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Williams' Dawson's Creek co-star Busy Philipps. In January 2006, Ledger put his residence in Bronte, New South Wales, up for sale, and returned to the United States, where he shared a house with Williams, in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, from 2005 to 2007. In September 2007, Williams' father confirmed to Sydney's The Daily Telegraph that Ledger and Williams had ended their relationship. After Ledger's death, news outlets reported that his drug abuse had prompted Williams to request that he move out of the apartment they shared in Brooklyn.
Ledger received "Best Actor of 2005" awards from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his performance in Brokeback Mountain, in which he plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis Del Mar, who has a love affair with aspiring rodeo rider Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He also received a nomination for Golden Globe Best Actor in a Drama and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor for this performance, making him, at age 26, the ninth-youngest nominee for a Best Actor Oscar. In The New York Times review of the film, critic Stephen Holden writes: "Both Mr. Ledger and Mr. Gyllenhaal make this anguished love story physically palpable. Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn." In a review in Rolling Stone, Peter Travers states: "Ledger's magnificent performance is an acting miracle. He seems to tear it from his insides. Ledger doesn't just know how Ennis moves, speaks and listens; he knows how he breathes. To see him inhale the scent of a shirt hanging in Jack's closet is to take measure of the pain of love lost."
Directors who have worked with the actor praised him for his creativity, seriousness and intuition. "I've never felt as old as I did watching Heath explore his talents," The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan has written, expressing amazement over the actor's working process, genuine curiosity and charisma. Marc Forster, who directed Ledger in Monster's Ball, complimented him as taking the job "very seriously", being disciplined, observant, and understanding and intuitive. In 2007, director Todd Haynes compared Ledger's presence to actor James Dean, casting Ledger as Robbie Clarke, a fictive personification of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. Drawing on the similar characteristics between the actors, Haynes further highlighted Ledger's "precocious seriousness" and intuition. He also felt that Ledger had a rare maturity beyond his years." Ledger, however, disconnected himself and acting from perfectionism. "I'm always gonna pull myself apart and dissect [the work]. I mean, there's no such thing as perfection in what [actors] do. Pornos are more perfect than we are, because they're actually fucking."
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^ Jump up to: a b Janet Fife-Yeomans (15 July 2008). "Entertainment: Heath Ledger's Daughter Matilda's Estate Claim Decision". news.com.au. News Limited. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2008. [Matilda Rose's] mother, actor Michelle Williams, will have to officially lodge a claim with the court supported by an affidavit which could end up in the public domain, legal experts said.
^ Nick Squires (1 April 2008). "Heath Ledger 'fathered a secret love child' ". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 6 August 2008. If the claims are proved to be true, Ledger's multi-million pound estate would have to be divided between the child he fathered in his teens and his two-year-old daughter, Matilda Rose, whose mother is Hollywood actress Michelle Williams. ... The actor's parents, Kim and Sally Ledger, have declined to comment on the reports [based on comments by other family members, including his uncle Haydn Ledger].