According to Entertainment Weekly, director Bradley Rust Gray recently shared that his new movie Blood, which won the Special Jury Award for Uncompromising Artistic Vision at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival last week, was inspired by his friend Williams and her personal experience grieving the 2008 death of Ledger.
Gray told the outlet that Williams was originally set to star in the film herself, but later decided that she didn't feel comfortable revisiting such a personal story and stepped down instead.
"We both shared this weight, of death, and the feeling that you always carry that weight when somebody close to you dies," Gray said in a statement to EW. "When we were getting ready to shoot the film, she realized it was all a little too close for her still, and she politely bowed out."
Gray also told the outlet that Williams was the one who came up with the movie's title, which came to her in a dream. The actress' rep had no immediate comment on his remarks when reached by E! News.
Actress Carla Juri was ultimately cast in the lead role of Chloe in Blood, which sees the character travel to Japan following the death of her husband. There, she reconnects with an old friend named Toshi (Takashi Ueno). As romantic feelings develop between the pair, Chloe must deal with her complex feelings and decide if she truly feels ready to fall in love again.
Williams and Ledger first met on the set of 2004's Brokeback Mountain and dated for three years before his passing. They share a 16-year-old daughter, Matilda Ledger, whom Williams has raised out of the spotlight. In 2020, the actress married theater director Thomas Kail and then welcomed a second child.
Williams has rarely spoken about her personal life. In a statement after Ledger's death, she called Matilda "the spitting image of her father," adding, "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 in the best memories of him."