When Heath Ledger died, "it felt like we didn’t have anything," Michelle Williams recalls in a new Vogue cover story. But three years later, "my life—our life—has kind of repaired itself," she says. "It's not a perfectly operating system—there are holes and dips and electrical storms—but the basics are intact." Even so, she admits Ledger's death has affected almost everything she does: "It’s changed how I see the world and how I interact on a daily basis. It’s changed the parent I am. It’s changed the friend I am. It’s changed the kind of work that I really want to do. It’s become the lens through which I see life—that it’s all impermanent."
"For a really long time," she recalls, "I couldn’t stop touching people’s faces. I was like, ‘Look at you! You move! You’re here!’ It all just seemed so fleeting, and I wanted to hold on to it." Now, Williams is starring as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, a role that is particularly special to her, and she says she's found her voice upon turning 30: "I have more confidence that I can handle what life brings me. ... I feel giddy about it because it’s a complete transformation." Click to see her dressed as Monroe on the magazine's cover. (Read more Michelle Williams stories.)