How Michelle Williams' dream about Heath Ledger inspired a Sundance Special Jury Prize winner

·2 min read
How Michelle Williams' dream about Heath Ledger inspired a Sundance Special Jury Prize winner

It's not unusual for Michelle Williams to have a connection to a Sundance film.

But the Oscar-nominated actress has a unique tie to the 2022 Special Jury Award winner for Uncompromising Artistic Vision, Blood.

Directed by Bradley Rust Gray, the film follows a young woman, Chloe (Carla Juri), who travels to Japan after the death of her husband. There, she finds solace in an old friend, Toshi (Takashi Ueno), but as that comfort turns to affection, she grapples with giving herself permission to fall in love again.

Gray revealed that the plot of the film was inspired by his friend, actress Michelle Williams, and her own experiences grieving and healing after the death of her former husband Heath Ledger. The title of the film even came to Williams in a dream.

Williams was originally attached to star in the film, but she backed out, deciding it was too painful for her to re-open these old wounds. "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. "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."

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams

Eric Lin; Inset:Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images Takashi Ueno and Carla Juri; Michelle Williams in 'Blood'

"I don't think the title of the film, Blood, is about the definition of that word," he added. "I think of it like a song title. Sometimes a song title doesn't necessarily describe the lyrics of the song or anything else, but it sort of puts the song in a certain space. In Japan, blood and blood types are a way of looking at things, like how you might find a match based on your horoscope. What type of blood you have matches you with another person who is of that type of blood. It's just something that we don't see. I think the word 'blood' has different meanings, and I like the fact that it doesn't have a single definition."

There are an array of special jury awards at the annual Sundance film festival, and Blood is the recipient of the award for Uncompromising Artistic Vision. "For a special jury award for an uncompromising artistic vision we celebrate Bradley Rust Gray for his film Blood," juror Payman Maadi said in a statement. "Rust gently walks us through an authentic journey of grief that invites us to observe intimate moments of human connection. It is sometimes the small changes that leave a lasting effect on your life. Sometimes to ease your pain and find yourself, you have to leave your comfortable surroundings to find a world that will help you know yourself better."

Related content:

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting