ON MONDAY EVENING, Busy Philipps boarded a plane and flew across the country to be with Michelle Williams on the anniversary of Heath Ledger’s death.
On Instagram Stories, she posted a photo of Michelle Williams resting her head on her shoulder and wrote, “It’s ok.” She followed it up with a brief video of them listening solemnly as Linger by The Cranberries played in the background.
It was all desperately poignant and a reminder that Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps’ enduring friendship might just be the greatest love story Hollywood has to offer us right now.
As all nineties teen television aficionados will be able to tell you, Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams met on the set of Dawson’s Creek in the early noughties and became fast friends. They wore dodgy clothes on nights out and thought they were only stunning. They shared a mutual obsession for American Idol. They drank cheap wine.
A few years later, Michelle Williams met Heath Ledger on the set of Brokeback Mountain. In 2005, she gave birth to their daughter Matilda. The godmother? None other than Busy Philipps.
When Heath Ledger passed away in 2008, New York Daily News reported that Philipps (who was pregnant at the time) was the only friend staying with Michelle and her mother in the wake of the tragedy.
A paparazzi video from the time shows Philipps’ pleading with photographers to refrain from using flashes so that Williams’ mother can walk safely down some steps.
Will you turn the light off, please? For God’s sake, let her walk. It’s dark out.
Over the next few months, Philipps assumed the role of Williams’ protector, fending off intrusive questions about how her friend was faring.
When Williams returned to the spotlight and started garnering nominations for the likes of Blue Valentine and My Week with Marilyn, she enlisted Busy Philipps to be her red carpet date. The pair walked hand in hand at events and posed for photographs together. Accepting an award at the Hollywood Film Awards in 2012, Williams took a moment to thank Philipps, describing her as “my steady girl and my forever date”.
Thanks for holding my hand all the time.
Since then, Williams and Philipps have remained a red carpet fixture. They’ve attended the Oscars, the Tonys, the SAG Awards. As a prolific user of Instagram, Philipps has spent the past few years documenting their outings and the pair have come to embody the notion of #FriendshipGoals.
We’ve witnessed them take bathroom selfies, reminisce about their love interests on Dawson’s Creek, and indulge in one too many pink drinks. We’ve seen Busy dye Michelle’s hair pink in a hotel room and Michelle re-pierce Busy’s ears after an awards show.
Source: Busy Philipps
These little moments might seem throwaway or trivial, but they illustrate the profoundly intimate bond that the pair share and the power of female friendship.
Because that’s the beauty of female friendship, isn’t it? Plaiting each other’s hair. Drinking too much prosecco. Pulling the wax strip when your mate is too chicken.
Fending off lecherous advances in the club. Foregoing the bop to have a deep, meaningful conversation in a club bathroom. Giving each other piggybacks at the end of the night. Being on hand during breakups and bereavements. Watching crappy reality shows together. Getting up to absolute divilment. Texting to ask how the date is going. Having blistering rows. Laughing about it all later.
Women are often depicted as each other’s worst enemies, but very often we’re each other’s greatest champions and protectors. That’s certainly true in the case of Williams and Philipps, who have demonstrated unwavering support and fierce loyalty to one another in the face of both tragedy and triumph.
In 2016, Williams summed up her friendship with Phillips like so:
I’m so in love with her. She’s proof that the love of your life does not have to be a man. That’s the love of my life right there.
And she’s right! In a world that prizes heterosexual love stories, friendships are often given short shrift. In romantic comedies, the best friend is often depicted as a sidekick to be discarded once the main character finds her Prince Charming.
But where romantic relationships may fizzle, friendships endure. And if you’re lucky, you’ll end up with someone who will fly across the country to listen to Linger with you.
Now there’s a love story to aspire to.