One of my favorite doll-faced models, Gemma Ward, has been noticeably absent from the editorial and runway circuit for a few years now. Besides a handful of stray photos that showed her controversial weight gain, she’s only recently regained industry buzz surrounding her upcoming role in Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
While it was always speculated, the model recently came clean about why she suddenly became a recluse: She was in a romantic relationship with fellow Australian Heath Ledger in the months right before his death.
According to The Fashion Spot, Ward’s relationship with the actor was more than just a rumor. “I have taken a break from the media spotlight for the past few years and it was something spurred by Heath’s death,” she said. “(Heath and I) first met in New York and we were both struggling with things that I won’t get into, and we bonded over that.”
Back in 2007 when Ward was only 20 the pair spent Christmas together in Perth, Australia with their families, and less than a month later, Ledger passed away. Ward claims that she’ll always remember Ledger for his devotion to his daughter, and that she’s grateful for the time that she was able to spend with the actor.
I admire the model for keeping the details of this relationship private for as long as she did, especially for the sake of Ledger’s family (unlike Lindsay Lohan who couldn’t tell the media fast enough that she was “dating” the actor when he died). But Ward’s got an Australian theater debut and a movie coming out, and nothing garners publicity better than airing out some dirty laundry.
Photo: Steven Meisel