Supermodel Gemma Ward is breaking her silence about her relationship with troubled actor Heath Ledger in the months before his tragic death in 2008.

Ward tells Australia's Herald Sun newspaper that Ledger's death caused her to drop out of the media spotlight for several years. The model will make her theatrical debut at the Perth Theatre Company in Western Australia later this year.

"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."

Ward and Ledger met in November 2007. They spent Christmas together in Perth before they returned to New York. Ledger died from an accidental drug overdose on Jan. 22, 2008.