Cheat Sheet: Michelle Williams
Michelle Ingrid Williams
Date of Birth:
9th September 1980
Place of birth:
Kalispell, MT, USA
Acting. No bullshit, just acting.
Brokeback Mountain, I’m Not There, Shutter Island, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn
What you probably already know:
Michelle Williams (not to be confused, as I did for about three years, with the quondam member of Destiny’s Child) is the best pixie-haired actress in the world. You heard me, Carey Mulligan. You’ve probably seen her being married to that naughty homosexual Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (and then heard about her subsequently having his child and so on), and you may remember her as Leo DiCaprio’s crazy dead wife in Shutter Island. If you’ve got any sort of sense then you’re also anxiously awaiting the release of her new film My Week with Marilyn, in which she plays Norma Jean herself.
Williams’ first of two Oscar nominations to date came when she was 25 and picked up a Best Supporting Actress nod for Brokeback Mountain. Her second nomination – this time for Best Actress – was for her performance in Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance’s harrowing romantic drama which paired Williams with the equally talented and gorgeous Ryan Gosling for the first time since 2003’s critical failure The United States of Leland. Perhaps because Blue Valentine is conspicuously free from autistic children getting stabbed to death, it fared rather better and cemented Williams’ status as a bona fide star.
What you might not know:
Although she’s only really been on our radar for six or seven years, Michelle Williams has been gamely plugging away for the best part of two decades. Her first film role was in 1994’s Lassie, made when she was 13, and two years later she emancipated herself from her parents in order to circumvent both child labour laws and their disapproval. Small screen success came shortly afterwards with a starring role in Dawson’s Creek (alongside a pre-crazy Katie Holmes), and when Williams appeared in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later – extraordinarily, the seventh of ten films in the series – the foundations of her career were established.
Williams is, perversely, well-known for taking roles in films which are anything but. Between 2000 and 2005 she starred in a series of features that you’ve almost certainly never seen, with costars ranging from Anna Friel (in Me Without You) to Peter Dinklage (in The Station Agent) via Christina Ricci (in Prozac Nation) and Meat Loaf (in A Hole in One). This run of obscure roles was to change, of course, with the release of Ang Lee’s universally acclaimed romance Brokeback Mountain – as mentioned above, Williams went on to have a relationship and a daughter with her onscreen husband Heath Ledger. Following his death, she spent a year dating Spike Jonze – not the most obvious reaction to losing one’s babydaddy, but if there’s one thing Williams is it’s totally unafraid to go against the crowd.
Michelle Williams quote:
“I have the usual self-loathing and body issues and yet I seem to be naked in a lot of movies. The nudity has to end somewhere. It would be really nice if the pictures did not get posted online. But then maybe that’s a reason to do it: Just get naked, and who cares if it ends up on the internet.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“With her near-faultless eye for excellent projects and a pleasing disregard for the likely box office performance of her films, Williams has many of the same qualities as her sometime leading man Ryan Gosling. Not for nothing did A.O. Scott describe them as ‘exemplars of New Method sincerity’.”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“So, I saw Incendiary…”
If you’ve only seen Michelle’s biggest films in recent years, check out Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York and anti-Western Meek’s Cutoff (directed by Kelly Reichardt, who also directed Williams in Wendy and Lucy). And look out for her as Glinda the Good Witch in Oz: The Great and Powerful! Now, there’s an actress who deserves to travel by bubble…
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