Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of spending about 45-minutes on the telephone with Michelle Williams, who is not only one of America’s finest actresses — and, at 30, will probably remain one of them for decades to come — but who is also a deeply intelligent woman; a devoted single mother; and a real survivor. (She’s also not bad on the eyes!)
Williams became a star at the tender age of 17 on the hit TV show “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003) — I remember when it happened because I’m about the same age as her and often tuned in. She proved that she had the acting chops to match her looks in a number of early films, but especially “Brokeback Mountain” (2005), for which she received a best supporting actress Oscar nod. She attracted the interest of the tabloids when she first began dating her “Brokeback” co-star Heath Ledger, with whom she would eventually have a daughter, Matilda — and again in early 2008, when Ledger died suddenly. After a period of mourning and seclusion, Williams reemerged in a series of roles that brought her widespread acclaim — from the bare-bones indie “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) to the eccentric ensemble piece “Synecdoche, New York” (2008) to the Martin Scorsese-mystery “Shutter Island” (2010) — and, before long, she’ll be seen portraying another movie star who died far too young, Marilyn Monroe, in a biopic entitled “My Week with Marilyn.” Things have never looked better for her in terms of her career, but she’s not ruling out the possibility that she might wake up one day, decide that she’s had enough of it all, and call it quits. There’s more to life than being a movie star, she has learned.
Over the course of our conversation — a full transcript of which follows — Williams and I discussed virtually all of the above. We focused particularly, however, on the pinnacle achievement of her career up to this point: her remarkable performance in Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” (The Weinstein Company, 12/31, NC-17, trailer), a gritty, honest, adult drama about the complexities of a relationship. (To me, at least, it’s somewhat reminiscent of a play and film that preceded it by half a century, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”) To play the part of a woman who falls in — and, six years later, out of — love with the same man (Ryan Gosling), a lot was asked of Williams — extensive emotional and physical nakedness, a quick weight gain, and even some tap-dancing — and, as anyone who has seen the film can attest, she certainly rose to the occasion.
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