A small town girl born and raised in rural Kalispell, Montana, Michelle Williams was first known as bad girl Jen Lindley in the television series "Dawson's Creek" (1998). She appeared in the comedy film Dick (1999) which was a parody of the Watergate Scandal along with Kirsten Dunst as well as Prozac Nation (2001) with Christina Ricci. Since then, Michelle has worked her way into the world of independent films such as The Station Agent (2003), Imaginary Heroes (2004), and The Baxter (2005). But her real success happened in 2005 when she starred in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005) as Alma Beers Del Mar. A woman who realizes her husband is in love with another man. Her talent shown in Brokeback Mountain (2005) landed her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2011, she received her first lead role Academy Award nomination for Blue Valentine (2010). She followed this in 2012 with a lead role Academy Award nomination for My Week with Marilyn (2011).IMDb Mini Biography By: Matt < email@example.com>
In 1999, she was chosen as one of Teen People Magazine's "21 Hottest Stars Under 21."
Loves reading in her spare time.
Legally emancipated from her parents at age 15.
Wrote a script called "Don't Blink" which was sold but never made.
Collects rare books. Owns a first edition of The Great Gatsby amongst others.
Dated Conor Oberst. Some songs for his band, 'Bright Eyes', are about her.
In 2000, she was on Entertainment Weekly's annual It List.
At age 16, she won the Robbins Trading Company World Cup Championship of Futures Trading by turning $10,000 into $100,000. It is the second highest profit in the tournament's history.
Dated singer/songwriter Andy Herod (of "The Comas") for two years. His latest album "Conductor" is about their relationship and his heartbreak after it ended. Michelle also features in the accompanying short film of the same name.
Has one younger sister Paige and three older half siblings from her father's first marriage - Jason, Kelley, and Sara.
Her father Larry is a Commodities Trader and is divorced from her mother Carla.
In 2003, she was one of ELLE girl's 25 Favorite Hot, Young, Talented New Stars.
Her father Larry is a former Republican candidate for Montana State Senate.
First cast-member of "Dawson's Creek" (1998) to receive an Oscar nomination.
Her ex-fiancé and father of her daughter Matilda, Heath Ledger, died on January 22, 2008.
Returned to work 5 months after giving birth to her daughter Matilda to begin filming The Hottest State (2006).
Is of Norwegian decent.
Resides in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York.
Katharine Hepburn is one of her favorite actresses.
Received the Desert Palm Achievement Actress award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 7, 2012.
Outside of the business during a dry spell, I scooped ice cream at a country fair, and I ate more than I sold. Making a cone is difficult, and I lost so many scoops into the chocolate swirl.
[on working on her film Timemaster (1995)] It was so awful. We turn the 'M' upside down and called it Timewaster.
I can't watch myself [in movies]. I used to think I was cool. Now, my standpoint is that I can't be fair. So I can't pass any judgment.
[on her former partner, Heath Ledger] His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still.
For so long, I felt like a walking open wound everywhere I went. There's this Joan Didion quote about being afflicted from an early age with a presentiment of loss. Did I come into the world like that? Or was I kind of gifted that?
It's all so personal, isn't it? It's hard to talk about work without talking about things that are personal. Work is personal. I don't want to talk about my personal life, but it's on my mind, and it's in my work.
[on Heath Ledger's death in 2008] In a strange way, I miss that year, because all those possibilities that existed then are gone. It didn't seem unlikely to me that he could walk through a door or could appear from behind a bush. It was a year of very magical thinking and, in some ways, I'm sad to be moving further and further away from it.
I like to do weird things in the shower, like drink my coffee, brush my teeth and drink a smoothie. It's good time management.
I find myself saying this all the time during every movie I make, "Why is this is so hard?" And I realize yes it is. Every movie I make I find kind of excruciating. I get a lot back from it, but I feel like I'm kind of always working at the edge of my ability. I guess that's what I'm looking for when I go to work. I am trying to become the edge.
I'm a glutton for punishment! I won't let myself shrink away from a challenge. While my mind is saying, "Retreat, retreat, retreat!" my heart is already there and that's what ultimately wins.
I started acting as a child in Community Theatre but I didn't do any serious stuff. It was all musicals like Annie and Wizard of Oz. I was always in the chorus. But now I just sing lullabies. I'd really like to be part of a troupe like that again. There are enough actors living in my Brooklyn neighborhood to start one.
I love things that are old and beautiful and tell a story, even if it's a sad one.
I think [Vladimir] Nabokov once said that genius is finding the invisible link between things. And that's how I choose to see life. Everything's connected, and everything has meaning if you look for it.
I feel like something has changed for me, but it's a new change, so it's going to be hard for me to describe. Maybe it has something to do with turning 30. I don't feel as shy or nervous or self-conscious. I have more confidence that I can handle what life brings me. I don't feel scared to have an idea and express it. I feel giddy about it because it's a complete transformation. It's like I've found my voice.
[on taking on the role of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] As soon as I finished the script, I knew that I wanted to do it, and then I spent six months trying to talk myself out of it. But I always knew that I never really had a choice. I've started to believe that you get the piece of material that you were ready for.
[on preparing to play Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] I'd go to bed every night with a stack of books next to me. And I'd fall asleep to movies of her. It was like when you were a kid and you'd put a book under your pillow hoping you'd get it by osmosis.
[on trying to gain weight and preparing to play Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] Unfortunately, it went right to my face. So at some point it became a question of, Do I want my face to look like Marilyn Monroe's or my hips? ... It felt like being reborn. It felt like breaking my body and remaking it in her image, learning how she walked and talked and held her head. None of that existed in my physical memory, and I knew I needed as much time as possible to make it part of me.
[on beauty and the experience of playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] The expectation to be beautiful always makes me feel ugly because I feel like I can't live up to it. But I do remember one moment of being all suited up as Marilyn and walking from my dressing room onto the soundstage practicing my wiggle. There were three or four men gathered around a truck, and I remember seeing that they were watching me come and feeling that they were watching me go - and for the very first time I glimpsed some idea of the pleasure I could take in that kind of attention; not their pleasure but my pleasure. And I thought, Oh, maybe Marilyn felt that when she walked down the beach...it was lovely to connect with that happy, free Marilyn I knew as a little girl.
[on paparazzi and having her daughter being subjected to any of it] You feel like you're in the zoo...that's what seems the most rotten thing about it to me. And I'm going to do everything in my power to make her feel safe and protected, and to extend her childhood for as long as possible.
[on the death of her former fiancé, actor Heath Ledger] Three years ago, it felt like we didn't have anything, and now my life-our life [her and her daughter's] has kind of repaired itself. Look, it's not a perfectly operating system - there are holes and dips and electrical storms - but the basics are intact. It's changed how I see the world and how I interact on a daily basis. It's changed the parent I am. It's changed the friend I am. It's changed the kind of work that I really want to do. It's become the lens through which I see life-that it's all impermanent. For a really long time, I couldn't stop touching people's faces. I was like, 'Look at you! You move! You're here!' It all just seemed so fleeting, and I wanted to hold on to it.
[on playing "Glinda the Good Witch" in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)] I think I'd forgotten somewhere along the line that work could be fun, and this is really fun. And it's much nicer to exist in the space of a good witch who grants wishes and tries to help people than in the space of a human mess, like pretty much all the characters I play.
[on why she is drawn to stories about romantic love/relationships] - Relationships have always seemed very mysterious, and therefore worth exploring. I'm single, so it's still kind of a mystery-a worthwhile mystery, one that I want to be on the scent of. I'm not lonely, and I think that has a lot to do with what's on my bedside table rather than what's in my bed.
[on Marilyn Monroe and playing her in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] I wish that I could play her for the rest of my life. Because when can you say that you've really solved the riddle? When can you say that you really know her? Her deepest desire was to be taken seriously as an actress, but she doesn't really shine in her serious roles. Where she happens to shine is in comedy and in song and dance, but she denied that. She essentially said, 'It's not what I'm good at'. She didn't know it, but she clearly was incandescent.
I was raised on all those princess fairy tales and I'm a romantic; I want to be a one-man girl.
I often dream of quitting acting. Walking away and becoming a laundress or a sous chef or maybe writing other people's love letters for a living.
[in "Elle" magazine, talking about her short "pixie" hairstyle] What Matilda would love is for her mum to grow out the cropped hair, though that's unlikely to happen any time soon. I've really grown into it - I feel like myself with short hair. And it's been a really long time since I had long hair, five years. Of course, the only people who like it are gay men and my girlfriends. Straight men across the board are not into this hair! I cut it for the one straight man who has ever liked short hair and I wear it in memorial of somebody who really loved it.
[on playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] If I knew then what I know now about how many people have opinions about her, I don't know if I would have been brave enough to say yes to the role. I'm certainly not going to please everyone. So I only felt bound by a responsibility to her, to my relationship with her, to my imagination of her. Not to anybody else.
[on Marilyn Monroe] Contradiction is always a neat thing in any human being. And maybe it was the extremes in her that made her so irresistible, but also made her life so painful - because you can't portray those dramatics without experiencing them first.
[on advice she got from Philip Seymour Hoffman after committing to playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2011)] I've committed to this awful thing of playing Marilyn Monroe. His advice was: 'If there's even a whiff of the icon, things get much less interesting.'
I don't think things through very often - I don't project into the future about how a situation will turn out. Even the simplest things, I'm guilty of making really bad decisions a lot of the time. In my work it's a capacity that's served me well, but in my life it can be a problem.
[on developing a screen characterization] I hope I'm nowhere to be seen.
I've learned that the happiest houses are not always the cleanest houses. As a single working parent, you're always asking yourself, 'What's the most important thing right now?' I'd rather concentrate on my daughter.
I always feel there's a kind of intangible connection that happens between you and a piece of material when you read it for the very first time. So the first time I read something is always the most important time, and I make sure that I can read it in one fell soup, and I don't have to get up and interrupt the experience. And as soon as I closed the script for My Week with Marilyn (2011) I knew that it was going to be the next movie that I wanted to make and I started, basically in that same breath, I started to prepare, because I would need as long as humanly possible to make this transformation.
[on the difference between women and men directors] If it's different, it's different to me. It's about how I shall receive a man versus a woman. I've had good experiences with both sexes. I certainly enjoy that there's a healthy balance in my career of working with women. I think what Kelly Reichardt and I have going for us right now is that we've made two movies together and we're friends. So we're onto each other.
[on the film Land of Plenty (2004)] - It's funny - I have something hanging in my house that somebody asked me about the other day. They said, "What is that weird scrap of paper in the frame?" I said, "Well, I was making this cool thing, this only in New York City thing." What happened was I was making this movie and realizing that I was playing a kind of angel on earth figure, you know, a Wim Wenders kind of thing. I was thinking, thinking, thinking and then walking down the street and I stepped on this piece of paper. I picked it up and it had all the names of the angels listed on it and so I kept it with me. I said, "Ah, this is a good sign." And at the end of the movie we were up on this building looking over at where the twin towers used to be. Somebody took a Polaroid of me and Wim, and on Wim's back, angel wings appeared in the development. So I have this little piece, this little connective tissue, this little thing I remember. That movie was actually really important to me - and to you! - and to not very many other people. It was the first time that a director of such esteem and talent had seen anything interesting about me. I think it was because - and in fact he said as much - he had never seen "Dawson's Creek" (1998). He wasn't aware of the show at all, and when I drove to meet him at his house, he really met me, not work that I was good or bad in or perceptions that people had of me, positive or negative. He just met me, and from that experience he cast me. After we made the movie he saw pictures of me as Jen on "Dawson's Creek". My passport picture at the time was a picture in, like, full makeup and hair. I was on a little break and he saw the picture and he was like [German accent], "Oh, if I had seen that I don't think I would have cast you!" [laughter] But it was such a nice boost, you know? It was so encouraging to have somebody like that say yes to you. That gave me a lot of confidence when I didn't really have any. ... I had done a few independent movies before that, I can't even remember what, and was realizing all the while, oh this is good for me. Not that it's better than other ways of making movies but it's good for me, this sort of familial, calm, contained environment relaxes me and allows me to try things. It allows me space. I work better that way and so having that experience on Wim's movie set me in this kind of direction. I do see them as very linked. I see "Killer Joe", this play I did when I was 18; and "Smelling Rats", a Mike Leigh play that I did when I was 20; and doing "Land of Plenty", I see those things as being directly linked to something like Blue Valentine (2010) or My Week with Marilyn (2011) or this movie. They've all added up into this sort of later stuff.
[on being able to relate to and connect with another actor, even if that connection doesn't last past the actual filming/project] - ... It's a weird thing, the ability to make deep connections and then detach yourself three months later when the movie's over. Like it was all a phantom. You made this phantom in the space that existed between the two of you, that wasn't real and has no home. You know it's a very strange process of real and unreal. I can't quite understand it. All I know is that it's ultimately feels very real at the time, but ultimately not.
[on if the public aspect(s) of acting has gotten any easier] - Like I said about actors, I think for the most part, my experience recently has been that people are kind and respectful. In general people that I get to meet don't want to say something provocative, or they're not looking for that side of the story, so I find myself more open and more trusting that the experience is going to be an OK experience. I really do try and situate our lives in such a way that we can maintain - so that I can still do the work that supports us, the work that I like to do, but that we can maintain a kind of privacy that I find essential for having a happy and normal childhood. And that I find essential for having a creative view of the world. So in some ways it has gotten easier. But in some ways, like when I have to get my picture taken, it's nothing - I'm already right back to where I started, I'm all kind of bumbling, unsure of myself, weird, a mess. I like this much better, just having a conversation with somebody when there's not a camera. It's much easier to think when you can do this, you know, instead of when you're in some sort of, like, rigid position and you feel obliged to be a superhuman being.
[on having to do interviews and potentially dealing with uncomfortable ones] - ... It's such a funny thing to be in a position that you don't want to be in and unsure of, you know, should I just ... [mimes unhooking a microphone and getting up] It's a funny thing to be sort of sat in a chair, and there's all the people and the bright lights, and you get asked the questions, and you feel like for some reason you have to endure it, or it's sort of part of the job. Maybe if it was now, maybe I would've just taken off the mike and just taken a little break, just walked away for a minute. I don't know. I think being a girl, being a woman, there's always - I do fight with some idea of wanting to please people and wanting to be good and wanting to say the right thing and wanting to get through something. It's a very uncomfortable and hard thing to do, to draw the line or to disappoint someone, even when you're sacrificing what feels right. It's a real predicament, and I say things that I regret sometimes. I get it wrong a lot, but I'm always evaluating and always trying to get a handle on it. Because I do so want to do this work, and if this is a part of this work then I must figure out how to do it in a way that feels appropriate, but still kind of honest and not like I'm wasting time.
When I work I'm not nervous. Work is this fabulous free zone. There's no judgment. My problems arrive when I'm not working.
[on how roles come to her] It's a funny thing: do you get the roles you're meant for, is there a fate in them? I don't know. It's a bigger question of how the world works, which I don't know about yet. I wish I did. ... I'm a person who needs a lot of time. I make these movies but I've had a tremendous amount of time to prepare for them and a tremendous amount of time between projects to decompress and go back to my life. So I don't work a lot, because I have a child and a life outside of work that I'm devoted to. So when I do make a decision to work, it can't be a whim. It has to have a lot going for it.
I have very fond memories of the Ace Hotel in Portland. Yeah, that is some place where I played with my "perfect world" game. And I thought that Portland might get pretty close. Man, there is nothing like a Portland summer. But then I also realized as soon as you make a place home, you invite entanglements, and Portland seemed like a place that I would want to keep free from that. As long as I don't make it my home it stays perfection. I can miss it, I can yearn for it, I can fantasize about it and I can visit it and have the best time.
(February 2009) Living in Brooklyn, New York with her daughter, Matilda Ledger.
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