9 September 1980, Kalispell, Montana, USA
Michelle Ingrid Williams
5' 4" (1.63 m)
Michelle Williams, a small town girl born and raised in rural Kalispell Montana, had numerous small movie and TV parts before scoring a regular part in the popular teen series "Dawson's Creek" (1998).
Michelle Williams was first known as bad girl Jen Lindley in the television series "Dawson's Creek" (1998). She appeared in the comedy 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 Oscar nomination for Blue Valentine (2010). She followed this in 2012 with a lead role Oscar nomination for My Week with Marilyn (2011).
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 the age of 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.
Was roommates with Christina Ricci whilst filming Prozac Nation (2001) with her.
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.
Michelle and her fiancé, Heath Ledger, had a girl, Matilda Ledger, on October 28, 2005 in Brooklyn, New York.
The godparents of her daughter Matilda are Jake Gyllenhaal and Busy Philipps (her "Dawson's Creek" (1998) co-star).
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.
Was in a relationship with Heath Ledger, having met on the set of Brokeback Mountain (2005) (June 2004-September 2007). They were both nominated for Oscars for their performances in the film.
Her ex-fiancé and father of her daughter Matilda, Heath Ledger, died on January 22, 2008.
Was in a relationship with Spike Jonze, having met on the set of Where the Wild Things Are (2009) (July 2008-September 2009).
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.
(Of 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 Hoffmann after committing to playing Marilyn Monroe in "My Week with Marilyn"] 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.
Where Are They Now
(February 2009) Living in Brooklyn, New York with her daughter, Matilda Ledger.