Michelle Ingrid Williams (born September 9, 1980 in Kalispell, Montana) is an American actress who first rose to fame in the late '90s playing bad girl Jen Lindley on the hit series Dawson's Creek. After the show ended, she jumped to the silver screen with roles in such films as Dick, Prozac Nation, and The Station Agent, and also gained critical acclaim for several independent films before taking the role that would establish her as an A-list talent, the long-suffering Alma Beers in 2005's Brokeback Mountain.
On the set of Brokeback Mountain, she met and began dating Australian actor Heath Ledger, and a year later Williams gave birth to a daughter, Matilda Rose Ledger. The couple stayed together until 2007, separating amicably. After Ledger's death in 2008, Williams withdrew from public life for a time, but did have a starring role in the poorly-received Swedish film Mammoth.
In 2010, Williams returned to the screen with a critically acclaimed lead role in the romantic drama Blue Valentine, and also appeared in the Leonardo DiCaprio thriller Shutter Island. 2011 saw her take the title role of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, and her performance drew extensive praise and award nominations. In 2013 she played the good witch Glinda in Sam Raimi's Oz the Great and Powerful opposite James Franco and Mila Kunis.
In 2019 she played actor and dancer Gwen Verdon in the miniseries Fosse/Verdon. The following year she married Fosse/Verdon director Thomas Kail, with whom she has two children.
- Baywatch (1993-1994) as Bridget Bowers / Hobie's Groupie
- Lassie (1994) as April Porter
- Step by Step (1994) as J.J.
- Home Improvement (1995) as Jessica Lutz
- Species (1995) as Young Sil
- Dawson's Creek (1998-2003) as Jennifer "Jen" Lindley
- Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) as Molly Cartwell
- Dick (1999) as Arlene Lorenzo
- But I'm a Cheerleader (1999) as Kimberly
- The Station Agent (2003) as Emily
- The Baxter (2005) as Cecil Mills
- Brokeback Mountain (2005) as Alma Beers
- I'm Not There (2007) as Coco Rivington
- Synecdoche, New York (2008) as Claire Keen
- Mammoth (2009) as Ellen Vidales
- Blue Valentine (2010) as Cindy Heller
- Shutter Island (2010) as Dolores Chanal
- Meek's Cutoff (2010) as Emily Tetherow
- My Week with Marilyn (2011) as Marilyn Monroe
- Cougar Town (2013) as Laurie's foster sister (uncredited)
- Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) as Glinda the Good / Annie
- Cabaret (2014): Sally Bowles
- Suite Française (2015) as Lucile Angellier
- Manchester by the Sea (2016) as Randi Chandler
- The Greatest Showman (2017) as Charity Hallett-Barnum
- All the Money in the World (2017) as Gail Harris
- Sony's Spider-Man Universe as Anne Weying
- Fosse/Verdon (2019) as Gwen Verdon
- The Fabelmans (2022) as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman
Tropes and Trivia related to her work:
- Ability over Appearance:
- Creator Backlash:
- She doesn't look back too fondly on Species, due to all the teasing she got at school for playing an alien who turns into a giant cocoon.
- She also doesn't look back too fondly on her first film Timemaster, having called it "Timewaster" on set.
- Dawson Casting:
- Doing It for the Art: She was offered a large pay bump to redo her scenes opposite J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World but insisted on the standard day player's salary. Unfortunately, controversy erupted when Mark Wahlberg wasn't so principled.
- Dyeing for Your Art: She gained weight for My Week with Marilyn, as Marilyn Monroe would be Hollywood Pudgy by today's standards.
- Fake Brit: She pulls off a very good southern RP English accent as Holly in Me Without You. Michelle and her co-star Anna Friel (who really is a Brit, originally from near Manchester), were both faking RP (standard British) accents; the director commented that Williams' accent was actually better than Friel's!
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Usually with her roles; the characters she plays tend to act more feminine the longer their hair is. This stands out more in her case as she had long hair for most of her tenure on Dawson's Creek, but cut it short while dating Ledger and found that he loved how she looked with short hair. She's mostly kept it short since his death.
- Nipple and Dimed: She isn't exactly shy about partial nudity, but has toned it down since becoming a mother.
- Playing Against Type: She's been quite broad in her choice of parts, but one example would be that two of her more well-known roles (Dawson's Creek and Blue Valentine) cast her as emotionally damaged women who had issues with sex. Then she turns around and plays the sweet, pure as the driven snow Glinda the Good...
- Production Posse: She has been in three Kelly Reichardt films: Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff and Certain Women.
- Romance on the Set:
- She was cast as Heath Ledger's wife in Brokeback Mountain, then they started dating during filming.
- She worked with Spike Jonze on Synecdoche, New York and they dated for a year.
- She's currently married to Thomas Kail, who directed her on Fosse/Verdon shortly before it was announced she was engaged to him & pregnant.
- So My Kids Can Watch: The thing she loved most about her roles in Oz the Great and Powerful and The Greatest Showman was being able to take her daughter Matilda to see them, as they were a departure from Williams' usual fare of heavy adult dramas.
- What Could Have Been:
- She wrote a script called "Don't Blink" that she sold but never got made.
- She was the first choice for Evanora in Oz the Great and Powerful, but opted to play Glinda instead.
- She was one of the contenders for Daisy in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, and she owns a rare first edition of the book. The role went to Carey Mulligan.