Michelle Williams Biography
Michelle Ingrid Williams born in September 9, 1980 is an American actress. She first achieved recognition for her role as Jen Lindley on The WB television teen drama, Dawson's Creek, from 1998 to 2003. Williams later graduated to full-length features, including Prozac Nation (2001), Brokeback Mountain (2005), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as I'm Not There (2007), Shutter Island (2010) and Blue Valentine (2010), for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Williams was born in Kalispell, Montana, the daughter of Carla Ingrid (née Swenson), a homemaker, and Larry Richard Williams, a stock and commodities trader. When Williams was nine, her family moved to San Diego, California, and, at an early age, she became interested in acting. At age 15, faced with her parents' disapproval, she emancipated herself from them. After completing the ninth grade at the Upper School of Santa Fe Christian Schools, in Solana Beach, California, she left school in order to pursue her acting career in Dawson's Creek.
In 1997, she won the Robbins World Cup Trading Championship, as her father had done 10 years earlier. She won after turning $10,000 into $110,000 over the course of a year and that gain (as of 2006) is the fourth highest in the history of that competition (her father has the highest)
Williams's career began in television, appearing in programs such as the 1990s version of Lassie, Baywatch, Step by Step, and Home Improvement. Her first film role was in the motion picture Species. Soon after, she won additional roles, including the Jessica Lange-Michelle Pfeiffer film A Thousand Acres and the 1998 movie Halloween H20: 20 Years Later with Jamie Lee Curtis and Josh Hartnett. Williams' star profile rose considerably when, in 1997, she was cast as one of the lead characters on the WB show Dawson's Creek. She would play Jen Lindley for all six seasons of the successful show.
During and after the show's run, Williams appeared in several films. Her first starring role was as Arlene in the film Dick, a satire of the Watergate scandal, opposite Kirsten Dunst. She starred opposite Christina Ricci in Prozac Nation, and also appeared in the HBO film If These Walls Could Talk 2, and several acclaimed indie pictures such as The United States of Leland, Me Without You, and Imaginary Heroes. For her performance in The Station Agent, Williams, along with the rest of the cast, received a Screen Actors Guild award nomination for Best Acting Ensemble. The following year, Williams starred in independent features Land of Plenty and A Hole in One. In 2005, critics and audiences took note of Williams' performance in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. For that performance she won a Critic's Choice Award and received Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2006 she appeared in The Hawk Is Dying with Paul Giamatti. In 2007, she was in Ethan Hawke's The Hottest State and in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There with Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Julianne Moore. In 2008, she starred with Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman in the Marcel Langenegger film, Deception.
It has been noted that Williams has "repeatedly taken chances on under-the-radar indies" such as The Station Agent and The Hawk Is Dying, "while catching the attention of auteurs like Wim Wenders (Land of Plenty), Todd Haynes (I'm Not There); and Martin Scorsese"; the Scorsese movie being Shutter Island, which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo.
Along with the Scorsese film, she shot four other films in succession. Independent filmmaker Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy was shown on September 27 and 28, 2008, at the New York Film Festival and opened on December 10, 2008. Williams was highly acclaimed, with some claiming the performance was her best yet. She is one of a "vivid ensemble cast orbiting around Philip Seymour Hoffman's harried theater director" in Synecdoche, New York, the first film directed by Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation.
Two other films include director Lukas Moodysson's Mammoth with Gael García Bernal; and Incendiary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Williams recently said that she is "going to take a year off" as she "stopped feeling creative a little while ago, and ... [is] just realizing it now," and is also "feeling the strain of being a working single mom" and the untimely death of her former fiance, Heath Ledger.
In 2009, Williams was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Williams next starred with Ryan Gosling in the romance film Blue Valentine, for which she received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress.
Williams met Heath Ledger on the set of the film Brokeback Mountain, in which they played husband and wife. During their time together, they lived in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York. Williams was engaged to Ledger and gave birth to their daughter, Matilda Rose Ledger, on October 28, 2005, in New York City. Matilda's godfather is Jake Gyllenhaal, Williams's co-star in Brokeback Mountain, while Matilda's godmother is Busy Philipps, Williams's co-star on Dawson's Creek
Williams "reads bedtime stories to Matilda ... in whatever accent she's practicing — east London for 'Incendiary,' Boston for 'Shutter Island' — but has had a hard time balancing the immersive demands of acting and the consuming duties of motherhood" and "The bleakness of some of the roles has also taken a toll". Williams "still finds herself reacting to the tabloid intrusions" of celebrity stardom "with bewilderment" and finds it difficult to "negotiate a gulf between private self and public image" and the phenomenon of celebrity 'a bit of an isolating problem to have'". Williams is "an avid reader who favors poetry over novels while filming so she's not distracted by competing narratives" and who would like "to pick up a skill" like embroidery during her yearlong sabbatical from filming
In a December 2008 interview with L.A. Weekly, Williams spoke about taking time off to be a full-time single mother and the support she has found in what she refers to as "coffee-shop parents" and "single-mom parents". Williams said, "I’m not quite ready to give up working, but I don’t know how to do the good balance of it. That’s the challenge, to live in the chaos."
Williams dated director Spike Jonze. The pair came out as a couple in July 2008. In September 2009, Williams confirmed the pair had split.
Death of Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment on January 22, 2008, from what was later determined to be an accidental overdose of a combination of prescription drugs. Williams's publicist released her first public statement about his death on February 1, 2008: "Please respect our need to grieve privately. My heart is broken. I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. 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. She will be brought up with the best memories of him".
In early February 2008, Williams flew from New York City first to Los Angeles and then to Perth, to attend memorial and funeral services, including a wake in Cottesloe, Western Australia.