After close to 30 years in the industry, Michelle Williams is still perfecting her craft.
The Emmy winner and four-time Oscar nominee revealed during the MoMA Contenders series panel that she takes acting classes to stay fresh between roles and retain the “technical” side of acting.
“I take acting classes. It’s not like slating my name. It’s all technical,” the “Fabelmans” Academy Award contender said. “It’s about your body and intentions and super objections. Sometimes I think it’s really just a way to calm yourself and feel like when you do show up, you deserve to be there in some way.”
Williams continued, “I think there is a technical aspect that you build, and then it stops because the second you start filming and committing things, you can’t keep building. Then you have to be in a different kind of state of mind. You build as much as you can and then that goes into another.”
Williams’ “The Fabelmans” co-star Seth Rogen added, “I marvel at watching you do this.”
Williams credited acting inspiration Julie Andrews for being “almost too good to be true” onscreen as a triple threat talent.
“The great thing about having children is you are still watching those movies,” Williams said. “I just always return to Julie Andrews. That incandescence is almost too good to be true. But she was real. I’ve got to give a shoutout to my 17-year-old who has a framed photo of Julie Andrews in her bedroom.”
Williams, whose turns in “Manchester By the Sea,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “Blue Valentine,” and “Brokeback Mountain” all garnered Oscar attention, will be honored with the 2022 Gotham Awards’ Performance Tribute. She previously addressed her approach to acting, saying, “I don’t really know what kind of an actor I am, other than someone who will try anything to achieve a desired result.”
As for playing writer-director Steven Spielberg’s mother in “The Fabelmans,” Williams formerly told IndieWire that she tries to combine portraying real people with an imaginative otherworldly-ness.
“How can I capture enough of their essence to lend the feeling and the aura that was them while still being contained in this body and face of mine? They both have scripts and plots and words, but one is like a figment of your imagination, and the other is the essence of a historical person who walked the earth,” Williams said, citing playing both Gwen Verdon and Marilyn Monroe in past works. “And all of the research that goes into that combines with your imagination of how they might behave in given circumstances. I don’t want to sound too out there, but it’s a little like trying to tap into somebody’s spirit.”