Michelle Williams is my idol. There, I said it. We’re both September 9th Virgos, so maybe that has something to do with it, but mostly I admire her for her exceedingly brave and interesting screen work. And her adorable pixie haircut. And quirky-cute fashion sense. You get the idea.
In her latest film Blue Valentine, which opened Dec. 30th, she gives perhaps the rawest performance of her career opposite Ryan Gosling. They play a couple whose relationship is on the brink of collapse, and we see their love story play out in both the past and present. I had the privilege of covering the press junket for the film, and got to ask Williams about a project I’ve mentioned several times on the blog - her role as Marilyn Monroe. The role is daunting to say the least – Marilyn is the iconic bombshell, after all – and Williams realizes that. When I spoke to her, she had just completed the film My Week with Marilyn about two weeks earlier and she said she still had “one foot in it.” I got the impression that the roles she takes on are generally hard for her to shake (she said she even kept her character’s wedding ring from Blue Valentine).
When asked why she decided to step into Marilyn’s shoes, she considered her answer very carefully.
“Because I am a glutton for punishment,” she said before searching for a more complete explanation. “A few things. Because for some reason I won’t let myself shrink from a challenge and I think that’s how I find myself in these situations, making these movies. While my intellect is saying ‘Retreat, retreat, retreat,’ my heart is already there. Luckily, I guess, that’s the stronger decision making mechanism and that’s what ultimately wins. I think when I read something I like to have two reactions going at the same time - one is an inkling that I can play that part and the rest is that it’s a mystery and it compels me to untangle it. So they’re kind of opposed to each other, but if they’re both up and running at the same time, that’s how I make a decision.”
From the looks of things, her heart hasn’t steered her wrong yet.