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Woman of the Week: Michelle Williams

With four Oscar nominations to her name, this is our woman of the week...

This week, it was revealed that Michelle Williams, star of Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn and Manchester by the Sea, was paid over a thousand times less than Mark Wahlberg for reshoots of Ridley Scott’s latest film, All The Money In The World. But how did the Oscar-winning actress come to be so firmly in the public eye?

Early career

Woman of the Week: Michelle Williams

Born in Montana, Williams made her film debut in Lassie, and very on to take guest television roles in sitcoms such as Step by Step and Home Improvement. After relocating in Los Angeles at the age of 16, Williams featured in films alongside Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer, before landing a starring role in Dawson’s Creek at 18.

Alongside Katie Holmes, Williams led the cast for six seasons, and starred in a Halloween sequel upon the series’ end. Other films followed, as did a stint on an Off-Broadway play called Killer Joe – a form she revisited in 2004 for a production of Anton Chekhov’s drama The Cherry Orchard, alongside Jessica Chastain. 

Brokeback Mountain

Woman of the Week: Michelle Williams

Williams’ widespread acclaim came with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, where she played the wife of Heath Ledger’s character. This role was the first that would garner Williams an Academy Award nomination, and propelled her into superstardom. 

Following years saw Williams tackle roles opposite Ewan McGregor in Deception and Incendiary. She also starred in Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York. Perhaps her most chilling role came in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, where she played the dead wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character.

These high profile roles, however, were overshadowed by a tour de force performance in indie drama Blue Valentine, where Williams starred alongside Ryan Gosling in a role that gained her yet another Academy Award nomination.

My Week With Marilyn

Woman of the Week: Michelle Williams

Perhaps Williams’ most iconic performance to date was – ironically – playing another famous movie star. Marilyn Monroe was brought to life once more by Williams in My Week With Marilyn, opposite Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh. She won the role over Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams, and this success continued with roles in Take this Waltz and Oz the Great and Powerful.

In 2014, Williams took on the role of Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of Cabaret, where she stayed for the best part of a year, before leaving to play a French villager in a World War Two film called Suite Francaise, Gina Lewis in Certain Women and, eventually, a mourning wife in Manchester by the Sea, for which she was again nominated for an Oscar.

In 2017...

Woman of the Week: Michelle Williams

Last year saw Williams busy. She co-starred in the musical film The Greatest Showman alongside Hugh Jackman, in which she sang several numbers. She also had a lead role in Todd Hayne’s drama Wonderstruck. But possibly her most important role was in All the Money in the World, where she played the wife of John Paul Getty Jr. and the mother of John Paul Getty III.

Further Reading