WEIRDLAND: Michelle Williams in "Elle"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Michelle Williams in "Elle"

"I’m obsessed with water”, Williams says. “The scene in Brokeback Mountain when I open the door and see Heath and Jake kiss? Everyone was outside and I was in this hallway by myself, and I just kept thinking, I want to be like water. I want to slip through fingers, but hold up a ship.”

An open bag of Veggie Booty sits between the seats. This would belong to Matilda Rose Ledger, age two. She is named after the Roald Dahl children’s classic Matilda—a girl born of beastly parents but blessed with magical powers that make her feel as if she’s “flying past the stars on silver wings.”Dressed in black jeans, a button-down shirt, and an argyle sweater, she is boyishly slight. Her features—lips, cheeks, liquid brown eyes—are full. She has only one dimple, there on her right cheek, but what the other cheek lacks, this dimple makes up in depth. Her blond hair is short, in what she considers an awkward growing-out stage, and full of bobby pins. “Bobby pins are my favorite jewelry,” Williams says. “There's nothing sexier than bobby pins.” She gasps suddenly. “That moment in Lolita, when Humbert Humbert is driving into the cow pasture and fingering the bobby pin? Goose bumps!” Even now. Smiling, she pulls up a sleeve revealing her goose-bumped arm.

Her smiles come easily but are complicated, never carefree. “I'm always aware of the whole,” Williams says. “I have that feeling inside, like when something really tickles or delights me—it's not singular. I recognize all the awful things in the world, and in spite of them, I can still laugh.” This hyperawareness has come at a price. “For so long, I felt like a walking open wound everywhere I went,” she says. “There's this Joan Didion quote about being afflicted from an early age with a presentiment of loss. Did I come into the world like that? Or was I kind of gifted that?”Like extrasensory perception, you either have it or you don't. It's a poignant, painful, and appealing quality that cannot be acted. “Your heart just races to her,” says the director Ang Lee, who cast Williams in her Oscar-nominated role in Brokeback Mountain. “I needed that for the part of the dejected wife—the least interesting, dullest part you can imagine. But Michelle in this role—you want to know what happened in her life, clearly a tragic one. You're never told, but you want to find out.”“It was so heartbreaking to watch that not work out,” says the director Todd Haynes, calling later the same day. The couple took roles in I'm Not There, Haynes' experimental Bob Dylan biopic, with Ledger as one of six Dylan incarnates and Williams as the Edie Sedgwicky socialite Coco Rivington. “You can't fault either of them. Really, two of the most extraordinary people,” Haynes continues. “True artists, naked and stripped-down as they approach their craft. Different people with different temperatures and rhythms, exploring themselves.”

Having fun with her co-stars on the Riviera, Michelle Williams proved life goes on after the death of Heath Ledger.

Promoting her new film "Synecdoche New York", the actress laughed alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Samantha Morton.


Xenia said...

The first time I've seen Michelle was in BBM and I figured she was as dull as her character in the movie...
But I was wrong, she is a talented actress (see her character in I'm Not There, miles away from Alma) and a strong woman. I wish her and her daughter all the best.

gail said...

I love Michelle. My heart goes out to her. I know I miss Heath, so she must still be in mourning. Such a lady.

Kendra said...

Yes, Michelle has proved us all her strength and vitality recovering of her terrible loss.
She was deservedly nominated to her Oscar (her performance felt real, sincere) and she's a very classy woman, a role model on her own.