Are you looking, Lindsay Lohan? This is how you do Marilyn Monroe. THIS.
But let me preface this interview by saying that it’s not pretty. Or rather, Michelle Williams is either the tortured, overly-fragile spectre of a human being that she appears to pretty much everyone, or she’s a damned fine actress. This intro, for example:
I meet with Michelle Williams on three days in two different cities over a bit more than a week. Much does not go as either of us expects. On the first day, we mainly talk about her youth, and I make her cry. On the second, we mainly talk about her becoming Marilyn Monroe. This is the only dry-eyed meeting. (Unless—quite possible—I was too insensitive to notice.) On the third, we mainly talk about her life with, and without, Heath Ledger. At the end of the third day, we walk around a park in the dark. At the end of the second day, we tidy up the leftovers of her daughter’s birthday cupcakes. At the end of the first day, she leaves in tears, her parting words: “That was really awful.”
So, OK. She’s got reason to be emotional. The interviewer brings up the touchy subject of Heath Ledger (of course) while still trying to maintain a sex kitten vibe to both the photo shoot and the interview. I mean, I might be a little thrown, too.
From GQ, Michelle Williams on embracing the “darkness”:
“Maybe when I was in my early twenties and my late teens, I was more prone to sitting in it or lacerating myself with it. Now I want to move out of it. I have a daughter. I want a happy life.”
On admitting that she had to go into therapy after her parents saw her nude in a play:
“Oh God. Wow. I mean, I must have said that twelve years ago, before I learned to shut my mouth. Wow. All right, I can take it. I’m 31—I can take it. … They weren’t fans of that play. It was like [an] alien invasion or something in our normal lives where there weren’t artists—they hadn’t seen anything like it.”
On how interviewing stresses her out:
[Crying openly] “Boy, I get to do Ellen now… I can’t wait… I’m in a fantastic mood… oh, what did I get myself into?… I wasn’t expecting this. I thought I’d gotten so good at this recently. I’m like, ‘Ah, I can do this.’ Goddammit, I thought I’d gotten better at it. I’m not leaving because I’m crying … there are people waiting. But it feels like a terrible ending. That was really awful.” [Sort of laughing at this point.]
On avoiding sexy, and wanting sexy back:
“I wouldn’t say that that would be one of my first qualities as a human being—being sexy, and I think because my character on Dawson’s Creek was sexy … sexualized … sexual … I saw all the negative attention and connotations that can come along with that. And that those things can keep people from seeing you clearly. I really wanted to do that [play non-sexy roles]. When you play sexy you’re kind of playing just for men. That is something you have to police and turn it on its head. … It’s funny spending your twenties running away from it, and then you hit your thirties…wait a second! Come back! I want that time back when I didn’t appreciate what I had! That kind of ripe sexuality, when you hit your thirties you feel more in possession of it, you feel it’s not something that can be sort of taken away from you and reassembled.”
On considering stopping her work after Heath died and how she tried to recover from the news:
“That seemed like a really smart idea. You just want to be able to walk out of your house and turn your face to the sun and stumble down a corner where you have some memory, and you’re not really allowed any of that. It was making me crazy. I felt like I was going crazy. It was too much—trying to deal with what had happened and trying to deal with what was at our doorstep. I just felt trapped. And it’s not just me—there’s somebody else who I’m trying to protect, and I can’t. I can’t make it stop, I can’t make it go away. Trying to find ways to explain it or shield her from it. It’s like you’re trying to go about your life, and make dinner…but the roof is off of your house, and the walls are falling down. … Moments that were strung like beads on a thread … and they were very far apart from each other. I mean, it sounds so silly, but a just-right cup of tea. I spent a lot of time taking baths. A lot of tea and baths—double warm.”
On whether she thought at one point that she and Heath would have ended up getting back together and staying together:
“That would make me way too sad to answer. No, I said it would make me too sad to answer but it’s also…”—and she nods even as her voice breaks once more with tears—”…one of my favorite things to imagine. It’s actually one of my favorite places to visit.”
So, alright. I change my original waffling to “holy God, this poor, awesome, amazing, talented, under-appreciated woman.” Honestly, that sounds about right, doesn’t it?