Interview : Michelle Williams


Clint meets Jen from The Creek!

Having grown up in the spotlight, as one of the stars on the WB’s memorable teen-drama “Dawson’s Creek”, actress Michelle Williams is use to the incessant camera flash and the tacky tabloid headlines. It was a relief, she says, to discover the Australian media were a lot less bloodthirsty and obtrusive than Hollywood’s finest. CLINT MORRIS reports.

“Everyone has been so nice and respectful, and nobodies out for anything salacious”, the pretty blonde actress, in Australia to promote her latest film, says.

Unfortunately, the press here haven’t been treating husband Heath Ledger as good, she says.

Well, one local outlet in particular hasn’t been anyway.

“[This one newspaper]. They’re turning into like Who or OK [magazine]. They’ve been really tough on Heath, and he takes it personally. They’ve been tossing out this stuff about him being a spitter (reports say he had spat at journalists), and it’s just so mean, and it really hurts his feelings. He’s not that way at all. It’s not true. The only spitter in our house is Matilda”.

Yep, baby Matilda, Williams and Ledger’s beautiful new bub. Williams is really enjoying being a new mother – but says it’s exhausting.

Unfortunately, “Heath doesn’t have breasts” so he doesn’t get up at night as often as Michelle. “There’s only one person she wants”.

The actress met husband Ledger on the set of their latest film, Brokeback Mountain, in which she plays the wife of a man having a secret affair with another male. The film served as a bit of a trip back home for Williams, who had lived in Montana until she was “about 8 or 9”.

“Well, I didn’t really get to go back home per say – because the film was shot in Canada – but I did get to take a road trip through Montana and Wyoming. It was really special. I saw where my grandparents lived, before they died, and I also walked around the streets. It was a very strange, but stirring, homecoming”.

When Williams told her mother that the cast were being taught how to speak in an accent, her mother bit back “What accent?”. There is one though, says Williams, it’s just “slight, it’s not like a Southern drawl, or it’s not like Fargo or anything. There’s long A’s that you hit really hard – Heath hears it.”

“Brokeback Mountain” might seem like a departure for director Ang lee, who’s famous for his action-packed Crouching Tiger Hidden, Dragon, but Williams believes all his films have similar themes. “They touch on family and isolation, relationships…but it’s amazing what he can do. I mean, a film about two gay ranch hands in the rockies? Very far from where he grew up”.

Williams says Lee helped the cast perfect their characters significantly before filming began (“We laid down so much ground work before hand so that you feel comfortable”) and it really helped unleash a performance. Her character, Alma Del Mar, is a very baffled, very fraught woman. “She’s choking on all the things she can say”, she says.

Her character wasn’t the only one that events got to. Williams says both Heath and herself had difficultly coming down from some of the more emotional scenes in the film. “I remember, after doing that scene in the kitchen, we were having tea and a glass of wine, and we just had to talk. [But] Just to talk about what happened – really helps”.

Williams will next be seen in “The Hawk is Dying”, with acclaimed actor Paul Giamatti. “That was wild, that Paul Giamatti is just a ferociously talented man – it’s frightening. He’s a force of nature. He’s so good, but you just can’t resent him for it”, she laughs. “It’s a wild story about this man whose deepest desire is to tame a wild hawk. I play a grad student that befriends him”.

Whatever happens after that, it’ll only be something that speaks to Williams, she explains. “Besides Dawson’s Creek, everything I’ve done has been for love”, the actress, whose other credits include “Prozac Nation” and “Imaginary Heroes”, says. “There’s a little sign in this café that we go to that says ‘Work is Love Invisible’. That’s what I do. I do what I love”.