AKA Michelle Ingrid Williams
Birthplace: Kalispell, MT
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Jen Lindley on Dawson's Creek
Michelle Williams was born in a small Montana town, but her family moved to California when she was three years old, settling in Solana Beach, just north of San Diego. Her mother took her to a play when she was in third grade, and the child was enraptured. "That's what I want to do with the rest of my life", she told her mother. She attended a private, Christian school and took her first acting lessons at the nearby Christian Youth Theater, appearing on stage in Annie and The Sound of Music. By seventh grade, she had an agent, and appeared in an episode of Baywatch.
At 14 she was in her first feature film, the 1994 remake of Lassie, and at 15 she was a frequent commuter to work and auditions in Hollywood. When she landed a regular role on the situation comedy Raising Caines with Judge Reinhold as her father, Williams and her mother agreed that she was mature enough to live on her own. She filed court papers for early emancipation and settled into an apartment in Burbank, where her mother was a frequent presence on weekends. Seven episodes of Raising Caines were filmed, but NBC had so little confidence in it, the project was cancelled before any episodes aired.
The cancellation hardly mattered, as Williams was working frequently in commercials, other sitcoms, and movies. She morphed into Natasha Henstridge in Species, and played Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter in A Thousand Acres, before she was hired to play Jen Lindley, the troubled girl from the big-city on the high school soap opera Dawson's Creek with Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, and James Van Der Beek.
During and after that series, she has worked steadily in better quality if lower box-office films. She met Richard M. Nixon in Dick with Kirsten Dunst, played Christina Ricci's alienated roommate in Prozac Nation, and ran away from a dysfunctional family in Imaginary Heroes with Sigourney Weaver. In The Station Agent with Peter Dinklage she played the librarian who had the hots for the dwarf, and in Brokeback Mountain she figured out what "fishing trips" are about. She was Oscar-nominated for Brokeback Mountain, and fell for its leading man, Heath Ledger, who became the father of her daughter.
Amidst the buzz surrounding Brokeback Mountain, Jim Hopson, the headmaster of Williams' alma mater, Santa Fe Christian School in Solana Beach, wanted to make sure moviegoers knew God would not approve. "Michelle doesn't represent the values of this institution", he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We would not approve of her movies and TV shows. We'd not like to be tied to Brokeback Mountain. ... Brokeback Mountain basically promotes a lifestyle we don't promote. It's not the word of God."
With friends and fellow actresses Amy Danles and Megahn Perry, Williams wrote a screenplay titled Don't Blink, which was sold to a small studio in 1999 and has languished in pre-development ever since. It is unlikely that Williams will appear in any Dawson's Creek reunions, as her character died of "an abnormality in her heart" in the final episode. She is not related to another famous Michelle Williams, of the rock trio Destiny's Child.
Her father, Larry Williams, is a commodities trader and the author of How I Made a Million Dollars Trading Commodities. He was the Republican candidate for US Senate in Montana in 1982, and lost to Democrat John Melcher by a substantial margin. He is now in Australia, battling extradition to the U.S., where he faces charges for $1.5-million in tax evasion, and has complained that his daughter and granddaughter did not receive enough of Ledger's estate.
Father: Larry Williams (commodities trader, b. 1944)
Mother: Carla Williams (office worker at Christian Community Theater, b. 1956)
Sister: Paige Williams (theater worker, b. 1984)
Sister: Kelley (half-sister)
Sister: Sara (half-sister)
Brother: Jason (half-brother)
Boyfriend: Donal Ward (actor, great-grandson of Ring Lardner, b. 1964)
Boyfriend: Conor Oberst (singer-songwriter, Bright Eyes)
Boyfriend: Morgan J. Freeman (film director, b. 1969, dated 2000)
Boyfriend: Andy Herrod (singer-songwriter of The Comas)
Boyfriend: Heath Ledger (actor, cohabited and engaged 2005-07, one daughter)
Daughter: Matilda Rose Ledger (b. 28-Oct-2005, with Ledger)
Boyfriend: Jason Segel (actor, together 2011-)
High School: Santa Fe Christian School, Solana Beach, CA (home and correspondence schooled after 9th grade)
Golden Globe 2012, Best Actress for My Week With Marilyn
Emancipated Minor (age 15)
Dawson's Creek Jen Lindley (1998-2003)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Certain Women (24-Jan-2016)
Manchester by the Sea (23-Jan-2016)
Oz the Great and Powerful (14-Feb-2013)
My Week with Marilyn (9-Oct-2011) · Marilyn Monroe
Take This Waltz (10-Sep-2011) · Margot
Meek's Cutoff (5-Sep-2010) · Emily Tetherow
Shutter Island (13-Feb-2010) · Dolores
Blue Valentine (24-Jan-2010) · Cindy
Synecdoche, New York (23-May-2008) · Claire Keen
Wendy and Lucy (22-May-2008) · Wendy
Incendiary (20-Jan-2008) · Young Mother
I'm Not There (3-Sep-2007)
The Hottest State (2-Sep-2006)
The Hawk Is Dying (21-Jan-2006) · Betty
Brokeback Mountain (2-Sep-2005) · Alma
The Baxter (24-Apr-2005) · Cecil Mills
Imaginary Heroes (14-Sep-2004) · Penny Travis
Land of Plenty (9-Sep-2004) · Lana
The Station Agent (26-Jan-2003)
The United States of Leland (18-Jan-2003)
Me Without You (23-Nov-2001) · Holly
Prozac Nation (8-Sep-2001) · Ruby
Perfume (26-Jan-2001) · Halley
If These Walls Could Talk 2 (5-Mar-2000)
But I'm a Cheerleader (12-Sep-1999)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (27-Jul-1998) · Molly
A Thousand Acres (19-Sep-1997)
Killing Mr. Griffin (7-Apr-1997)
Species (7-Jul-1995) · Young Sil
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