Winning the Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for her role as Gwen Verdon in Amazon Prime’s Fosse/Verdon, the 39-year-old made international headlines with her impassioned speech on women’s rights.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “To choose when to have my children, and with whom.”
“I am grateful to live in a moment in our society where choice exists, because as girls and women, things can happen to our bodies that are not our choice,” she added.
Williams, who is pregnant with her second child to fiancé Thomas Kail, is already a mother to Matilda, 14, her daughter with late Australian actor Heath Ledger.
During her speech, she touched on her life — one which has largely played out in the public eye.
“I’ve tried my very best to live a life of my own making, not just a series of events that happened to me, but one that I could stand back and look at and recognise my handwriting all over, sometimes messy and scrawling, sometimes careful and precise, but one that I carved with my own hand.”
But this isn’t the first time that The Greatest Showman actor has impressed us, nor will it be the last. In fact, Williams has been impressing us since her breakout role as teen rebel Jen Lindley on Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003), a role which made her a household name.
While it was a sensation at the time, Williams has continued to prove time and time again that she isn’t just a one-trick pony. Dawson’s Creek was just the first of many roles which would bring her success, with her most recent Golden Globe win becoming her twenty-second accolade.
During an episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd in October 2019, Williams’ best friend (and former co-star on Dawson’s Creek) Busy Philipps, told the host that her friend would probably “be really excited” that Shepherd didn’t realise she’d been on the cult teen show.
“She certainly transcended any baggage that [show] came with,” Shepherd pointed out — and he couldn’t be more right.
“I think that all of the young actors who achieved a very high level of fame at that period in time — in the 90s, early 2000s — I think they had very distinct, clear choice to make,” Philipps explained.
The choice Phillips was referring to, was doing “that big teen horror movie” and then taking the blockbuster money. And while Michelle had done Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Philipps explained: “She didn’t like it”.
“It didn’t feel good to her,” she said. “She didn’t like it. So, she just really quietly was like, ‘I’m going to do Williamstown Theatre Festival, I’m going to move to New York and I’m going to get in with the indie film community in New York,'” she said.
“She really smartly used the amount of money that she was making on Dawson’s Creek to survive and build herself as an artist and her resumé. It’s really admirable what she’s accomplished.”
At the time of writing, Williams has racked up a whopping thirty-one nominations, including for her roles in My Week with Marilyn (where she portrayed the tormented Marilyn Monroe), Manchester by the Sea, Brokeback Mountain (where she met Ledger), Blue Valentine, Cabaret and Shutter Island (with Leonardo DiCaprio).
“I always like to do things I haven’t done before — genres, parts. I like a challenge.”
During the same interview, which was conducted in mid-2018, Williams spoke about pay disparities in the industry — namely referring to the fact that she was getting at least USD $1,000 less than her co-star Mark Whalberg for reshoots for the film, All The Money In the World.
In fact, she had asked that she and Vanity Fair journalist, Amanda Fortini, speak about it during the conversation.
“You feel totally de-valued,” she told Fortini when she was asked whether she was enraged to learn of the money Wahlberg received.
“Like everyone else, she read it in the paper,” Fortini wrote.
“But that also chimes in with pretty much every other experience you’ve had in your workplace, so you just learn to swallow it,” Williams said.
And then, speaking about Dawson’s Creek she admitted that while having a steady gig was great, “I didn’t have the thing I most wanted, which was respect and a good sense of myself — I wasn’t viewed as an artist.”
Nowadays Williams is one of the best talents of our generation. Not only is she a talented character actor, but is a triple threat who can also sing and dance.
She has a rare strength in Hollywood, mostly because she is mostly famous only for her craft.
She’s a notoriously private person (she doesn’t use a public social media account), and whenever she speaks, it’s with deliberate poise and grace.
If you re-watch her speech during the Golden Globes, Williams did not falter and we were gripped with every word. When Michelle Williams speaks, you listen.
And that is what makes her stand-out.