If you didn’t know her personally, you might start to worry about Michelle Williams based on the movie roles she’s taken over the past five years.
Since her Oscar nominated performance in “Brokeback Mountain” almost six years ago, Williams has starred in not just serious, but intense and almost painfully difficult roles since. And granted, while she’s thrived and delivered stellar performances across the board, it’s also a bit disconcerting to anyone observing her career from an industry perspective. Especially with the divorce and then tragic death of her ex-boyfriend [corrected] Heath Ledger during this time period. Coincidentally, I just had a conversation about Williams’ dour choices, which are becoming dangerously close to defining her, with a colleague before a screening of an unrelated film last night. For the depressing evidence, let’s look at the the past five years for Williams on the big screen, shall we?
“The Hawk is Dying” (2006)
Plays a young psychology student who is fascinated by a strange man who attempts to find a purpose in his life by training a a wild red-tailed hawk. The sun may never shine in this movie.
“The Hottest State” (2006)
Plays an ex-flame to a young New York actor trying to find himself in-between acting gigs across North America. She may actually smile in this one, but is barely in it.
“I’m Not There” (2007)
A small role in the ensemble piece as an Edie Sedgwick inspired character in Cate Blanchett’s “Jude” storyline.
Seduces Ewan McGregor as a woman of questionable moral values in this convoluted thriller. Smile for sex sake only.
“Incendiary” aka “Blown Apart” (2008)
Plays a woman whose husband and son are killed while she’s having sex with Ewan McGregor (again?). The woman’s life goes to hell.
“Synecdoche, New York” (2008)
One of many women unhappy alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in this one.
“Wendy and Lucy” (2008)
Woman loses dog. Gets arrested for shoplifting. Desperately tries to find dog when out of jail. Sadly realizes dog has a better life without her. Ouch.
As a full-time emergency surgeon in New York City, Williams’s character has to deal with the fact her eight-year-old daughter has a better relationship with her Filipino nanny than herself. That hurts.
Shutter Island” (2010)
Play’s the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character who kills herself and her kids. Drives him crazy. (Part of the continuing line of “Why the hell do Leo DiCaprio’s wives keep killing themselves?” movies).
“Blue Valentine” (2010)
A gut wrenching drama about a couple (Williams and Ryan Gosling) and the downward spiral of their marriage over a number of years. Painfully realistic and depressing all around.
“Meek’s Cutoff” (2011)
Debuting last month at the Toronto Film Festival and set for release next year, this drama centers on three families who become lost on the Oregon trail in 1845 on their way to a better life in the West. As they try to survive on dwindling water and food rations, their paid guide (Bruce Greenwood) increasingly seems mentally incompetent. Not a happy ending.
Now, finally, the public may seen a happier side of Williams usually reserved only for forced smiles on a red carpet. The Weinstein Company and BBC Films announced production begins this week on “My Week with Marilyn,” a new film chronicling a short excursion Marilyn Monroe made across England with an assistant, a 23-year-old Colin Clark, from the set of her 1956 film “The Prince and the Showgirl.”
The Laurence Olivier directed romantic comedy was shot in the U.K. while Monroe was on her honeymoon with playwright Arthur Miller and “My Week” will feature a slew of historical figures around the film at the time including Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormand as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as Miller. Other intriguing cast members include “Harry Potter’s” own Emma Watson, Toby Jones, Derek Jacobi and Dominic Cooper. Eddie Redmayne, best known for playing Angelina Jolie’s pouty lipped son in “The Good Shepherd,” is on board to play Clark. The film also marks the feature debut of longtime television director and producer Simon Curtis (“Return to Cranford”).
One has to assume that the road trip flick will at least allow Williams to laugh and have some fun on screen. The last time she came anywhere near a lighthearted moment was in Michael Showalter’s 2005 comedy “The Baxter.” Of course, Monroe was hopelessly depressed for most of her career, but hope springs eternal this is a sign Williams may have turned the corner on the “dark” period of her own filmography.
And, as one might guess based on the cast and subject matter, “My Week” is obviously setting itself up as potential Oscar bait for the 2011 awards season.
For those of you wondering if Williams can pull off Monroe, check out the image released today embedded in this post. Do you think Williams has the Marilyn vibe?
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