American actress Michelle Ingrid Williams was born in Kalispell, Montana, on September 9th, 1980. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was an author and commodities trader who unsuccessfully tried to run for the United States Senate as part of the Republican Party. Williams’ family had lived in Montana for generations before they relocated to San Diego, California, when she was nine years old. She became interested in acting after seeing a local production of a popular children’s book in her birth town.
While participating in amateur stage productions, Williams’ parents would take pre-teen Michelle to auditions in Los Angeles, managing to secure small roles in television and movies. In 1993, Michelle appeared in an episode of popular series Baywatch, and she made her film debut in the family movie Lassie. At the age of fifteen in 1995, due to her dislike of school and her wish to focus on her acting career, Williams enrolled for in-home tutoring. She also emancipated, so that child labor laws wouldn’t interfere with her career opportunities.
Williams’ big acting breakout role happened in 1998 when she was cast as one of the main characters on the teen drama television series Dawson’s Creek. The series ran for six seasons and was an instant hit, catapulting Williams and her castmates to fame, especially amongst teen audiences. During the show’s run, she also looked to play more adult-oriented roles, and appeared in an off-Broadway, black-comedy play Killer Joe and HBO’s drama film If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000).
After Dawson’s Creek ended in 2003, Williams relocated to NYC and played supporting roles in the drama The United States of Leland and the comedy-drama The Station Agent. For the latter she got nominated alongside the cast for a Screen Actors Guild Award. However, Michelle’s film breakthrough role occurred when she was cast in 2005 in the critically acclaimed movie about two gay cowboys, Brokeback Mountain, where she had a limited yet impactful role. The film went on to win three Academy Awards as well as earning her a supporting actress nomination.
Williams kept on working steadily for the following decade, appearing in well received movies and also stage productions during the following decade. Some of her most popular movies of those years were Deception (2008), Blue Valentine (2010), Shutter Island (2010), My Week with Marilyn (2011), Take This Waltz (2011), Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), and Manchester by the Sea (2016), which earned Williams another Oscar nomination.
Following her stint as Sally Bowles in Broadway’s Cabaret, Williams took on a role in another musical production, this time in the film The Greatest Showman (2017), contributing two songs to the soundtrack. Michelle’s next leading role was in Ridley Scott’s crime thriller All the Money in the World (2017). Switching up genres, Williams joined the (anti)superhero movie Venom as the main character’s love interest, which turned out to be William’s highest grossing film to date.