Michelle Williams talks about her role as Marilyn Monroe and more in Vogue . - Annie Leibovtiz
Since her days on "Dawson's Creek," Michelle Williams, 30, has transformed into a serious actress who's been nominated for two Oscars. And like most serious actresses, she's fiercely private, rarely talking about her family, which is centered around her daughter Matilda, who will turn 6 in October. She speaks publicly even less frequently about her relationship with Matilda's late father, Heath Ledger, who died suddenly and tragically at age 28 in 2008. But in the October issue of Vogue, she gives a particularly candid interview about her life today and about the role of a lifetime, Marilyn Monroe, which she tackles in her next movie.
Michelle admits that she struggled after Heath's death. Although she's finally moved on, the experience definitely affected her. "Three years ago, it felt like we didn't have anything, and now my life -- our life -- has kind of repaired itself," she reveals to the magazine. "[But] it's changed how I see the world and how I interact on a daily basis. It's changed the parent I am. It's changed the friend I am. It's changed the kind of work that I really want to do. It's become the lens through which I see life -- that it's all impermanent."
But the "Blue Valentine" star also says she's in a good place -- especially since reaching a milestone birthday on September 9. "I feel like something has changed for me, but it's a new change, so it's going to be hard for me to describe," Williams notes. "Maybe it has something to do with turning 30. I don't feel as shy or nervous or self-conscious. I have more confidence that I can handle what life brings me. I don't feel scared to have an idea and express it."
The actress lounges in a retro J.Crew cardigan and capris. - Annie Leibovtiz
Over the years, Williams has obviously gained confidence in her acting, too. She takes on one of the most famous women in pop culture -- and a woman whose picture was plastered all over Michelle's walls when she was growing up in San Diego -- in the upcoming film "My Week With Marilyn." The movie is about the tumultuous filming of the 1957 flick "The Prince and the Showgirl" starring Monroe and leading man/director Sir Laurence Olivier. Williams says she felt drawn to the role immediately, and spent six months preparing for it.
The 30-year-old dons a Monique Lhuillier gown and Harry Winston jewels. - Annie Leibovtiz
"I'd go to bed every night with a stack of books next to me," she says. "And I'd fall asleep to movies of her. It was like when you were a kid and you'd put a book under your pillow hoping you'd get it by osmosis."
Williams even worked with a choreographer to perfect Marilyn's walk, and gained weight so she could flaunt her signature curves. At one point, she says, she even caught a glimpse of what it was like to feel like Marilyn. "The expectation to be beautiful always makes me feel ugly because I feel like I can't live up to it," she explains. "But I do remember one moment of being all suited up as Marilyn and walking from my dressing room onto the soundstage practicing my wiggle. There were three or four men gathered around a truck, and I remember seeing that they were watching me come and feeling that they were watching me go -- and for the very first time I glimpsed some idea of the pleasure I could take in that kind of attention; not their pleasure but my pleasure. And I thought, 'Oh, maybe Marilyn felt that....'"