Michelle Williams: Snapshot

Michelle Williams
Date of Birth
September 09, 1980
Birth Place
Kalispell, Mont.
The critically acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain changed Michelle Williams' life. Not only did she garner arguably the best reviews of her career as the wife of a cowboy in love with man, but she also fell for costar Heath Ledger. Soon afterward, they welcomed their daughter Matilda and sparkled at the Academy Awards with a pair of his-'n-her Oscar nominations. But on Jan. 22, 2008, only four months after their surprise split, Ledger, 28, died of an accidental overdose.

Before Brokeback, Williams played Jen Lindley for six seasons on the WB's Dawson Creek. When the series ended in 2003, she built a reputable resume with smaller films, like The United States of Leland and The Station Agent.

After returning to the spotlight, Williams earned her second Oscar nomination – this time for Best Actress – for her heartbreaking turn in 2010's Blue Valentine, and won a Golden Globe award and Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in 2011's My Week with Marilyn. In 2014, the actress made her Broadway debut in a revival of Cabaret.

Michelle Williams: Video

People Video

The young actress has already developed a cool, downtown sense of style that works from the streets of N.Y.C. to the Oscars red carpet (02:00)

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Michelle Williams: Five Fun Facts

  1. During her days on Dawson's Creek, Michelle Williams' costar Joshua Jackson would reprimand her for smoking. "He's constantly flicking cigarettes out of my hand, stomping on them and hitting me," she told PEOPLE. "It drives me crazy".
  2. After making her film debut in 1994's Lassie, Michelle Williams' classmates at Santa Fe Christian High School barked at her and asked if she played the role of the dog.
  3. Director Ang Lee, who hadn't seen Dawson's Creek, admitted that if he knew Michelle Williams' TV work, he wouldn't have considered her for Brokeback Mountain.
  4. Michelle Williams began falling for Heath Ledger during an early scene in Brokeback Mountain, where they crashed while tobogganing down a hill. Williams tore a ligament in her knee, an injury Ledger blamed on himself. "I felt I always had to look after her after that," Ledger told Rolling Stone.
  5. The Sound of Music made a lasting impression on Michelle Williams as a kid. "I thought that all acting required singing," she told PEOPLE.

Michelle Williams: Biography


Michelle Williams

July 22

Independent Darling

At 14, Williams makes her feature debut in Lassie (pictured with costar Thomas Guiry). By 15, the budding actress graduates high school, is legally emancipated from her parents (to avoid California's child-labor laws) and moves to Burbank on her own. Of acting, Williams tells PEOPLE, "There's never really been anything else."


Michelle Williams

January 20

Heading to Capeside

Williams, 17, plays the girl with a past, Jen Lindley, on the WB teen drama Dawson's Creek. "She's this stable, happy-go-lucky girl still wrestling with demons," Williams tells USA Today of her character. "She grew up quickly at a real fast pace. Of course, I can relate to it." The show becomes a hit with the WB crowd, making household names of its four stars, including Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, and James Van Der Beek.

Michelle Williams

August 05

Oh, the Horror!

With Jamie Lee Curtis and Josh Hartnett (left), Williams stars in the horror sequel Halloween H20. "I was worried about being a good screamer," Williams tells PEOPLE. Curtis says of Williams, "She's a very deep well of a human being. There's a lot that's not on the surface." The following year, she costars with Kirsten Dunst in the Richard Nixon-era comedy Dick, and makes her Off-Broadway debut in Killer Joe.

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Photo Credits

Top Left: James McCauley/REX

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Everett Collection; Everett Collection

Edited by Julia Wang

Michelle Williams

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