Date of Birth: September 9, 1980
This pouty-lipped Kalispell, Montana native caught the acting bug at age eight while attending a play with her parents. Gaining her first experience at age nine in community theater productions, the wide-eyed little theater buff was immediately intrigued by the idea of being on stage and she soon started taking acting lessons.
At 10, she moved to San Diego with her parents and younger sister. Continuing with roles in community theater, she was soon making the trek to Los Angeles for auditions. Her screen debut came in the '94 remake of Lassie when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman. Two years later she became legally emancipated from her parents so she could move to Burbank in pursuit of further acting opportunities. In 1995, her second role, as the younger version of the predatory alien played by Natasha Henstridge in Species, was small but memorable. In A Thousand Acres (1996), she played Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter in a critically successful story about the breakup of a modern American farming family.
However, Michelle is perhaps best known for her role as city girl Jennifer Lindley on the television show Dawson's Creek. The teen drama, penned by macabre-minded screenwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer), was steeped in controversy even before its first episode aired in January 1998. Starring with James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes, the show was an instant hit (becoming the WB's highest rated show) and afforded each of the stars bigger and better offers.
For Michelle, it was a chance to star opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween H20 (1998), the much anticipated sequel to John Carpenter's Halloween. Though the film opened to poor reviews, it earned a strong box office performance and paved the way for her to star in future films, including 1999's Dick. The film, which looks at the Watergate scandal from the point of view of two teenage girls (played by Michelle and Kirsten Dunst), provided Williams with a chance to expand her range beyond the constraints of her Dawson's character. That same year, she starred opposite Natasha Lyonne in the comedy But I'm A Cheerleader, an independent feature about gay and lesbian rehabilitation.
When Dawson's Creek's long run ended in 2003, Michelle had more time to concentrate on her film career and she now works steadily in features such as the critically-acclaimed indie film The Station Agent (2003) with Patricia Clarkson and The United States of Leland (2004) starring Kevin Spacey. Filming Brokeback Mountain (2005) was a particularly life-changing experience for Michelle; she fell in love with Heath Ledger, who played her husband in the film, and afterwards they had a child together. As well, she received her first Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Unfortunately for their child, the relationship did not last and Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in 2008.
In 2011, she received her second Golden Globe and Academy award nominations, this time for Blue Valentine (2010). Although she didn't win, she did pick up a San Francisco Film Critics Circle as Best Actress for her work in the movie. Her next film, Take This Waltz (2011) earned her a Genie Award nomination for Best Actress. She won an award in the same category from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. In 2012, Michelle won her first Golden Globe for her work in My Week with Marilyn (2011), as well as picking up her third Academy Award nomination plus a BAFTA nomination.
The talented actress could then be seen in the drama Certain Women (2016) alongside Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern and in the crime drama Manchester by the Sea (2016) starring Casey Affleck.
For her work in the latter, she received numerous nominations for Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role, including nominations from the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Golden Globe Awards and the SAG Awards.
In 2017, Michelle starred in the film Wonderstruck (2017), as well as in The Greatest Showman (2017) with Hugh Jackman and All the Money in the World (2017) with Kevin Spacey. Most recently, she returned to theaters in the superhero film Venom (2018) opposite Tom Hardy.
Williams was rumored to be dating director Spike Jonze in 2008, and then actor Jason Segel in 2012. She has most recently been linked to author Jonathan Safran Foer.
I Feel Pretty (2018)
The Greatest Showman (2017)
All the Money in the World (2017)
Certain Women (2016)
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Suite Française (2014)
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Take This Waltz (2011)
Blue Valentine (2010)
Meek’s Cutoff (2010)
Shutter Island (2009)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Wendy and Lucy (2008)
I’m Not There (2007)
The Hottest State (2006)
The Hawk Is Dying (2006)
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The Baxter (2005)
Imaginary Heroes (2004)
Land of Plenty (2004)
A Hole in One (2004)
The United States of Leland (2003)
The Station Agent (2003)
Me Without You (2001)
Prozac Nation (2001)
But I’m a Cheerleader (2000)
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
A Thousand Acres (1997)