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November 10, 2008

Michelle Williams, not adrift


Michelle Williams, whatever her political leanings, showed some sympathy this weekend for a certain recently-defeated Republican presidential nominee.

Without specifically mentioning events of the past few years in her life like the Oscar nomination for "Brokeback Mountain" or the sudden death of former partner Heath Ledger, Williams said she had a tough time keeping herself grounded before deciding to star in the indie flick, "Wendy and Lucy," which screened at the AFI fest Saturday night.

"I lost my way," the actress said during a question-and-answer session following the movie. "My career changed, and I didn't know how to keep myself in the midst of everything. I felt like John McCain."

She agreed to do the movie, which shot in 18 days on a micro-miniscule budget of $175,000, in part because it would allow her to escape the glare of the spotlight.

"It was an anti-risk film for me," she said. "It allowed me to work in a way that I didn't feel like people were watching me, leering and judging."


Williams did want to stick her neck out in the movie's final scene, in which the way-down-on-her-luck character hops a train out of a small Oregon town. She wanted to really hop a speeding train.

"I thought it would be like 'The Journey of Natty Gann,'" Williams said.

Writer/director Kelly Reichardt and, perhaps more important, underwriters nixed the idea, even with Williams offering to pay the insurance herself because she wanted the realism and, maybe, the challenge.

"Wendy and Lucy," which has been on the festival circuit (Cannes and Toronto included), is based on a short story from Reichardt's writing partner Jonathan Raymond about a woman driving from Indiana to Alaska with her floppy-eared dog to look for work in a cannery.

Wendy's lot in life, which seemingly wasn't so good to start with, devolves further when she's arrested for shoplifting, Lucy ends up in the pound, and the car implodes. Imagine what all that does to her paltry cross country travel budget. Not a carefree road trip film, this, but one filled with the character's quiet determination.

Reichardt, also at Saturday's screening, said the movie's intended to explore people living on the economic edge in America and others' responsibility and/or willingness to help those in need. (Wendy meets a kindly security guard who lends a cellphone and a couple bucks).

Her direction for Williams was to be "very still and buttoned down."

Williams took the advice, and the result is a restrained but emotion-filled performance that drives a heartbreaking story. It opens in New York and L.A. in December.


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she's definitely grown a lot over in the past few years as an actress. I loved her heart-wrenching performance in Brokeback Mountain, it made me pity her even though I was rooting for Ennis and Jack Twist.


I think Michelle was terrible in Deception, Incendiary and I'm Not There (all which I saw recently) and she should obviously avoid roles that require her to be a 'femme fatale', or even 'sexy', because she is totally out of her depth in those kind of roles. She's good at playing a 'victim' and maybe also 'light' comedy roles, but in my opinion she does not have much of a range as an actress and most of the time is just not believable. I am yet to see this film though, but I think it suits her narrow acting range so I am sure I'll enjoy the film.


I thought "Incendiary" and "Deception" were very well acted. Shitty scenario and poor directing was what that made these films bad.

And Lucinda you give a vibe of jealous hater. Judging by your name you are a girl- you think you are in position to say she was sexy or not? Me as a man i say she was superhot in "Deception".

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

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  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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