Playing complex characters is not new for actor Michelle Williams, 39. Consider her performances – Blue Valentine (2010), Shutter Island (2010), Manchester by the Sea (2016) – and The Greatest Showman (2018) most of which have gone on to be nominated for the Oscars and the Golden Globes.
Most recently, the Broadway performer won an Emmy for her portrayal of Gwen Verdon, in the biographical mini-series Fosse/Verdon that takes us into the partnership between two acclaimed Broadway personalities – director/cinematographer Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon.
What’s it like to play a person like Gwen Verdon?
From the people that I’d spoken to, I kept hearing that she was like the sunshine in the room. The way that I’ve come to think of her is someone who is always trying their hardest and will occasionally be backed up against a wall when she’s cornered. But as much as she possibly could she constantly tried to rise above and be her best.
Tell us a bit about perfecting the Fosse choreography.
I wanted to get up on the stage when I was watching them right there in that number. And as far as the angles, we’ve been really well supported in terms of the people that have been teaching us. The choreographers that we’ve worked with, who have spent so much time with both Sam and I, and who we love not just as professionals, but also as people. So, it’s a very harmonious work environment, which you feel like you can, sort of, get your best work done there.
You didn’t have formal training in dance. How has your confidence and training evolved over the years?
I danced a little bit as a kid. And then all of a sudden, the last decade, it just keeps coming up for me. It is a place that I have found an unexpected amount of joy, and so I keep wanting to return to it. So, to have had a bit of that training going into this and a little bit of vocabulary that I already knew, it has been really helpful.
Can you talk about the realtionship between Bob and Gwen?
I think of them as, sort of, like yin and yang. Light and dark, always chasing each other and shaping each other.
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