Have you ever associated an actor so closely with a role they have played that you no longer separate them as a person from them as that character? I am afraid to say that I have done this with Michelle Williams and her character as Jen Lindley on, of all things, “Dawson’s Creek.” I was never a huge “Dawson’s” fan myself, but aspiring Dunce 5 sure was, during a crucial period in our relationship’s development, and so I was subjected to massive Joey/Pacey/Dawson angsty love triangulation and have heard Paula Cole not want to wait for her life to be over more than any straight/sane man should.
I never liked Jen. She seemed shallow, and kind of whiny. And I swear to you, if she would have had one more heart to heart life lesson with Grams, I would have puked!
But that was a character. And she played it well. But she is an actor. That was not her, and that is not the only role she has ever played (have you seen Blue Valentine? Whoa!).
This all came home to me when I read an interview with Michelle the other day. She said some very not shallow, and actually quite thoughtful, profound, real, human things. And I was touched.
Describing a recent epiphany she explained:
“I often dream of quitting acting. Walking away and becoming a laundress or a sous chef, or maybe writing other people’s love letters for a living.”
Haven’t we all felt this way? I felt this was especially profound, coming from an actress. Doing what I do, sure, sometimes I want to give it up and try something else, but in my mind, it’s usually something more creative, like teaching or writing or acting. But hearing that an actor feels precisely the same way sometimes, it makes me wonder if it’s so much what you’re doing or more just a state of being. Doing anything creates things you aren’t doing, and even if you left to do any one of those things, all those still other things would remain other things you are still not doing. And you will always wonder. I did find the concept of writing other people’s love letters just about the loveliest thing imaginable.
Later in the article she proclaimed:
Clearly, I don’t like to be in charge…And thinking of quitting is just keeping going in disguise.
Isn’t this profound? I don’t like to be in charge either; in fact, it is one of the things I like least about being an adult. And the idea that thinking of quitting, itself a decision, is really just “keeping going in disguise,” like a decision not to decide. Brilliant!
Finally, she said:
When you have options, anything is bearable. It’s when a situation is inescapable that it becomes hell. It seems to me that as soon as you get good at something, it is a sure sign that it is about to walk out of your life because it ceases to hold your mind and creative energy hostage.
I think this is intensely true, but will not expand, as I know I couldn’t say it any better.
Michelle Williams has been through some tough times recently. Maybe that has helped me consider her “human” side. But I was very pleased to read this article and realize that, no matter what you do do, there are always a million things you don’t do. I thought the things she said exhibit character and insight that I had not even considered. I know we all do this to actors/celebrities to some extent, but I have never been proven so fundamentally wrong on this point.
And I’m glad it happened.
I’m sorry, Michelle. I think you’re GREAT!