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Michelle Williams may smile again in 'My Week with Marilyn'

Posted Oct 8, 2010 3:50 PM By Gregory Ellwood

If you didn't know her personally, you might start to worry about Michelle Williams based on the movie roles she's taken over the past five years.

Since her Oscar nominated performance in "Brokeback Mountain" almost six years ago, Williams has starred in not just serious, but intense and almost painfully difficult roles since.  And granted, while she's thrived and delivered stellar performances across the board, it's also a bit disconcerting to anyone observing her career from an industry perspective.  Especially with the divorce and then tragic death of her ex-boyfriend [corrected] Heath Ledger during this time period.  Coincidentally, I just had a conversation about Williams' dour choices, which are becoming dangerously close to defining her, with a colleague before a screening of an unrelated film last night.  For the depressing evidence, let's look at the the past five years for Williams on the big screen, shall we?

"The Hawk is Dying" (2006)

Plays a young psychology student who is fascinated by a strange man who attempts to find a purpose in his life by training a a wild red-tailed hawk. The sun may never shine in this movie.

"The Hottest State" (2006)
Plays an ex-flame to a young New York actor trying to find himself in-between acting gigs across North America.  She may actually smile in this one, but is barely in it.

"I'm Not There" (2007)
A small role in the ensemble piece as an Edie Sedgwick inspired character in Cate Blanchett's "Jude" storyline. 

"Deception" (2008)

Seduces Ewan McGregor as a woman of questionable moral values in this convoluted thriller. Smile for sex sake only.

"Incendiary" aka "Blown Apart" (2008)
Plays a woman whose husband and son are killed while she's having sex with Ewan McGregor (again?).  The woman's life goes to hell.

"Synecdoche, New York" (2008)

One of many women unhappy alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in this one.

"Wendy and Lucy" (2008)
Woman loses dog. Gets arrested for shoplifting.  Desperately tries to find dog when out of jail.  Sadly realizes dog has a better life without her.  Ouch.

"Mammoth" (2009)

As a full-time emergency surgeon in New York City, Williams's character has to deal with the fact her eight-year-old daughter has a better relationship with her Filipino nanny than herself.  That hurts.

Shutter Island" (2010)

Play's the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio's character who kills herself and her kids.  Drives him crazy. (Part of the continuing line of "Why the hell do Leo DiCaprio's wives keep killing themselves?" movies).

"Blue Valentine" (2010)
A gut wrenching drama about a couple (Williams and Ryan Gosling) and the downward spiral of their marriage over a number of years.  Painfully realistic and depressing all around.

"Meek's Cutoff" (2011)

Debuting last month at the Toronto Film Festival and set for release next year, this drama centers on three families who become lost on the Oregon trail in 1845 on their way to a better life in the West.  As they try to survive on dwindling water and food rations, their paid guide (Bruce Greenwood) increasingly seems mentally incompetent.  Not a happy ending.

Now, finally, the public may seen a happier side of Williams usually reserved only for forced smiles on a red carpet.  The Weinstein Company and BBC Films announced production begins this week on "My Week with Marilyn," a new film chronicling a short excursion Marilyn Monroe made across England with an assistant, a 23-year-old Colin Clark, from the set of  her 1956 film "The Prince and the Showgirl."  

The Laurence Olivier directed romantic comedy was shot in the U.K. while Monroe was on her honeymoon with playwright Arthur Miller and "My Week" will feature a slew of historical figures around the film at the time including Kenneth Branagh as Olivier, Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormand as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as Miller.  Other intriguing cast members include "Harry Potter's" own Emma Watson, Toby Jones, Derek Jacobi and Dominic Cooper.  Eddie Redmayne, best known for playing Angelina Jolie's pouty lipped son in "The Good Shepherd," is on board to play Clark.  The film also marks the feature debut of longtime television director and producer Simon Curtis ("Return to Cranford").

One has to assume that the road trip flick will at least allow Williams to laugh and have some fun on screen.  The last time she came anywhere near a lighthearted moment was in Michael Showalter's 2005 comedy "The Baxter."  Of course, Monroe was hopelessly depressed for most of her career, but hope springs eternal this is a sign Williams may have turned the corner on the "dark" period of her own filmography.

And, as one might guess based on the cast and subject matter, "My Week" is obviously setting itself up as potential Oscar bait for the 2011 awards season. 

For those of you wondering if Williams can pull off Monroe, check out the image released today embedded in this post.  Do you think Williams has the Marilyn vibe?

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

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Select how you want to comment

  • Default-avatar
    morgan (guest)
    She was never married to Heath Ledger. Maybe you should do some fact checking before writing your article.
    October 8, 2010 at 6:36PM EST
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    • Default-avatar
      She will make a horrible marilyn is ruined already! Dougray Scott shouldn't be "acting" in anyting!!
      October 8, 2010 at 10:08PM EST
    • Default-avatar
      They didn't say she was married to him, they said he was her ex-boyfriend... BIG difference.
      October 12, 2010 at 2:45AM EST
  • Default-avatar
    withering comment (guest)
    yeah Marilyn Monroe's life was a barrel of laughs. ok, that's not really fair. but seriously, maybe michelle williams is taking those "depressing roles" because that's what she is being offered. not everyone gets to be choosy
    October 9, 2010 at 2:06AM EST
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    • Default-avatar
      The pics looks nothing like Marilyn. Marilyn's make up isn't right at all...doesn't capture her essence. Big mistake with the casting...

      October 9, 2010 at 11:22PM EST
  • Default-avatar
    Naomi is Better (guest)
    I agree with Sarah and there is no Marilyn vibe with this photo, so then why consider this movie as Oscar bait? Naomi Watts will make a beautiful Marilyn and she is a better actress.
    November 28, 2010 at 5:10AM EST
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Miley Cyrus just got really honest about the hellscape that was 'Hannah Montana'

Posted Aug 14, 2015 1:18 PM By  

Miley Cyrus got "some body dysmorphia" from her "Hannah Montana" days. Are we surprised by this? (We aren't.)

"I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show," said Cyrus in a new interview with Marie Claire. "I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?"

We should all be thankful that those soul-sucking days are over, not only for Miley's sake ("It was like Toddlers & Tiaras'," she went on) but for our own: who knew she was such an off-the-cuff, freewheeling spirit underneath those pounds and pounds of Disney pageant makeup?

A few other choice quotes from the interview:

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 2: "Every morning, I was getting coffee jammed down my throat to wake me up. I just had to keep going, be tough, be strong. Everything happened to me on that set."

On the nightmare that was "Hannah Montana," Part 3: "I would have anxiety attacks. I'd get hot flashes, feel like I was about to pass up or throw up. It would happen a lot before shows, and I'd have to cancel. Then the anxiety started coming from anxiety. I would be with my friends, thinking, I should be having so much fun. You get in this hole that seems like you're never going to be able to get out of."

On wanting to get it on with Joan Jett: "When [I] introduced Joan Jett into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I said, 'The reason I'm here tonight is because I want to fuck Joan,' everyone laughed because they thought it was a joke. It wasn't." (I believe you, Miley.)

On unrealistic beauty standards: "I'm probably never going to be the face of a traditional beauty company unless they want a weed-smoking, liberal-ass freak. But my dream was never to sell lip gloss. My dream is to save the world."

After you're finished pre-ordering your copy of Marie Claire's August issue (out August 18!), be sure to check out their damning expose on "The Coolest New Beauty Products to Have on Your Radar." ("From Louboutin lipsticks to micellar face wipes"). Marie Claire: fighting body dysmorphia one $300 bottle of Olaplex Hair Perfector at a time.

[via The Wrap]

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112 days until Star Wars: Official community manager scoffs at concept of 'gendered' armor

Posted Aug 28, 2015 12:59 PM By  

If there was one thing I thought we all agreed on when it comes to “Star Wars The Force Awakens,” it was that Gwendoline Christie is ROCKING her look as the mysterious Captain Phasma. What’s not to like about an imposing figure stalking through the halls of the First Order looking shiny and chrome?

Apparently for some, the lack of molded breasts on the armor is a sticking point. This complaint was in full effect yesterday when Star Wars put up this fantastic piece of artwork of Phasma on their Facebook page.

Almost immediately a dude was complaining that he can’t tell there’s a woman under all that metallic armor. Usually comments like this are left to the winds of the Internet, screaming into the abyss. But not this time. This time, Star Wars responded. And it was glorious.

Preach it, Star Wars community moderator. Preach.

Oh! And just a friendly reminder that boob plate armor would kill you.

[H/T: Thibaut Claudel]

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - Let's talk about the ladies:

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There is A LOT going on in this 'Suicide Squad' wrap photo

Posted Aug 28, 2015 11:58 AM By  

It’s official! “Suicide Squad” has wrapped principal photography. To celebrate, the cast and crew gathered together for one last group photo. The team was so large, it appears the photographer is up on a lift or scaffolding of some sort. And with THAT many people in one shot, there’s gonna be some interesting things going on.

How many can you spot?

 Two Harley Quinns
Two Killer Crocs
Literal Bluebeard
Someone checking their watch
The script
The code name the movie was filmed under
Literal Red tape
Someone throwing the goat
A bored flannel hipster
One guy still working
A lady with a mohawk

Image Credit: Twitter

BONUS! Cara Delevingne is wearing pants! This is a pleasant surprise as the initial character design appeared to be little more than grey body paint and a metal bikini. Huzzah!

Is "Suicide Squad" a future bomb or blockbuster?

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Did 'Fear the Walking Dead' really just kill that character?

Posted Aug 23, 2015 11:15 PM By  

Warning: Full spoilers for the premiere episode of “Fear the Walking Dead” follow…

Two of the biggest questions that audiences asked themselves ahead of the debut of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” companion series “Fear the Walking Dead” were: How will it distinguish itself from its parent series? And will “Fear” learn from “The Walking Dead”’s mistakes?

The former remains to be seen, though we did speak with “Fear the Walking Dead” showrunner Dave Erickson about his long-term plans for the series. As to the latter, there are multiple interpretations of the exact nature of “The Walking Dead”’s mistakes. The audience does tend to make their thoughts on the matter known, though. Often in the form of memes.

As one example, “The Walking Dead” has come under fire in the past for what many felt was a pattern of introducing male African American characters only to either quickly dispatch them or give the character a minimal storyline until just before they were set to die on the series. For some, it seemed as if the show would only have one central male African American character at a time.

Take a look at one of the aforementioned memes capturing this sentiment below:

I was legitimately surprised when I watched the premiere episode of “Fear” and realized that they’d introduced two young, male, African American characters -- Maestro Harrell as Matt and Keith Powers as Calvin -- only to kill Calvin off by the close of the entry and leave Matt in what appears to be imminent danger.

Read Alan's review of the "Fear the Walking Dead" premiere here

It’s a fairly stereotypical failing of the horror genre, and one that I’d thought that the “Fear the Walking Dead” team would be sensitive to. When I sat down with Erickson, I asked him if he’d thought about the potential response from viewers.

“I would start from this place,” Erickson reflected. “The show is set in Los Angles, primarily in East LA, so we wanted to make sure that the background of our characters and the ethnicity of our characters mirrored the environment they’re living in. Really with the exception of Madison (Kim Dickens) and her kids. So, it is a tricky thing, because the reality is that if you’re going to do a show that is multiethnic and diverse, and you’re doing a zombie show, then ancillary characters are going to die.

Here's how "Fear the Walking Dead" is like "Apocalypse Now"

“There have been times where there were characters that were scripted one way and then we found an actor we loved and so we cast that actor. The thing about Calvin is that Keith is such a good actor, so it’s always that thing when someone dies on the show where I would love to hold onto them because I would love to see where the character would go. I understand that it’s delicate, and I know there have been conversations about the original show. I would say this: there is nobody who is safe. I’m not thinking of anybody in particular when I say that."

“We’re going to continue to live in an urban environment for the indefinite future," the showrunner continued. "And what I don’t want to do is get into a situation where I’m casting people or writing people specifically because I’m thinking, ‘If that character dies in six episodes is it going to be…[problematic].’ I know I can’t speak for [‘The Walking Dead’ showrunner] Scott Gimple and I’m sure he’s responded to this. But we have a predominately Latino cast so I’m sure over the course of these episodes, this season, and beyond, there are going to be people of color who die, there’s going to be…Everyone is going to die. Honestly in the pilot stage I didn’t even think about it. It didn’t come up in conversation.”

I find it interesting, and in some ways fairly problematic, that the creative team didn't think about these decisions ahead of time. And that raises a few questions for discussion: Is the ethnicity of the characters something that he and the other “Fear the Walking Dead” producers should have thoughtfully considered in pre-production? Particularly in regards to the characters who will be quickly killed and therefore read as of lesser value to the story?

Now to be fair, “Fear the Walking Dead” is -- as Erickson points out -- a diverse cast and it's not yet clear who will come to the forefront as a central player. Nor can we be sure of Matt’s fate. It certainly doesn’t look good for him, though, and Calvin’s introduction and immediate death is indisputable. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as noticeable if there were a larger/more significant presence of male African American characters. Or if audiences hadn’t already been having a similar conversation about “The Walking Dead.” 

I’m not sure that getting into “outrage” mode is really helpful, here. Nor is dismissing the question as “PC nonsense.” In fact, I’m sure neither is. I can’t really stop anyone if that’s what they want to do, of course. I do think this is something that warrants examination. It's almost shocking that the "Fear the Walking Dead" producers didn't consider the implications. First, because it is by-in-large the same creative team that’s behind “The Walking Dead.” Second, the deaths of young African American men in our very real world is so much at the forefront of our cultural discourse right now. Perhaps these are two entirely separate issues.

Certainly, people are going to die on a zombie series and if – as Erickson says – it’s a diverse cast, then people of color are going to die. The very last thing anyone would want is for either of those actors to lose out on the roles. Yet, it’s hard not to notice that only two young African American male characters were introduced and one is now gone. It's subtle, but in the language of media that can say, "These characters are less important than the others." So, I suppose it does feel like some thought should be put into who dies and when - even on a zombie series.

Let me us know what you think in the comments below. Are these questions that we should ask ourselves as viewers? I certainly feel they are. Should producers also put the onus on themselves to think about the message they are delivering when it comes to the treatment of certain characters as disposable -- or not  -- in media.

Take a look at Alan and I give our initial thoughts on the series in the video below:

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