Actress Michelle Williams isn't afraid of a challenge, but her latest role in All the Money in the World presented a surprising one. Only a month before the film was released, director Ridley Scott replaced Kevin Spacey, after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct made against the actor, with Christopher Plummer.
Both Plummer and Williams ultimately earned Golden Globe nominations for their roles in the film, which is based on the true story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III, the grandson of the wealthy oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, and was released on time after all. Here, Williams talks about the reshoot, the surprising reason she was so excited to work with Plummer, and more.
Tell me about your new film, All the Money in the World. What is your character like?
I play Gail Getty, who was a mother of four children, one of whom was kidnapped when they were living in Rome and there was a ransom price set on his head, which would've been easy to come up with, given that his grandfather was John Paul Getty, but the man said no. And so I play a woman fighting to get her child back.
And this is based on a true story.
Did you do a lot of research?
I did, although there wasn't that much available material. There's a few clips on YouTube of her, and she has a very distinctive way of speaking that I spent a lot of time with and then I read a few books. The rest of it was really just a collaboration between the words on the page and the guy in charge, Ridley "The Boss" Scott. He and I had a ball together. It was actually like having a ball that he and I would just toss back and forth and sometimes the ball was slippery and sometimes the ball would go over my head – there would be multiples of them. He just keeps you on your toes in this really fun way. I really went to work every day thinking, "I don't know? What’s he gonna do today?" It was exciting.
How did you first read the script?
I was sent the script and told to read it within the next 12 hours and have an answer by the time I woke up in the morning, so I read it and I said yes and now here I am.
And then you have the reshoots, too.
If it was anyone else other than Ridley I would say there's no way, and it's not going to happen, but that man lives off of excitement and he works well under pressure. Look, there's no mountain I wouldn't climb for Ridley. I [gave] him my Thanksgiving day, which was a hard thing to break to the family but when you're able to tell your daughter that Captain Von Trapp is coming to save the day in real life you know they – everybody makes an exception.
I have to say, I think this is such an optimistic time. It's been so difficult to go through, ever since the election, especially to be a woman and to be raising a young woman, but I actually something has just turned around for me in like the past couple of weeks and I feel like I'm so glad to be alive right now. I feel like we're going to create a whole new landscape for a generation of young girls like my daughter that are growing up right now.
I really hope.
What is that like for you to have to go back and do a character that you said goodbye to? Because you say goodbye to these characters, right?
In some way I suppose you do, but in some way I feel all of my girls, all of my women, still sort of bubbling up inside of me. Sometimes I feel them and I'll think like, "Oh god, Marilyn came out a little bit then," and I'm like, "There she is. There's Gail still kicking around inside of me."
Did you like auditioning when you were starting out as an actress?
Man, what a nightmare. That was so rough. It was you know demoralizing. You see the same group of girls and you just feel like talk about a pack, you just travel around in this pack and it seems like nobody ever gets to break out of the pack. I auditioned for two years without getting a part. I was young, too, so at that point that was like a fifth of my life had been spent experiencing rejection, so I think that was hard to tolerate as a kid.
Did you have an audition outfit?
I had multiple outfits much like the costume box. I would change in between auditions. I remember changing in the car on the freeway and I'm still a very fast changer and I'm a discreet changer because of it. I have a talent for taking my clothes of quickly.
What was the moment you knew you made it?
I feel like I'm still waiting for it. I feel like I'm still waiting for the moment of you'll always have work and you'll always have a community and this whole thing isn't about to be sort of pulled out from underneath you. It's a funny thing to have a career or profession where, as you age, you aren't really necessarily allowed to harness all of that growth and all of that knowledge, like you're starting to understand what you do while at the same time your ability to do what you do is diminishing, so it's a very funny. It's hard to have a sense of security in a job like that.
What was your first job?
I served soft serve at the fair. I gave everybody bigger cones than should've been allowed. I thought that it would make them happy but instead they were like, "What is this? Like I can't even hold this unwieldy thing." It turns out people don't want like a ton of ice cream.
What was the first movie that you loved?
My parents were really conservative and we weren't allowed to watch very much, so The Sound of Music is the movie that I've probably seen the most in my life, because it was just about the only thing that my parents condoned that I also wanted to watch, so that was probably the most influential film that I watched growing up, and now I'm going to meet Captain Von Trapp.
Do you have a favorite song from The Sound of Music?
Maybe "Edelweiss." It's so sad at the end when they sing it like that gets it really gets to the heart of it. Now that we're gonna be in this movie together, I said to a friend of mine, "How soon is too soon to ask Christopher Plummer to sing 'Edelweiss' into my phone for my daughter?" and my friend said, "Well. maybe you should take him out to dinner first," and as soon as I told [my daughter] Matilda what was happening she said, "Can you get him to? Can we sing with him? I need to meet him immediately and will he sing with us."
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