Michelle Williams Opens Up to ELLE About Tabloids, Boundaries, and Her Latest Role

by Kristen Heinzinger
Michelle Williams

Photography: Terry Tsiolis

Michelle Williams has landed another cover this winter, fronting ELLE’s January Shopping issue in a cozy (and pant-less!) look: a sweater by Michael Kors Collection and Cartier earrings, styled by Samira Nasr. The actress has made a major return to the silver screen with an Oscar-worthy performance in Manchester By The Sea, where she plays estranged wife to Casey Affleck’s character, Lee Chandler. The story centers on Chandler’s return home to take care of his deceased brother’s 16-year-old son (tearjerker alert). She sat down with ELLE to discuss her latest role, setting boundaries, her new confidence, Broadway, and more. Scoop up a copy when the issue hits newsstands on December 13.

Dealing with tabloids…
“If you feel like people are watching you, it’s impossible to have an authentic experience of being alive. There’s a performative aspect and a guardedness, and that’s just death. I don’t know how to live like that, and I don’t know how to give a life to my child like that.” 

Learning to set boundaries for herself…
“It’s not naturally my inclination to be a boundary draw-er. I’m like, ‘Open up all the doors and the windows and let everybody in.’ That’s the aim of my work, too. It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve been in an interview. But I have better boundaries now. I feel less susceptible to emotional wreck-diving to come up with explanations for everything.”

The inspiration for her performance in Manchester by the Sea
“Everybody talks about the silences in movies and how interesting they are but it’s a lot easier than connecting beat to beat, line to line, inside of a scene in real time in front of a thousand people. But when I went to make [Manchester by the Sea], I felt a little bit more freedom, more access inside of myself.”

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