There are plenty of superlatives to dole out in Hollywood. Meryl Streepis the most decorated actress of our time, with 20 total Academy Award nominations. Emma Stonewas 2017’s highest-paid actress of 2017, earning a whopping $26 million. Selena Gomezis the most-followed person on Instagram.
But other qualifiers are harder to measure. Like the most talented or the hardest-working or the funniest. But the best at making something out of nothing? Well that honor goes unequivocally to one Michelle Williams.
Let’s talk about Michelle for a second. Her story is well-known by now but it’s worth repeating if for nothing other than its sheer ability to inspire. She started as a child actress, doing parts in shows like Step by Step and Home Improvement. Her breakthrough role came in 1998 with Dawson’s Creek, but she cemented herself as a true movie star when she played opposite Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Very little is known about her personal life beyond that fact, which (probably by design) allows her work to do all the talking. And talk it does.
You see, while Williams may not bring home the big flashy paychecks or open huge blockbusters, she has low-key become an insanely successful actress. And what’s even more impressive is that her many accomplishments come with the all-too-familiar-in-this-industry fact that the roles she’s given are often, well, crappy.
Because more often than not, Michelle Williams is playing someone’s wife. Or someone’s mother. Or a wife and a mother. While her male costars get to be complicated, multi-faceted characters with ugly flaws and redeeming narrative arcs, she’s the wife. And the mother.
Michelle Williams was there too, except she got approximately 1/10 of the screen time and pretty much existed to try and make Affleck’s character feel better even though she lost all three of her children, too. Many people believed that she was the best part about the movie, taking her tiny role and running with it, especially during that particularly gutting monologue. (You know the one). She was rewarded for her efforts with an Oscar nomination and a front-row seat at the ceremony with which to witness the most embarrassing Best Picture flub in history up close.
She also stars in The Greatest Showman, otherwise known as Zac Efron’s triumphant return to onscreen musical theater. Not to spoil the plot of the circus story or anything, but Williams takes on the role of P.T. Barnum’s (a.k.a. Hugh Jackman‘s) wife. To be completely fair, the movie isn’t really supposed to be about Barnum’s personal life—it focuses on his invention of the circus as we know it today and his relationship with his employees. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Williams’ entire role is basically just her reminding Hugh Jackman how great his family is (because he’s so obsessed with wealth and status that he keeps forgetting).
But in what we’re now going to officially refer to as “Williamsing,” she took that crappy part and worked a miracle, and now she is part of yet another Golden Globe-nominated movie. We would keep a tally of how many times she’s been able to do this, but that would make us too upset.