Michelle Ingrid Williams is an American actress. She is particularly known for her work in small-scale independent productions with dark or tragic themes. The recipient of several accolades, including a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award, Williams has been nominated for four Academy Awards and one Tony Award.
Born to the politician and trader Larry R. Williams, she was raised in Kalispell, Montana, and San Diego, California. She began her career at a young age with television guest appearances and made her feature film debut in the family film Lassie (1994). At 15, she gained emancipation from her parents, and soon achieved public recognition for her leading role in the television teen drama series Dawson's Creek (1998–2003). This was followed by low-profile films, before her breakthrough role in the romantic drama Brokeback Mountain (2005), in which her performance as the wife of a gay man earned Williams her first Academy Award nomination.
Williams went on to gain critical acclaim for playing emotionally troubled women coping with loss or loneliness in the independent dramas Wendy and Lucy (2008), Blue Valentine (2010), and Manchester by the Sea (2016). For portraying Marilyn Monroe in the drama My Week with Marilyn (2011) and Gwen Verdon in the miniseries Fosse/Verdon (2019), she won a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award, respectively. Williams' highest-grossing releases came with the thriller Shutter Island (2010), the fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), the musical The Greatest Showman (2017), and the superhero film Venom (2018). On Broadway, Williams has starred in revivals of the musical Cabaret in 2014 and the drama Blackbird in 2016. For playing a sexually abused woman in Blackbird, she received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
Despite significant media attention, Williams is reticent about her personal life. She has a daughter from her relationship with the late actor Heath Ledger, and she is separated from the musician Phil Elverum, whom she married in 2018.