When the news hit that Oscar-nominated actress Michelle Williams, who is often regarded as one of the best actors working today, had signed on to star in the upcoming Spider-Man spin-off film, “Venom,” the general consensus amount film fans was simply “why?”
You see, Williams has always been one that has taken incredible roles, carefully curating a filmography that is one of the most respectable among leading actors today. So, why would she jump on to a franchise that seems doomed from the beginning, featuring a “hero” that bites the heads off of humans? The answer to that is complicated.
“The truth of it is it came down to Tom Hardy. He’s so talented and so committed. He also makes unusual choices in a moment-to-moment, scene-by-scene kind of way. So, I thought that he would be an exciting guy to get into the ring with. I thought it would be fun to play with him, and it really was,” Williams says, in an interview with THR.
Now, the idea of working with a star like Hardy, who is one of the more interesting performers around, seems like a good enough reason to take on any project. But, as Williams continues to explain why she chose “Venom,” or any big-budget film, for that matter, the truth begins to show itself.
The actress is not only starring in her first superhero film but also has recently been seen in the Amy Schumer comedy, “I Feel Pretty.” So, more than working with Hardy, what’s the real reason she’s choosing more four-quadrant fare?
Williams explains, “I wish there was always a clear, artistic line, but at a certain point, you have to square with the fact that you’re getting older, you live in the world and you have needs. In my twenties, I wasn’t cognizant of retirement, the housing market or college tuition; I just did whatever the fuck I wanted to do. Now, I sometimes do what I want to do, but I also have to make decisions that take care of my family. So, the decision-making is all over the place. It used to be one thing, but now it’s many things.”
Ahhhh, you see, even for an artist like Williams, “Venom” (and other big-budget work) just helps pay the bills. Now, that makes more sense. Well, maybe Williams is a closet-geek? Maybe, “Venom” helps pay the bills, but she secretly has a love of superhero films? Eh, not so much.
“The smaller movies are more me, those are the movies I like to see. If I get to see a movie, it’s probably going to be something microscopic or foreign. That’s just my taste. But, these kinds of movies open up other opportunities and possibilities in your life,” says the actress,
Williams continues, “Some people say, ‘Take one of these movies, and it’ll be even easier to make Kelly Reichardt movies.’ Kelly Reichardt had a movie that she wanted to get going this fall. I didn’t have a huge part, but I was going to be in it. She couldn’t get the funding for it, which boggles my mind. If Venom is a big hit, maybe it’ll make it easier for a filmmaker like Kelly to get her movie made. I don’t know. So, smaller movies have my heart, but bigger movies like Venom are enticing because they’re new and fun to me.”
Hey, no shade from us about that. We are all about actors and filmmakers taking big-budget work if it helps them successfully make a passion project. Taika Waititi recently did it with “Thor: Ragnarok,” and now he’s off making his Hitler/Nazi/Imaginary friend movie. So, hopefully, this works out for Williams, too.
The conversation wasn’t all money, however. When asked if #MeToo was on her mind during the filming of “Venom,” as the movement was beginning during this film’s production, Williams said, “Hugely.”
She continued, “I really wanted those thoughts to be brought out through Anne’s character in whatever ways possible. With her wardrobe, I wanted her to be in suits. If she was in a skirt, I wanted her to be in suspenders. As we’re asking for equality, I just wanted the story to have constant nods to the male-female interplay that is happening now.”
Eventually, the obvious question was asked. Since Williams has taken the dive into superhero work, would she be interested in suiting up as a hero herself? “Yes, it’d be really fun,” she admits. “This is a great place to explore feelings and stories of epic proportions. When these films are good, they can provide such a fun outlet for that, both for the actors that make them and the audiences that watch them.”
“Venom” hits theaters on October 5, and features the work of two leads with a combined five Oscar nominations. Go figure.