Michelle Williams Defends Jeremy Strong Amid Method Acting Debate, Applauds His Ability to ‘Play’
Michelle Williams doesn’t define her Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated, and critically acclaimed acting ability as Method.
“I don’t really know what kind of an actor I am, other than someone who will try anything to achieve a desired results,” Williams told Variety in a cover story.
Method, the technique famously used by actors like Daniel Day-Lewis and Al Pacino, has recently been debated due to its, some say, co-opted current nature. With Jared Leto infamously refusing to break character during MCU installment “Morbius” to use the bathroom (he attempted to walk with crutches, and eventually was pushed in a wheelchair by crew members to relieve himself), fellow stars like Mads Mikkelsen, Jon Bernthal, and Will Poulter have slammed the modern, highly publicized iteration of the practice.
A December 2021 New Yorker profile of “Succession” Emmy winner Jeremy Strong continued to fuel the debate. Strong’s requests to be tear-gassed while filming “Trial of the Chicago 7,” among other painful endeavors, quickly made headlines.
“I think that unfortunately the word ‘method’ has become a buzzy one because of what happened to Jeremy Strong when he tried to describe his process,” Williams, Strong’s longtime friend, explained to Variety. “He takes his work as seriously as he takes his play.”
Williams explained that after former partner Heath Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2008, Strong moved into her Brooklyn home and played an integral role in helping Williams and Ledger’s daughter Matilda cope with her grief.
“Jeremy was serious enough to hold the weight of a child’s broken heart and sensitive enough to understand how to approach [her] through play and games and silliness,” Williams said. “[Matilda] didn’t grow up with her father but she grew up with her Jeremy and we were changed by his ability to play as though his life depended on it, because hers did.”
Per Variety, Williams said it was difficult to read the New Yorker profile on Strong and made her even more aware of what she shares about her own acting process on record.
“I feel open and I feel very trusting, but I also know that there are things that I shouldn’t talk about because they are too private and they are too hard,” Williams said. “But now when I’m rambling on about my work or my process, I wonder if that should stay in the vault.”
The “Showing Up” star continued, “But I also love Jeremy so much. So even though this period took place during the time that I don’t talk about, I wanted to share it, because it takes a very special person to play with a child the way that Jeremy did…We’ve all been in awe of his talent. We’ve watched him work harder than anyone and wait a long time for other people to recognize it. So when he became so celebrated, we all celebrated.”
“Trial of the Chicago 7” director Aaron Sorkin criticized the New Yorker profile for presenting “a distorted picture of Jeremy [Strong] that asks us to roll our eyes at his acting process.”
Sorkin wrote a letter uploaded to Twitter saying that over the course of 20 years of knowing Strong, he stands by the star’s “passionate” practices.
“The profile that came out on him was incredibly one-sided,” Sorkin penned. “Don’t believe everything you read folks. Snark sells but maybe it’s time we move beyond it.”
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