Michelle Williams keeps notebooks about each of her characters

Michelle Williams also keeps an iPad full of archival material when she’s playing real people.

Michelle Williams starts a new notebook about her character at the beginning of each project.

The Fabelmans star revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that she likes to keep a notebook for each of her characters to help her stay “connected” to them during a shoot.

“For every movie that I do, I always keep a notebook,” she explained. “It’s the same notebook, and every woman gets a new one. It’s like my little briefcase that I take to work with me every day, just a place that I can keep going to and keep connected to.”

In addition to the notebook, Williams also uses an iPad filled with archival materials when she plays real people, such as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn or actress/dancer Gwen Verdon in the TV miniseries Fosse/Verdon.

“With Marilyn and Gwen, having played people who walked, who were, I’ve figured out a concise way for me to work is to have everything gathered on an iPad, so that I have a touchstone and something I can keep returning to that’s coherent and linear, and can contain videos and photos and audio,” she continued.

Williams was given a dossier of material on Mitzi Fabelman, a stand-in for Steven Spielberg’s mother Leah Adler, for the director’s semi-autobiographical movie, The Fabelmans, and she used the resource to get her performance as close as possible to Adler.

“To recreate something exactly might not be as interesting as it is to gather the essence and see how that moves you and how that works through these given circumstances – this dialogue, this interaction with other characters and other actors,” she added. “So it’s as close as it can be, but it also isn’t a documentary.”

The Fabelmans is in cinemas now.

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