Michelle Williams: ‘Young Actors Have Hard Childhoods’
Michelle Williams has opened up about the downsides of being a child actor in an interview alongside Natalie Portman.
The pair sat down together for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, with their start in the industry the topic of much discussion. Both started acting around age 11 and more than 20 years later, they are two of the most talented and well respected actresses in Hollywood.
But Williams, 36, told the publication that growing up in the spotlight was more than a little difficult.
“It turned out all right. But it isn’t a life that I would want necessarily,” she said. “It was really hard when I started out, and the bottom of absolutely every barrel.
“It’s a really long way, and not necessarily a very nice one. It’s a hard childhood to have – or lack of a childhood to have. (But) I do love doing it, and I can’t really imagine doing anything else.”
Both Williams and Portman are mothers too – Williams to 11-year-old daughter Matilda and Portman to 5-year-old son Aleph and expecting her second child. And their own experiences as child actors has made each star much more protective when they work with minors on projects.
“When I see kids on the set, or when I work with kids in movies, I feel really torn about their role there,” Williams said. “I feel an extra protectiveness and also a desire to be like, ‘So, do you have any other interests?'”
Portman, 35, added: “Yes, and we end up doing that (working with children) a lot, too – more than men – because so many female parts are moms. I feel like I always work with a kid.”
Despite their remarks, neither Williams nor Portman would change the way they started in the business. Jackie star Portman admitted that her family weren’t sure about her decision to be an actress when she first announced it, so it took her some time to fully embrace her chosen career.
“I feel that there is something around that time where you do have an instinct about what you really love. I don’t know where it came from, because there’s no one in my family who was ever a performer,” Portman said. “My dad pulled me aside when I was 25 and was like, ‘I think it’s time for you to go to law school or grad school.’ Not that he was saying that acting was bad, but more that he was like, ‘I think you’ll be more fulfilled if you have something more – like a life of the mind.’
“So it took me a while, coming from that background, to be like, ‘This is what I want, and this is what I love. I enjoy this.'”