In the film, "My Week with Marilyn," actress Michelle Williams slinks and pouts her way through a convincing performance as troubled entertainer Marilyn Monroe. But she's not the only actress to take on portraying a complex, baggage-laden woman who publicly put on one face but privately held another.
Williams, along with Halle Berry as Dorothy Dandridge in "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" and Angela Bassett as Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do with It?" were all required to do some serious prep work to portray real life women with complex issues. Their roles weren't just about researching career projects, but emotional and physical transformations.
Williams consumed everything she could find on Monroe, watching her movies, reading books, looking at her photos, and she practiced that famous wiggle that would take her own pixie-like frame to a voluptuous bombshell. According to an interview with HeraldExtra.com, "I lived with her, and I never stopped trying to find more information…I was obsessed. "
For Angela Bassett the transformation into singer Tina Turner was as much about the physical as about getting into the head of a woman who suffered at the hands of her abusive husband, Ike Turner. A strict high-protein diet, choreography and hardcore weight training gave Bassett the physique to endure take-after-take of shimmying dance moves and the assaults of domestic violence. The result came with the bonus of well-toned arms that earned the envy of every woman who saw the film.
Halle Berry also had to learn some dance moves to portray the tragic story of actress/singer Dorothy Dandridge for the HBO biopic. In preparing for the role, she also took in every piece of information she could find on Dandridge, who died of a prescription drug overdose at the age of 42. But the real key to her character was finding the heart of Dandridge's internal sadness that haunted her ill-fated life. According to an article in the NY Daily News, Dandridge wasn't afforded the opportunities to let her star shine as bright as her talent deserved due to racial issues of the 1950s. "When Dorothy realized Hollywood had no real place for her, she looked at life through dismal eyes. She lost hope. " Berry said in an interview.
Both Angela Bassett and Halle Berry won Golden Globes for their performances in their biopics of famous ladies. We'll soon know if Michelle Williams' stellar performance gets added to the list.
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