Michelle Williams has revealed in a rare candid interview her plans to study Judaism and raise her youngest children in the Jewish faith.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, the Oscar-nominated actress, 42, who shares two-year-old son Hart and a newborn with Jewish husband Thomas Kail, revealed she has chosen a synagogue for her young family.
The star, who is also mother to daughter Matilda, 17, from her relationship with the late Heath Ledger, said: “I can’t teach it [Judaism] to them unless I learn first’ – before detailing her memories of growing up in San Diego with Jewish neighbors.
She said: “I loved being in their homes – a lot of it is those early memories of the discourse around the tables and the deep sense of belonging that tradition fosters. It’s always been something I was drawn to, something that felt immediately exciting and deep and very different from the tinsel and cheer.
“I say this as someone who also sings Christmas carols to my child before they go to bed. I love both.’
Michelle plays a Jewish mother inspired by Steven Spielberg’s mother in his new semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans.
She prepared for the role by listening to the director’s memories of his mother, Leah, and recordings of her voice.
She said: “I think I felt like it was his mother and I trusted him – if he felt like I was the person to play that role, I wanted to believe.
‘She was and still is a larger than life spirit.’
The star revealed she broke down in tears while filming, saying: “I cried so much they thought something happened in my private life. I mourned that I would not meet this woman again.’
Williams said she loves playing mothers on screen and working with children, saying, “I almost can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a mother, so I think at that point it was.” simply woven into the fabric of my being. I love having access to this magical portal that is childhood.’
Spielberg added, “She felt more like my mother than anyone I could have imagined, and that’s the only consideration in a story that’s more personal to me than any story I’ve ever brought to the cinema.”
The film is based on Steven’s own parents and their eventual divorce.
After screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Steven said of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “This film is a way of bringing my mom and dad back.
“And it’s also brought me closer to my sisters than I ever thought possible. It was worth making the film for that.”
The director’s mother, Leah, died in 2017 at the age of 97, while his father died in 2020 at the age of 103.
The film’s log line reads, “Growing up in post-war Arizona, a young man named Sammy Fabelman uncovers a harrowing family secret and explores how the power of film can help him discover the truth.”
It was written by Steven and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.
The film is produced by three-time Oscar nominee Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven and Tony.
During the strip, Gabriel stars as 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker Sammy, the four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams as his artistic mother Mitzi, Paul Dano as his successful academic father Burt, Seth Rogen as Bennie Loewy, Burt’s best friend and honorary uncle the Fabelman children and Oscar nominee Judd Hirsch as Mitzi’s uncle Boris.
The ensemble cast includes Oscar-nominated Jeannie Berlin as Sammy’s paternal grandmother; Hadassah Fabelman; Julia Butters as Sammy’s sister Reggie; Robin Bartlett as Sammy’s maternal grandmother Tina Schildkraut and Keeley Karsten as Sammy’s sister Natalie.
The Fabelmans is in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from 27 January 2023.