Thank you, Gwen Verdon. If Michelle Williams finally wins her first industry peer-group award for her heart-tugging turn in FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” it will be thanks to her portrayal of that sassy, high-kicking Broadway legend who bagged multiple Tony Awards for her stage roles in “Damn Yankees,” “Can-Can” and more.
Williams won a Golden Globe for portraying a fragile Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn,” but that was bestowed by the Hollywood foreign press, not her peers. Now she’s the frontrunner to seize an Emmy, according to 10 out of the 19 Experts making predictions at Gold Derby, including me, plus Jen Chaney (Vulture), Ben Travers (IndieWire), Matt Webb Mitovich (TVLine), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Glenn Whipp (L.A. Times) and Gold Derby’s Susan Wloszczyna and Joyce Eng.
Williams just took over the lead in this Limited Series Actress category yesterday. Why are we suddenly betting on her now?
Part of that answer has to do with her truly winning performance as Verdon that captures the forceful nature of a hard-working hoofer determined to survive and thrive in the competitive Broadway scene, but there’s more to it than that. In Williams’ eyes, we see Verdon haunted by a constantly breaking heart. Just like Marilyn endured, too. And Williams herself.
Personally speaking, Williams isn’t brassy and outgoing like Verdon, probably because she spent many years of her early career dodging paparazzi determined to grab rude glimpses of her private life with Heath Ledger and their daughter Matilda. When we’ve seen Williams in press interviews, her natural shyness comes through as an endearing wink in her girlish eyes, an ache in her voice that makes her seem as fascinating as a person as she obviously appears as an actress.
Hmmm … maybe all she ever really needed was an assertive can-can kick from Gwen? Perhaps, but now she’s been pushed into the front of an Emmy race where the stakes are much greater than just getting a golden statuette. Victory would mean getting an overdue embrace from her peers.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominations are announced on July 16.