Why Does Michelle Williams Always Wear Wigs On-Screen?


This yr supplies audiences with 2 probabilities to see Michelle Williams in theaters: I Feel Pretty and Venom. Yet followers may have roughly 0 probabilities to see Williams’s pixie minimize in all of its pixie-cut glory, and that’s as a result of she wears a wig in each movies. Covering a pixie minimize that good must be unlawful, however these films aren’t alone of their crime in opposition to good hair. Williams has truly worn wigs in 9 of her final 10 movies—a pattern that not solely is legal to Williams’s pixie minimize however highlights a better concern in Hollywood concerning magnificence requirements, brief hair and what it means to be seen as a number one woman.

Michelle Williams

Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

The pattern of Williams carrying wigs on-screen started with 2011’s My Week with Marilyn, which noticed Williams’s brief platinum-blonde wig as a necessary instrument in remodeling her into Marilyn Monroe. It’s not shocking, even perhaps anticipated, that Williams would put on a wig; drastically altering 1’s appearances with hair and make-up is widespread in biopics. Nor is it shocking that Williams wore a wig as Glinda in 2013’s Oz the Great and Powerful, an adaptation of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, which noticed Glinda with lengthy, shoulder-length blonde hair. Williams’s following movies, together with Suite Française, The Greatest Showman, All the Money within the World and Wonderstruck, additionally noticed her with wigs.

Though it may be argued that a few of these wigs had been vital primarily based on the movie’s interval or supply materials, not all of Williams’s wigs have substantial arguments. One case is 2016’s Manchester by the Sea, which earned Williams her fourth Oscar nomination for less than 11 minutes of display time as a result of, sure, she’s that good. What wasn’t so good was the wig she wore, which served perplexing objective on this movie because it’s not set to a interval nor was it vital to remain true to supply materials. Williams performs a mom whose youngsters die in a fireplace, and the wig was meant to focus on the passage of time, which might actually have been carried out in lots of different methods moderately than making Williams put on a distractingly dangerous wig.

I Feel Pretty


This brings us to 2 of probably the most egregious examples of Williams’s pointless wigs: I Feel Pretty and Venom, 2 movies from this yr, which emphasize Hollywood’s ever-present affiliation between lengthy hair and wonder. In I Feel Pretty, Amy Schumer’s comedy from April, Williams performs Avery LeClaire, a vapid, insecure entrepreneur working within the magnificence business. In the film, Williams wears a mid-length blonde wig that falls just a few inches under her shoulders. 

Tlisted here are a number of points right here. The first is that many ladies within the magnificence business have shorter hair; even the Kardashian-Jenners, licensed titans of the wonder business, are identified to chop their hair when the temper strikes. The 2nd is the need for Williams to put on a wig to play a high-powered magnificence boss suggests the next: “Hey, Michelle Williams. We need you to be the embodiment of magnificence requirements. And you’re. Mostly. You’re conventionally enticing and skinny, however your hair is brief. So, put on this wig for longer, extra historically lovely hair. Thanks.”

My Week with Marilyn

Photo: The Weinstein Company.

In the trailer for Venom, Marvel’s Spider-Man spinoff debuting in October, Williams wears a wig that falls beneath her shoulders and is a shade of blonde not in contrast to her personal. She’s set to look as Anne Weying, Eddie Brock/Venom’s comic-book love curiosity. Though it’s straightforward to imagine that Williams wore this wig to look extra just like the comic-book character she’s taking part in, that’s not precisely the case. Most comic-book incarnations of Anne characteristic her with brief blonde hair in regards to the size of William’s real-life pixie minimize. The wig truly makes Williams look much less just like the character.

So if it’s to not keep true to the comics, what’s the objective of William’s wigs? Very merely, it’s to make her look extra conventionally enticing because the central love curiosity in a significant studio launch. There are only a few occasions within the final 20 years love curiosity in a movie of the identical scale has, in truth, had brief hair. This is a pattern throughout the leisure business, too. A latest instance is The Bachelor, which took 22 seasons to forged a contestant with a pixie minimize.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Of Williams’s final 10 movies, there’s just one the place she doesn’t put on a wig: 2016’s Certain Women. Along with being wig-free, Williams was additionally makeup-free. What’s much more attention-grabbing about Williams’s wig-free and makeup-free look is that the movie was helmed by a feminine director, Kelly Reichardt, who collaborated with Williams on 2 different movies, which additionally noticed her and not using a wig and make-up. And whereas it looks like Reichardt has an affinity for showcasing Williams in her pure magnificence, it must be talked about that Reichardt’s small-budget indie movies seemingly include extra artistic freedom than, say, Sony’s Venom. More artistic freedom means much less restriction from Hollywood magnificence requirements and, in flip, the potential for fewer wigs.

Still, it’s not a coincidence that in Williams’s final 10 movies, Certain Women is the one 1 led by a sole feminine director and the one film by which Williams’s brief hair is seen in all its pure glory. “Female directors understand the work that goes into makeup,” mentioned Vivian Baker, who labored as the top of make-up on Oz the Great and Powerful, by way of e mail. “Filmmakers are all about creating the character to work with the story. They are storytellers.”

Manchester by the Sea

Amazon Studios.

The mysterious case of Williams carrying wigs could also be defined in her shift to extra grownup roles, resulting in her work in interval items, biopics and studio productions. Still there stays a direct correlation between her wigs and when she debuted her pixie minimize at 2010’s Cannes Film Festival. Since then, Williams hasn’t grown her hair out in any substantial manner—together with her 2015 lob being the longest it’s been since—and he or she’s worn wigs for about 90 p.c of her roles. In the seven years between the ultimate Dawson’s Creek (by which she’s seen with lengthy, shoulder-length hair) and her 2010 pixie minimize, Williams’s transition from TV actor to Hollywood film star featured her wig-free in a handful of movies, together with Blue Valentine and Deception. That all modified in 2010 when Williams minimize her hair and nearly completely wore wigs on-screen.

If you’re a conventionally enticing actress who’s nonetheless younger sufficient to be thought-about a love curiosity by Hollywood’s requirements, there’s little chance you’ll seem on-screen with a pixie minimize. Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson each had pixie cuts that they’ve since grown out, and neither of them appeared on-screen when their hair was at its shortest. In V for Vendette and Les Misérables, Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway, respectively, appeared with shaved heads, although their heads had been shaved as plot factors within the movies. Of course, conforming to magnificence requirements isn’t explicit to white girls. Black girls chill out their hair or put on wigs on-screen so usually that Black Panther’s celebration of pure hair was deemed revolutionary.

All the Money in the World

TriStar Pictures.

Ginnifer Goodwin is among the few actresses, like Williams, dedicated to shorter hair. In order to maintain her hair brief, Goodwin confessed to having a “wig clause” written into her contracts. (There’s no phrase on whether or not Williams, too, has opted for a wig clause.) Goodwin’s lovely pixie minimize did seem on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, however below the guise of this being her “regular person” hair. When Goodwin appeared as Mary Margaret Blanchard, a fourth-grade instructor within the small city of Storybrooke, she wore her pixie minimize. When Goodwin appeared as Snow White, she wore a protracted brunette wig that cascaded down her shoulders. The present’s illustration of shorter hair was a win; the truth that it in the end implied the distinction between a standard particular person and a princess is lengthy, flowing hair was a loss.

There’s Williams, and on the different finish of the spectrum is Blake Lively, who’s identified in Hollywood for her lengthy, princess-like hair. Lively’s hair nearly at all times seems on-screen and is virtually a costar in her movies. This isn’t commentary on Lively’s performing skills, however moderately the way in which the digicam follows her hair. Whether it’s the wholesome hair of a teenage soccer participant (Sister of the Traveling Pants), the costly hair of a rich It-girl (Gossip Girl), the old school hair of somebody who hasn’t aged in a century (Age of Adeline) or the wavy hair of a surfer (Shallows), the main target is on Lively’s hair. Because it’s so uncommon to see Lively’s hair hidden below a wig, latest pictures of her filming 2019’s The Rhythm Section—whereas carrying a wig!—spawned headlines in regards to the actress wanting “unrecognizable.” Williams, then again, doesn’t elicit the identical response, because it’s nearly anticipated that she don a wig on-screen. Though it actually looks like Williams wears extra wigs than the common four-time Oscar nominee, is that truly the case?

Baker argued that the observe is extra widespread than followers may assume. “Wigs are used quite often. You might be surprised how often,” she mentioned. Baker defined that good wigs are costly, and there are budgetary considerations. Baker, who has additionally labored with actresses equivalent to Lively, Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow, clarified that the one agenda is for actresses to suit into the character they had been forged to play. “Producers, on the other hand, prefer them looking beautiful. But not fake,” she added.

While it’s true that Williams doesn’t look “fake” within the trailer for Venom, is a wig protecting her pixie minimize really vital with a purpose to to make her (a model ambassador for Louis Vuitton, no much less) look lovely on-screen? The reply isn’t any, however it does appear that so long as Williams is conventionally enticing, significantly younger and acceptably skinny, she’s going to proceed to be forged as leads, love pursuits and good witches and can seemingly proceed carrying wigs to play these roles—until she grows out her hair, after all.

Michelle Williams

Adam Pretty/Getty Images.

Considering that the premise of I Feel Pretty condemns arbitrary magnificence requirements, Williams’s hiding her pixie minimize below a wig of longer hair seems like an unintentional metaphor for the movie—and maybe the leisure business as a complete.


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