Dawson's Creek Taught Michelle Williams 'How To Have A Voice'

From 1998 through 2003, Michelle Williams ("Brokeback Mountain," "Blue Velvet," "The Fablemans") played Jen Lindley on the TV series "Dawson's Creek." It's where most of us first saw her; for some people, it was a formative part of their teenage years. Jen Lindley appeared on the scene in season 1, a girl from the small town of Capeside who had gone to New York City and had a rough time with drugs and sex. When she returns, judgments are made, she's part of a love triangle between Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes), and she has a problematic relationship with her conservative Christian grandmother, aka Gram (Mary Beth Peil). Through the seasons (and Williams appeared in all of them), Jen became a beloved character right up until the tragic end. 

The show tackled issues of teen sex, homophobia, mental illness, drug abuse, and so much more, and though it's dated now, it was pretty frank about so many things that hadn't often been explored in a way that didn't feel like an afterschool special. 

Williams was just 16 when she got the role and sort of grew up with Jen Lindley. According to a video from Vanity Fair where Williams breaks down her career, it was a great learning experience for her as well, allowing her to begin to use her voice as part of the production, which was grueling with 22 episodes a year. 

'I think I was learning how to have a voice'

Despite this being a show for teens, Michelle Williams said she always took it seriously. "Maybe a little too seriously," she says in the video. Williams explains: 

"I think they thought we were kind of like annoying kids because I was like, 'I have a note' or 'I don't want her to do that' or 'I don't want her to say that.' But I think I was learning how to have a voice, and I felt very connected to the character because I played it for so long, and I think I was just so young when I played that part, and my identity was still sort of forming, and so we were kind of meshing with each other, and so I took it very personally."

It wasn't an easy job, as she said in Variety's Actors on Actors chat in 2019 (via People). She explained, "We did 22 episodes a year, you'd be getting scripts sort of at the last minute, and you had like zero input. That was hard; it was a little bit like a factory job. It was formulaic." Input, as you can see, is important to Williams, who also said in the chat that she hadn't done much on the small screen since. "I don't think I've done television in between then and now because of a fear of loss of input." However, she has appeared in an episode of "Cougar Town" (which her best friend Busy Philipps starred in), and the miniseries "Fosse/Verdon."

Williams' approach to acting has clearly paid off for her, winning her two Golden Globes, a Primetime Emmy, and was nominated for four Academy Awards and four BAFTA Awards. Her film "The Fablemans" is currently in theaters.