Starting her career in television in the 90’s before becoming a fully bona fide movie star during the 00’s and 10’s, it is surprising that Michelle Williams has come full circle with a return to television in the role of Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon. Williams however, has a basic explanation.
“This is something that’s being made in New York City. New York City is where I live and I will do just about anything to stay at home. So if that’s a movie, if that’s a play, I try to adapt what I do to these mediums so that I can work from home.”
New York is the incomparable location to film Fosse/Verdon the biographical mini-series which spans five decades delving in to the professional and personal relationship between Gwen Verdon (Golden Globe® winner Michelle Williams) and Bob Fosse (Oscar® winner Sam Rockwell). Verdon, who is recognised as the greatest Broadway dancer of all time and Fosse who worked in film before transitioning to theatre and is credited with the development of famous dance move “jazz hands” were instrumental in the development of American entertainment as it stands today.
Williams recognises the intense connection between Fosse and Verdon. “If they could have lived inside a rehearsal room, they would have stayed together forever. So they had this perfect creative symbiosis and I’m sure that that was very exciting to be at the heart of, but it’s just that kind of volatility doesn’t make for a stable home environment.”
The role of Verdon allowed Williams to showcase her own personal passions. “I think it combines a lot of things that I Iove: singing, dancing, the Broadway theatre, candor and live performance, an actor that I love, Sam Rockwell, a woman that as I’ve known to come and understand her, I was really excited to play her.”
Williams and Verdon share more than the passion for dancing and Broadway theatre. Both have been nominated and won their share of awards. Verdon won 4 Tony® Awards in the space of six years and Williams is a four time Oscar® nominated actress with one Golden Globe win and 5 further nominations to her name. Williams was clearly fascinated by Verdon. “I think that whatever you’re playing, the story and the character, they kind of cast a little bit of a spell… She also has her shortcomings for sure: she’s daffy, she’s very driven and that’s not a shortcoming but to the detriment of possibly her child, or possibly her friendships, or possibly her relationships, but all in all it was a really beautiful space for me to exist in.”
Fosse/Verdon includes original dance pieces alongside iconic pieces by Fosse and Verdon while telling the story of their troubled personal and professional relationship. “When they were together they made an ocean and they could swim in it, so I think that’s what kept them connected. She was the greatest interpreter of his work; he was the greatest instructor of her art. And so, they reached their highest highs with each other…I just imagine that space when you’re creating something and when you’re dancing together and you’re using your bodies in that kind of way, it’s intoxicating.”
Fosse/Verdon – Wednesday’s at 9.30 on SoHo2, also available on NEON and SKY GO/On Demand.
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