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Why Gemma From M3GAN Looks So Familiar

When it comes to horror movies about childhood toys turned demonic villains, "Chucky" from "Child's Play" is a mainstay of the subgenre. While Chucky was intent on running rampant and harming as many people as he could, the titular doll in the new sci-fi horror feature "M3GAN" is both protective and homicidal. The Gerard Johnstone-directed, Jason Blum-produced movie also features a strong dose of horror comedy amongst the mayhem. In his review of the film, Neil Smith of Total Film observed, "[Its] vein of knowing humour ... sets the movie apart from the Annabelles and Chuckys of this world."

Most of the irreverent comedy comes from James Wan and Akela Cooper's darkly sardonic screenplay, in addition to a stellar cast. "M3GAN's" central performance comes from young actress Violet McGraw who plays Cady, the title character's owner, while the titular doll is played by Amie Donald in Performance Capture and voiced by Jenna Davis. Ronny Chieng and Brian Jordan Alvarez are also featured as David and Cole respectively. 

The lead role of Gemma, the creator of the artificial intelligence-programmed title doll, is played by an actor you may find familiar. Here is where you may have seen her before.

Allison Williams' breakthrough role was as Marnie Michaels on HBO's Girls

Gemma is played by actor Allison Williams. The daughter of former NBC news anchor Brian Williams, the actor started her career in the late 2000s before landing a main role on HBO's female-centered, millennial comedy series "Girls," which ran from 2012-2017. She played the character of Marnie Michaels, the ambitious yet lost best friend of lead character Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham). Although she did not always agree with Marnie's choices in the show, Williams praised what star and creator/writer Dunham explored through a range of important themes concerning friendship and early adulthood.

Speaking to BuzzFeed in 2014, she stated, "I'm incredibly proud of the show because it actually has something to say and, for good or for bad, you saw it in that moment. I would absolutely be OK with 'Girls' serving as a time capsule for this current generation." She concluded by observing how the show mirrored the experiences she had with her real female friends, and said that it was reminiscent of conversations she had over the years. 

During the run of the program, Williams starred as the title character in NBC's "Peter Pan Live!," before embarking on a breakout film role in one of the 2010's best horror films.

She starred as Rose Armitage in Jordan Peele's Get Out

In the winter of 2017, a socially relevant horror movie named "Get Out" was released, and subsequently became a box office sensation. The film was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who explored themes of racism in America within a uniquely-crafted, scary narrative. Allison Williams played the girlfriend of lead character Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), and her neatly put-together, white elitist family (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, and Caleb Landry Jones) hides a twisted secret that revolves around "the sunken place." Peele went on to praise Williams and her desire to flesh out her character, calling her performance in the feature "precise" and labeling her "a perfectionist (via The Los Angeles Times)."

In an interview with /Film while promoting "M3GAN," Williams spoke about the dark subject matter she has frequently explored in characters, starting with Rose from "Get Out." She shared, "I love [socially conscious horror], because I think that sometimes, as Jordan [Peele] used to say a lot when we were promoting "Get Out," the way we talk about race is broken and we needed new language for things to be able to make the conversation more meaningful, deeper, revive it for this new generation that doesn't know how to talk about it. So that's one thing." The way horror speaks on hard-to-speak-about topics kept drawing her back to the genre. 

She concluded by highlighting the three-dimensional storylines she values in Rose and other roles in the genre. After the intensity of "Get Out," the actor got the chance to test her range in a lighthearted comedy.

The actor had a recurring role on Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" was based on the series of books by Lemony Snicket and ran for three seasons on the streaming service. The show told the story of the Baudelaire family and the greedy Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) who is intent on stealing their fortune. Allison Williams eventually joined the cast in the program's second season early in 2018, playing the part of Kit Snicket, Lemony's (Patrick Warburton) sister and the former fiancee of Olaf. Although she only appeared in eight episodes before the series concluded, the free-spirited character was a comedic change of pace for the consistently serious actor.

Speaking to Collider in 2019, Williams was asked if Kit was fun to play, and she replied, "Oh, my god, she was so much fun to play. It was such a blast because she is so unlike anyone that I've played before, and singular, in general. Especially because there are fans of the show, I really wanted to do her justice. There's nothing worse than disappointing a bunch of fans."

The word "fun" is not the first word many would use to describe the actor's next starring role — a return to the psychological thriller genre.

Williams played Charlotte Willmore in the psychological horror film The Perfection

Released at the Fantastic Fest in late 2018, and debuting on Netflix in the spring of 2019, "The Perfection" is a David Lynch-esque horror movie that pushes the boundaries between the horrific and the surreal. Allison Williams stars as Charlotte, a talented cellist who becomes friends with Lizzie (Logan Browning), a gifted student who replaced her at their musical training academy after Charlotte was forced to leave to care for her ailing mother. Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "A stylishly made, nail-biting effort that proves consistently engrossing." Describing the movie's plot in detail risks spoiling its many twists and surprises.

For Allison Williams, playing Charlotte was in many ways similar to playing Rose in "Get Out." The actor told Popsugar in 2019, "I just thought, coming out of 'Get Out,' it would be a very interesting experience for audience members still sort of not trusting me and not knowing what to expect when they see me onscreen. I thought that would be a good way for this movie to start." She then revealed how both Rose and Charlotte could be in conversation with one another in her own mind. 

Her next acting challenge would continue that trend of upending audience expectations in each of her performances.

Allison Williams starred as Sara in the disaster movie Horizon Line

Disaster movies have a lot in common with both the thriller and adventure genres, which is where 2020's "Horizon Line" firmly fits. In the film, Allison Williams plays the lead role of Sara Johnson, who reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Jackson (Alexander Dreymon) before taking a doomed flight to the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean. The duo struggles to navigate the small plane they are traveling on after the pilot unexpectedly passes away from a heart attack. 

The movie benefited from compelling lead performances and an interesting premise, but was ultimately panned by critics and audiences alike (per Rotten Tomatoes), despite coming from the developers of "10 Cloverfield Lane."

Although the reviews for the survival feature were negative, Williams did win some praise for her part. For example, Allison Rose of Flick Direct stated, "Williams is fairly strong in her role as Sara and she brings a level of maturity to the role." 

The film began a real-life romance between its two leading actors, and Allison Williams gave birth to the couple's first child in 2022 after being together since 2019.