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Michelle Williams And Ryan Gosling's Blue Valentine Rehearsals Included Improvising For 12 Hours Straight

Michelle Williams is currently gaining attention — garnering Oscar buzz — for her performance in Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical film, "The Fabelmans." But Williams, who has been acting since the early 1990s, already has plenty of iconic roles under her belt. She is known for her performances in films such as 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," 2011's "My Week With Marilyn" and 2016's "Manchester by the Sea," all of which earned her Academy Award nominations. She also recently portrayed Gwen Verdon in the 2019 FX series, "Fosse/Verdon," which earned her her first Primetime Emmy nomination and win.

Williams also has a fourth Oscar nomination to her name, for the 2010 romantic drama, "Blue Valentine." Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, the film is told in a nonlinear order and chronicles the course of the relationship between Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling), from their unconventional getting-together through the dissolution of their marriage.

Ardent fans of "Blue Valentine" likely know that one fascinating detail about the film is that most of the dialogue was improvised by Williams and Gosling, with the script mostly acting as an outline (via IndieWire). But what fans might not yet know is just how time-consuming that process ended up being — here's what Williams has to say about the 12 hour improv rehearsals.

Director Cianfrance immersed Williams and Gosling in improv rehearsals

In a January 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, Michelle Williams talked through the most memorable roles of her career, thus far — of course, "Blue Valentine" was included in the list. During the interview, she addressed the notable aspect of the fact that most of the dialogue was improvised and explained what that process looked like.

Williams said, "[Director] Derek [Cianfrance] would set up these rehearsals for us where he'd say, 'Okay, now I want you to make a family budget. And now I want you to get into a fight. And now I want you to try and fix the kitchen sink. And now I want you to take your daughter to the playground. And now I want you to take her to the playground after you've had a fight."

Further, sometimes these rehearsals would stretch on for lengthy amounts of time — even as long as half a day. The actress continued, "We had an entire night that we improvised. We had a 12-hour-long, dusk till dawn, that we shot on the streets of upstate New York that was all improvised." Reiterating that they had no plan whatsoever, she then went on to say that she ended up doing random things during the all-nighter, such as tap dancing (a scene that made it into the film, in which Williams' character tap dances while Gosling's character plays the ukulele).

Williams waited a long time to make Blue Valentine

In the same interview with Vanity Fair, Michelle Williams also discussed the fact that she had to wait a really long time before getting to make "Blue Valentine." According to Backstage, Williams signed on for the project when she was 21, with Gosling signing on two years later, but Cianfrance wasn't able to get the financing until years later; they began filming when Williams was 27.

"I really hungered for this one, 'Blue Valentine,'" Williams told the outlet. "There was a time in my life where just everything was Blue Valentine. I had read the script and I was totally obsessed with it and it was like a fire inside myself. Everything I saw, everything I listened to, it was just through this lens of 'Blue Valentine' ... I hung onto it, Ryan hung onto it, Derek hung on to it. And then finally we actually got to make it and it had been living inside of all of us."

The actress stressed that she now associates the "Blue Valentine" era of her life — from the time she read the script to the time that she actually got to film it — with the idea of knowing what you want to do and feeling a deep desire to be doing it. Williams concluded, "When you can't possess something and you just have to live in desire, that's what I think about when I think about the 'Blue Valentine' years. I was just burning with desire for this expression."