How Michelle Williams found the music of Mitzi Fabelman

NEW YORK (AP) — In both Steven Spielberg’s and Kelly Reichardt’s upcoming “Showing Up,” Michelle Williams plays women where life — societal hurdles and daily nuisances — gets in the way of self-expression.

Mitzi Fabelman, the early-1960s matriarch based on Spielberg’s own mother, has given up her career as a talented concert pianist to raise a family. It’s a sacrifice that haunts her. It’s also a gift that radiates from her.

“I think of her as the piano that she loved so much,” Williams says. “That range was inside of her. That musicality. That emotional dexterity. That was her art. That music flowed through her, and it affected how deeply she could feel. She was the tornado that she drove into.”

As an actor, Williams has, herself, steered straight into some indelibly tempestuous characters: the romantic of Marilyn Monroe in the anguished ex-wife of But if there was ever a role that showed the extent of Williams’ remarkable range – her every-note-on-the-piano “emotional dexterity” – it’s Mitzi.