On cool but on a humane November evening in Toronto, Allison Williams and I fall into a lengthy conversation about how politely one can manipulate an audience. Williams is an actress, one of the most conscientious of her generation; audience manipulation is her not-so-secret weapon. And I am well aware that as a writer covering her for the magazine, I am an integral part of this audience.
I have interviewed Williams several times over the years, and each time he was as sweet, warm, and full of mutual compliments as the last. I would say that at the moment we like each other. But also, right? Maybe we? Is it possible to have a “genuine” connection during a press conference between two people who know how the personality machine works and who are each trying to use it to their advantage? Is it imprudent to admit that both of you are trying to have a good time? Maybe, but let’s just dive into the ambiguity and have some fun for now.
Williams and I sit outside in the dark, with only a few dim streetlights providing visibility in the narrow space between the talent trailers. I’m here to talk about M3GANa killer thriller starring Williams that comes out in January, but she’s already filming her next project, Fellow travelers, a limited series set at the height of McCarthyism. Williams’ hair is still curled and pinned up for the mid-century dinner party, but filming is over for that day. We are wearing coats the size of a sleeping bag, and she provided both. Hollywood fantasy and reality collide.
The age-old measure of the success of a celebrity profile is the degree of authenticity achieved, the partial or complete exposure of artificiality in the pursuit of truth. But in an era of simulated personalities and parasocial relationships, I’m more interested in the trick. May be cunning although it is too cynical a word. It is not tricky or subversive for a celebrity to have a public and private version of themselves. When your job by definition exposes you to millions of people who can access vast amounts of personal information about you, creating yourself that you can share with the masses but check at the door when it’s time to go home seems more like a survival tactic. than a vanity game.
The pleasure of Allison Williams lies in how she knows how to take the whole process apart. She knows people have preconceived notions about her, so why not play along with them? “For me to think that we live in a world where people come in tabula rasa – like: “I forget everything that I have ever seen, a person did, everything that I know about her” – that would be inhuman! » she said. You know that accomplice dynamic that forms when a stranger leans in closer at a party and starts to bond with you because of how weird the atmosphere is? It’s like talking to Williams about her own life; just two people, huddled in a quiet corner, assessing her personality together, gathering Okay, but who is she? You don’t know if you’ll ever see each other again or switch hands after this, but right now you’re best friends. By the end of the night, you’ll even have inside jokes, and as you get comfortable, you’ll move on to weird conversational topics like this one:
“The Metaverse would be asking us to comfortably forego the authentic, physical, human, mundane, naked, bare bones for an identity that we very consciously created,” Williams says when I ask her about worldbuilding. new identities in the digital age. “I found this dance, this conversation between two versions of preferred reality, very interesting.” She presents this in what I understand to be a key feature of her spoken language, scientific analysis befitting her Yale English degree but delivered in a casual, unassuming tone. Williams is damn smart and self-deprecating, but not enough to turn into an affectation. She dances a unique dance. She models a new way of life. She is one of the most deliberate creatures I have ever seen.