Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell talk about their roles and preparation in Fosse/Verdon
Four-time Academy Award nominee and multiple Golden Globes awards winner Michelle Williams portray real-life iconic theatre personality Gwen Verdon on FX’s Fosse/Verdon.
Four-time Academy Award nominee and multiple Golden Globes awards winner Michelle Williams portray real-life iconic theatre personality Gwen Verdon on FX's Fosse/Verdon. Known for her stellar performances in Academy award-winning and nominated movies such as Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn among others, the actor has now been nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series category at the 71st Emmy Awards this year for her role as the titular character and flawless Broadway dancer on the show Fosse/Verdon
Sam Rockwell is indeed the man of the day, hour and year – in fact, the last two years. The Academy Award winner who is known for his roles in Matchstick Men, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind as well as the Academy award-winning movie – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri among others, portrays the role of filmmaker and choreographer Bob Fosse, another iconic theatre personality who was the Yin to Gwen Verdon's Yan! The actor has also been nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series category at the 71st Emmy Awards this year for his role as the titular character on the show Fosse/Verdon
Fosse/Verdon will premiere in India on Star World on 29th July 2019
Q: What did you know about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon before you started working on this series?
Michelle Williams: I hadn't been familiar at all with Gwen's work. I'd really only been familiar with Bob's but not in a super in-depth kind of way. They had this artistic connection, I always think of it like a chord between the two of them. It's like a really, really, deep bond – almost like the male/female versions of the same soul. If he could think it, she could dance it.
Sam Rockwell: She was a great physical comedian, say, an amazing dancer. She really helped him quite a bit with his career and his life. It was a meeting of two great minds. Almost like twins, you know, they really needed each other. I'm glad we're gonna tell that story.
Q: What preparations went behind taking these roles up and really stepping into Bob and Gwen's shoes?
Michelle Williams: We weren't able to learn all the dances or all the songs ahead in advance of shooting so we were learning them simultaneous to shooting. It almost felt like being at school or something. It was like taking acting lessons and singing lessons and dancing lessons.
Sam Rockwell: You think you can dance and then you get in with some professional dancers who have been dancing since they were 6. Ballet training, modern dance, and then this Fosse style of dancing which is a whole style on its own. Learning that Fosse vocabulary was challenging.
Q: A lot of prosthetic makeup was used to tell the story.
Sam Rockwell: The makeup, the hair, the way they talk, people joked about how they often saw me and Michelle with our earphones in and we were listening to interviews of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse, trying to mimic their voice to some degree. We were also going back and forth between young and older. There was one episode that we had to use a fake beard because we had shaved for the young Fosse and Gwen. That was interesting.
Michelle Williams: I always kept my nails really short and after noticing in some pictures that she had these really well kept long nails, I put on these fake nails and it started to change the way I moved my hands and it started to change the way that I dealt with space. It was time-consuming because we aged 30 years.
Q: What are you hoping to convey to the audiences through Bob and Gwen's story?
Sam Rockwell: I hope that in addition to people who are already really very excited in the musical theatre world, I would hope that people who don't know anything about them would also be moved by this story.
Michelle Williams: I'm really excited for people to get to experience who Gwen was and to maybe look back at her legacy and discover what an unparalleled dancer she was, what a hard worker she was, how compassionate she was and how much love she gave.