Bringing Alma to brilliant life is 25-year-old Michelle Williams, whose memorable turn has generated nominations for supporting actress honors, from, among others, the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards and BAFTA. She also won the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. award for the film.
Not only has "Brokeback" been the highlight of her young career, it has also changed her personal life. She's engaged to Ledger and the two welcomed their first child, Matilda, last October.
Q: Both you and Heath have had your baby daughter on your minds more than the awards season, so what has that been like for you to deal with both?
A: It's a very steep learning curve.
Q: In what way?
A: How to balance the world. I find that it's very, very difficult to get out of the house these days. It takes me ages, ages to get ready, ages to make sure that Matilda has everything she needs and everybody knows what to do with her. I have a bit of an attack about leaving her. And then once we are there, it is sweet. It is sweet to be involved in the movie and it's rewarding and it's even, dare I say, kind of fun.
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Q: You and Heath must know your fellow nominees pretty well by now with all the awards shows.
A: You know what has been so cool is getting to know the women in my category. I don't know if this sounds phony or not — but I assure you it isn't — but they are the coolest bunch of ladies. I am so enamored with them. Catherine Keener, she is such a hoot. And Amy Adams, she's so funny and so generous. I haven't met Frances McDormand yet. And Rachel Weisz who is pregnant, we can talk about all things baby. I really enjoy talking to them and seeing them. I really look forward to seeing them at these shows.
Q: Aren't you going back to New York to do a movie before the Academy Awards ceremony?
A: I somehow committed myself to making a movie in the middle of all of this. It is just a mommy-sized, back-to-work role in this movie called "The Hottest State" that Ethan Hawke is directing from the novel he wrote.
Q: Will Matilda be on set?
A: Oh yeah. Anywhere I go she goes.
Q: When you read the script of "Brokeback Mountain" did you immediately feel a kinship to Alma?
A: Yeah. Even before I got caught up in the love story between the two men, my heart was with her.
A: You know, a lot of things. Things I related to, things I didn't relate to that made me curious about them. But mostly, the reasons are totally mysterious. When something really moves you, it's hard to put into words. When you stare at a painting and you can't take your eyes off of it you don't know what it is inside you that's being spoken too, you just know you are moved beyond words, you are moved into somebody else's expression. That is what I felt when I read Alma.
Q: Before you even got on set, did you have an idea of how you wanted to portray her?