Jen has always loved her Grams.
For six seasons, Michelle Williams worked alongside Mary Beth Peil on Dawson’s Creek, Peil playing Jen’s (Williams) beloved Grams. And now, 25 years after Dawson’s premiered, Williams still looks back on that experience — and specifically, working with Peil — fondly.
Above, EW has an exclusive clip from Sunday TODAY With Willie Geist, in which Williams talks to Geist about the series, calling it a “stabilizing force” in her life when she was young. “It taught me how to be responsible, it taught me how to get to work on time, it taught me how to prepare at night for the next day, it taught me sort of like the basics of how to take care of myself,” Williams says, adding, “We were in like a very sleepy Southern town and the crew really felt like they looked out for us. They knew how young we were and they kind of put like bumpers around us, just made sure that we were safe and taken care of, that I went to the dentist, things that didn’t really come naturally to me. I really appreciate the way that people let us kind of have a childhood honestly.”
NBC Michelle Williams
Filming in North Carolina meant that the actors didn’t spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, a fact that Williams is thankful for looking back. “It was really nice to be taken out of Los Angeles,” she says. “I think that’s a tough city to live in when you’re young and alone and Wilmington, N.C. is like a much more manageable pace.”
As for Peil, whom she still refers to as “Grams,” Williams says, “She immediately took me under her wing. I didn’t have family there, I didn’t have parents that were there and she really filled that role for me.”
Fred Norris/The WB Michelle Williams and Mary Beth Peil on ‘Dawson’s Creek’
But Peil was more than a parental figure for Williams. The Emmy-winning actress calls Peil “the first real artist that I ever met.” Williams continues, “She told me stories about New York City and plays and playwrights. She invited me to come stay with her, she took me places, and she told me about this place where I could go and make a life and have a career and do really fun and exciting work, and she told me that that was possible for me. Even though I was on like a teen soap opera, she would talk to me about like the future and what that could look like for me.”
Her final thought on Peil is simple: “She was the first person who took me kind of seriously, honestly.”