Michelle Williams says Dawson’s Creek’s Grams is the “first person” who took her seriously

Jen always loved her Grams.

for six seasons, Michelle Williams worked alongside Mary Beth Peil At Dawson’s Creek, Peil plays Jens (Williams) beloved Grams. And now, 25 years later Dawson’s premiered, Williams still looks back fondly on that experience – and particularly on working with Peil.

Above, EW has an exclusive clip from Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, in which Williams speaks to Geist about the series, calling it a “stabilizing force” in her life when she was young. “It taught me to be responsible, it taught me how to get to work on time, it taught me to prepare for the next day at night, it taught me sort of the basics, how to take care of myself Williams says, adding, “We were like a very sleepy southern town and the crew really felt like they were looking out for us. They knew how young we were and they wrapped around us like bumpers, just making sure we were safe and making sure I went to the dentist, things that didn’t really come naturally to me. I really appreciate how people allow us to have honest childhoods.

Michelle Williams on Sunday today

ABC Michelle Williams

Filming in North Carolina meant the actors didn’t spend much time in Los Angeles, a fact Williams is grateful for. “It was really nice to be pulled out of Los Angeles,” she says. “I think that’s a tough city to live in when you’re young and alone, and Wilmington, NC is like a much more manageable pace.”

As for Peil, who she still refers to as “Grams,” Williams says, “She took me under her wing right away. I didn’t have family there, I didn’t have parents who were there, and she really filled that role for me.”

Dawson's Creek

Dawson’s Creek

Fred Norris/The WB Michelle Williams and Mary Beth Peil on Dawson’s Creek

But Peil was more than a parent figure to Williams. The Emmy winner calls Peil “the first real artist I’ve ever met.” Williams continues, “She told me stories about New York City and plays and playwrights. She invited me to stay with her, she took me places and she told me about this place where I could go and build a life and have a career and do really fun and exciting work and she told me that this is possible for me. Even though I was like a teenage soap opera, she spoke to me about the future and what it might hold for me.

Her closing thought on Peil is simple: “She was the first person who honestly took me seriously.”

Watch an exclusive clip from Williams’ interview above.

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