INTERVIEW: Jessica Williams Talks the Ensemble Nature of ‘Shrinking’
Shrinking has become the latest show on Apple TV+ to make us cry without even trying. Focusing on Jimmy (Jason Segel) and his grief, the series is about how his work as a psychiatrist is unorthodox and how the people in his life help not only Jimmy but themselves through their own form of coping. Starring Segel, Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams, and an all-star cast all around, it’s just a wonderful show to sit down and watch each week.
In preparation for the series premiere, I got to talk with the cast and creatives behind the show, including Jason Segel and Jessica Williams! Talking with Williams, I brought up how I was a big fan of her work and comedy. But asked what it was like being in an ensemble piece like this and what drew her to Shrinking In the first place.
“Honestly, it was a dream come true,” Williams said. “I wanted to do Shrinking because I’m a big Jason Segel fan. I think he’s super talented and I love his work and I love Brett Goldstein and Bill Lawrence. I was a big Scrubs fan and it was just kind of a no-brainer for me. And when we initially spoke about the character of Gabby, who I play, they sort of had a skeleton of her and an idea of how they wanted her to be, but they really wanted to write her to the actress that played her. So I got really lucky and it was good because it allowed us to create a character that kind of has depth and is dynamic and has different moods and I got to improvise a lot on set, which ruled and it was a really, really rewarding job for me.”
The benefits of improvising
I’m someone who studied improv, so the minute someone brings up doing it on a set, I’m fascinated by it. Williams talked about the character being crafted to her as the actress bringing Gabby to life and then the improvisation that they were all allowed to do. So I asked about whether or not that was more rewarding to her as an actress than a set that is strictly no improvising.
“Yeah, it can be like a lot of times when you’re improvising with good people it feels really, really good and there’s sort of a danger and a trust there with the other person that you’re improvising with and with yourself,” she said. “But then a lot of times, you know, it is nice having the words on the page and pulling from that and having evidence of traits of a character. There’s a freedom in that as well. So it depends on the job and for Shrinking it was really fun. I felt really fulfilled.”
But I also talked with Williams about having Gabby crafted to her and the feelings within that because it is special to know that a character was made for you and your strengths. “It was actually an honor that they had trusted me enough to do that,” she said. “I wasn’t worried because they’d probably already seen my stuff already and there are some aspects of it that they enjoyed and they wanted me to bring that to Gabby and they were really, really clear early on that they wanted to try something and I just trusted that I was in good hands with Bill Lawrence and Neil (Goldman) and Brett (Goldstein). They’re all thoughtful gentlemen and I knew it was going to work out for her.”
Shrinking airs on Apple TV+ and is a must-see! Especially for Jessica Williams.
(featured image: Apple TV+)
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