Ray Donovan’s Christy Williams on Working with Jon Voight and a “Bear” of an Audition
“For me things that didn’t happen quickly. It’s been a long process but it’s definitely been a fulfilling journey in the last year getting to do so much great work.” – Ray Donovan‘s Christy Williams
When Christy Williams booked the part of Michelle for Showtime’s Ray Donovan, it was just supposed to be for one episode. Then she got called back for another episode. And then another. All in all, she appeared in nine episodes of the hit show, filming most of her scenes alongside series stars Liev Schrieber and Jon Voight. “It ended up being a cool job as an actor,” she told me.
She’s been acting for a while now and admitted that things “didn’t happen quickly” for her but with this great part and the response she’s been receiving, things are definitely moving forward for her.
I talked to her about booking the part and working opposite the wonderful Jon Voight and Liev Schrieber, life after Ray Donovan and a “bear” of an audition.
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Ray Donovan airs on Sundays at 9pm on Showtime.
Tell me about your role on the show.
Christy Williams: I play Michelle. She is a call girl who gets involved working with Mikey Donovan who is played by Jon Voight and they get into all sorts of trouble selling cocaine. He provides her with a bodyguard and a driver with some of the other hookers. And as the season progresses, you’re going to see a romance blossom between Michelle and one of the boys but I don’t want to give too much away.
Have you shot all the episodes yet?
Christy Williams: We wrapped at the end of July.
Tell me about your audition for the show.
Christy Williams: I got a call for the audition. It was originally supposed to be one episode.
Oh, very cool.
Christy Williams: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I had no idea it was going to be such a great journey the way it turned out. They booked me for the one episode and the writers, producers responded to me really well and kept bringing me back and I got pretty fun arc out of it. It ended up being a cool job as an actor.
When you wrapped your first episode, how soon after did you find out that they wanted you back?
Christy Williams: It was probably about a week? It’s hard to remember because I’ve done so many now and they’re all pieced together. But it was pretty quick actually because they were towards the end of shooting on the end of that episode and they called pretty quick and were like, “Well, we want you to come in for another one.” And it kind of just piled on.
So you had no idea it was going to end up being nine episodes?
Christy Williams: I didn’t know which is pretty crazy. It was pretty exciting to get a response like that from people like David Hollander, whose work I respected so much, he’s the show runner this season. Even Jon Voight, who was so complementary to me, I was pinching myself. But really, they made me feel like totally part of the family.
Did you work with most of the cast?
Christy Williams: Yeah. I started out… it’s sort of like A team, B team on the show. We have the Liev Schreiber group with his family and his storyline this year centers mostly on him working with in Ian McShane‘s character and Katie Holmes.
And then you have the B story, which is Mikey Donovan getting into all sorts of trouble working with hookers and his boys, who help him on that end. It started out, I was working just with that part of the cast but as the season goes on, worlds collide a bit and I ended up getting some great scenes in the end with the rest of the family.
When you’re working with guys like Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, do they offer advice or is watching them enough?
Christy Williams: Definitely with Jon it’s like watching a master class. And his process is so in his blood. One day I told him, “You’re kind of like a samurai actor. You don’t even have to do much and it just seems like it’s so filled and it’s all there.” But yeah, definitely he was so awesome and he gave me advice. I guess mostly the main thing was just, “Be simple.” “You’re enough,” is one thing that we talked about.
We were both geeking out about Mark Rylance because I’m obsessed with Mark Rylance as an actor. I saw him on stage in New York and I was in awe of him.
But it’s really fun because Jon will tell stories about the time he met Marlon Brando and was starstruck and I felt the same about him.
And as far as Liev, the first time I saw him on set actually was really refreshing because…. The way I should put it is that it made me realize every actor goes through the same struggles trying to figure out what the scene is about and get the lines out and whatnot. And he such a total genius and such a pro, that was a relief to see someone of his caliber, who is the leader of the show, working through it as were going along. It was good for me as a young actor coming up to see that were all in the same boat, we’re all going to the same thing trying to make it good together.
You actually went to UCLA for screenwriting?
Christy Williams: I did. I didn’t finish but it was sort of a sidetracked passion of mine because I really wanted to go full on into acting. I do love writing, it is definitely still a passion but I would say acting is my number one.
Where are you from originally?
Christy Williams: I’m from Long Beach. I’m a local girl.
Not too far of a commute than.
Christy Williams: No, not at all. I started kind of sneaking up to LA auditioning for small little independent things. I eventually got a commercial agent started booking commercials.
For me things that didn’t happen quickly. It’s been a long process but it’s definitely been a fulfilling journey in the last year getting to do so much great work.
After this role, are getting more auditions? Are casting directors responding to you more?
Christy Williams: Yeah, I’ve definitely had some good response.
One eye-opening thing is… I’ve always liked the show but I didn’t realize how many people love the show. The show has so many fans and the fans are so great, so I have been getting a really good response. We haven’t even seen the best of Michelle yet, it’s coming up. So I feel like once the season is finished, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s gonna happen because it’s going to be really fun.
So what’s happening now? Are you actively looking for things or do you have something in the works?
Christy Williams: It’s the grind of every actor, you get scripts, you go to auditions. There’s some thing’s happening right now which I can’t talk about but it’s just back in the grind of it.
Now that we’ve wrapped, you’re just back in your daily life of the job of an actor which is mostly auditioning and taking meetings and looking for the next project. That’s something I really enjoy, I really enjoy the process. You have to otherwise you go crazy.
Do you like auditioning?
Christy Williams: I do. I didn’t always but I do like it. I really like it because every audition is an opportunity to get a script and really figure out the story, figure out that character. It’s kind of like a nice way to escape into another world or into another person’s perspective even if it’s just for a day.
What’s been one of your worst auditions so far?
Christy Williams: Okay, I did have a really bad one for an independent horror film. This was a long time ago, one of the first films I went to audition for in LA.
What was so bad about it was there wasn’t a lot of lines. Basically there is a scene where a bear attacks me. So I go and I do my few lines and then they asked me to do this other scene, which I didn’t know about beforehand. “Read it over and we’re gonna have you do it.” And I looked it over and it was literally just this girl getting attacked by a bear. I was like, “Okay, so you want me to just pantomime that a bear is attacking me?” They were like, “Yeah, yeah.”
So I did it the whole time I was thinking, “Oh my God, is this a hidden camera show? What is going on?” It was so awkward because I was screaming and yelling and falling on the floor. It was mortifying. I hope there’s not a tape of that anywhere.