We met actress Allison Williams, who plays Kit Snicket from the Netflix show "A Series of Unfortunate Events," when she was in Manhattan recently.
What drew you toward a role in "A Series of Unfortunate Events"?
Well, first of all the books are amazing. Have you guys read the books? Have you watched the first season, then? OK, so you understand the show is so great. By the time I got involved with the show, the only season that had come out was Season 1. I watched it. I had read the books, and my little brother read the books, and so I thought I really want to be involved. I loved the Baudelaires. I hated all the grown-ups that they came into contact with. I wanted someone who is responsible who is going to do a good job and who wanted the best for them. A grown-up who would trust them and would be nice to them a little bit at least and try to take care of them. And so the idea of playing Kit was so exciting to me and was something that I really, really wanted to do.
Did you make any lifestyle changes while you were playing the role, and if so what were they?
One lifestyle change was that I was not pregnant, so I didn’t become pregnant for the role. I needed to have a lot of protein. Kit does a lot of running and a lot of jumping and flying, and all kinds of adventurous stuff, so I needed to make sure that I had a lot of protein. Which basically just meant peanut butter or whatever the grown-ups around me said. I still don’t think of myself as grown-up, but whatever the adults around me said had protein in it was what I would eat. Other than that, I just tried to get as much sleep as possible so that I could remember the words. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed the words in this show, but the lines are so long and there’s so many words in them, like "self-sustaining hot air mobile home." That’s not something I’ve ever said before. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever say again, but it’s something Kit had to say a couple of times. I had to be able to say those lines seamlessly, quickly, and with a total sense of mission, because Kit is intense like that. I think that was the trickiest, making sure I was getting enough sleep so I can remember my lines. And eating a lot of protein so I can run through forests with a sugar wall.
What similarities do you and Kit Snicket share, and did these help you become the character?
I think we’re both very determined. We’re both very sort of “can do.” I like to think I can do whatever I need to do to figure something out if there’s a problem. And I think Kit is very much like that. She’s braver than I am. I don’t know if anyone is. And yes, of course, I always use those little things that I have in common with characters to try to figure out a way in. But with Kit, it was very cool because her costume, it was so awesome.
Have you ever met a fan who repeated a line from the movie or a TV show that you did?
I have. I’d say the No. 1 line that is repeated to me is from a movie called “Get Out” that I don’t think you guys have seen. So there’s that. But “A Series of Unfortunate Events” hasn’t been out long enough for me to really interact with people yet. But I really look forward to that because I played Peter Pan a bunch of years ago, and the most fun I had after playing “Peter Pan” was talking to kids much younger than you are about Peter Pan, and they thought I was magic and that I could fly. And I told them not to try flying at home on their own. That they needed my fairy dust to be able to fly. That’s some of the most fun that I ever have is talking to fans of whatever it is that I’ve worked on, but especially younger people because they’re so much more interesting than older people.
We know your dad is newscaster Brian Williams. What is it like having a newscaster for a dad?
It’s very cool. But more important than his job, is that he’s a really nice man. And he’s one of my favorite people in the whole world. We have so much fun together. He makes me laugh. And he can tell me what’s going on in the world. It’s sort of a perfect situation. There are certain privileges, like you know when news is breaking, I might find out 20 seconds before other people do, which isn’t very much time but it allows me to get to a TV and turn on the TV because I know something's coming. But it also means I love news. I always have. I’ve always wanted to know what was going on. I watch the news and listen to news and read news all day. My mom was a TV news producer when they met. She was his boss. So there’s that. But yes, I grew up in a news family so that’s part of it, and now my brother is a sportscaster, so the whole gang's involved, and it’s really, really fun.
If you had any other job than being an actress what would it be?
Another really good question. Maybe, should it be like outside of film altogether? Just totally different. (Just something maybe besides acting.) OK. I would say like producing, or writing or other jobs that I could do. I feel like I can also be a personal organizer. I feel that’s something I can do. I don’t know. There’s a lot of things I would like to do. I love anthropology, so maybe teaching anthropology. I love English. I was an English major. Really like grammar, even though I’m struggling, and may make many grammatical mistakes in our interview. I can see myself being a teacher. I don’t know. Really anything. I like working a lot so it was never a challenge of which job. It was just how long can I do it before falling asleep.
Do you prefer stage, TV or movie?
I don’t know. They’re all good for different things. Ready? So in a movie you have like 10 minutes to introduce people to your character and then the story starts, and then you’re off on an adventure that lasts for about an hour and a half to two hours. And then that’s it — unless there’s a sequel, that’s kind of it. So it’s one story told pretty quickly. In a TV show the audience can get to know your character over years, and you change and the character changes, and it becomes like a family, the experience of going to work. And in the theater, it’s like you’re playing all of those things but with people. So you have a whole other force that you’re dealing with that’s right there with you in the moment. And you’re all doing it together. And that adds a whole other element of surprise to it, and you have no idea what is going to happen. It’s totally unpredictable and so fun. Things can go very wrong live. I sort of combine a lot of them. I did “Peter Pan” live, which felt a lot like a hybrid between a movie, a TV show and a play because it was live, it was on television, and it was one time only. That was it. And it was about two hours, like three hours long. And that was it. Opening and closing night were the same thing. . . . And I would do it again in a heartbeat. The bottom line is I love my job. And it would be like asking you guys if you would rather write for a magazine, a newspaper or a broadcast. It’s like if I can be a journalist, then I’m happy no matter where it’s happening. That’s how I feel about acting.
Rosemary Meehan's eighth-grade class, Maria Regina School, Seaford