Michelle Williams will be feted as an honorary Irishwoman at this year’s annual “Oscar Wilde: Honoring the Irish in Film” event, to be held in Santa Monica, Calif., three days before the Academy Awards.
The US-Ireland Alliance — a nonprofit organization based in Arlington that focuses on consolidating the relationship between Americans and the Irish — has previously conferred “honorary Irish” titles on Hollywood notables like James L. Brooks, J.J. Abrams and Paul Rudd.
But Williams will be the first honorary Irishwoman and possibly, if the awards season continues to progress as anticipated, the first Oscar Wilde honoree who is also an Oscar nominee in the same year. Additional honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.
Now let’s address the obvious question: What makes Williams Irish?
Admittedly, not much — hence the “honorary” part of her title. Williams was born in Montana and later moved to San Diego, where she spent her adolescent years. But the US-Ireland Alliance notes in its press release that Marilyn Monroe — who Williams portrays in “My Week With Marilyn” — may have some Emerald Isle in her.
“Her mother’s last name was Hogan, the Irish word for young,” the Alliance explains in the release, referring to Monroe. “The family line goes back to Kentucky and references can be found suggesting those ancestors were in the US at least as far back as the 1700s, with references to their forebears being from Ireland.”
The press release also notes that Williams’s agent is Hylda Queally — a genuinely Irish woman who reps some of Hollywood’s finest actresses, including Kate Winslet, Jessica Chastain and Marion Cotillard, and who was an honoree at the Oscar Wilde event in 2009. She is also now a member of the organization’s advisory board. That may have helped, too.
While not as buzzy as other pre-Academy Award parties, the Oscar Wilde gala has gotten glitzier in recent years. Two years ago, Tom Cruise showed up to present Abrams with his honorary Irishman award. Last year, Julia Roberts did the honors for Rudd at the event, which was attended by Jon Hamm, Orlando Bloom and Molly Ringwald.