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“These films have sort of offered her a chance to work while just being able to blend into the world in a way that becomes probably more difficult,” says Ms. Reichardt.

Ms. Reichardt said Miss Williams has been sending her iPhone photos of the craft service table from her current film - Sam Raimi’s “Wizard of Oz” prequel, “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” in which Miss Williams plays Glinda the Good Witch - exclaiming, “We could make a whole movie with this!”

Miss Williams says she’s long had an interest “in naturalism, in no shine on anything, no polish, no veneer …”

“What I’ve hoped for is to have as little separation between the character that I’m playing and the people in the audience - nothing that made the character feel out of reach,” the actress says. ” ‘Wendy and Lucy’ … definitely that was what I was ultimately aiming for.”

Whereas she rolled out of bed for “Wendy and Lucy,” “My Week With Marilyn” required three hours of hair and makeup every morning.

“In the film, there’s a sort of contrast between the American interior, psychological way of working, and the English external, theatrical way of working,” says director Simon Curtis. “But in fact, Michelle came at the character of Marilyn in both directions.”

Asked when it was that she realized she wanted to act, Miss Williams says, “That’s a decision that I make again and again and again.” She lists a series of “mile-marker moments”: doing her first English accent, finding camaraderie on the set of “Station Agent,” making “Wendy and Lucy,” working with Mr. Gosling.

Of the less certain times, she says, biting her lip, “Some of them I would hate to bring up.” The first Oscar nomination, she acknowledges, “stymied me somehow … I felt like people were watching. I felt like there was pressure where there used to be none.”

People are still watching Miss Williams, but it doesn’t seem to bother her much anymore.

“I’ve noticed that now, at 31, my ideas about scenes or dialogue or moments, they come faster,” she says. “And I find that I’m enjoying it and that that’s not hampering my work, so maybe it doesn’t have to be as hard as I was making it out to be for so many years.”