Allison Williams: From Girls To M3GAN, 14 Essential Facts

One of the most buzzed about trailers in 2022 was for "M3GAN," a horror film about a robotic doll with murderous tendencies. The doll's creator Gemma, played by Allison Williams, is responsible for the creepy, dancing, and sometimes comical title character. The film was such a huge success that studio Blumhouse announced a sequel scheduled for 2025 with Williams scheduled to reprise her role, Variety reported. This wasn't Williams' first time dealing with on-screen creepiness, having starred in horror movies "The Perfection" and Jordan Peele's Oscar winning film "Get Out," via IMDb

The spine-tingling genre was wildly different from her breakout role as Marnie in the HBO series "Girls" alongside series creator Lena Dunham. With such a varied acting resume, Williams admitted she likes to use this to her advantage. "People come in wary of me, and that is really cool," she told Vulture. In her own words, Williams said of her character choices, "she does weird, interesting, good stuff. So I don't know which version of her we're going to get, but let's go and see."

Even coming from a family with a famous parent, Williams found a way to navigate Hollywood on her own terms. Whether holding strongly to personal beliefs or dealing with criticism against her and her family, Williams found a way to pass any obstacle in her way while continuing to entertain audiences. For fans of frights to fans of girl fights, here are 14 essential facts about Allison Williams.

What life was like for Allison Williams growing up

Allison Williams was born and raised in New Canaan, Connecticut. At a time during her upbringing, Williams' hometown was named for having the highest average family income of any city in America, likely helped by her famous dad, per the Los Angeles Times. She also grew up with her mom Jane and brother Doug, who later became a sports news reporter (via The New York Times). Some of her earliest memories as a child are from her time at preschool, when she visited the town's nature center. "It established my love for nature and animals," she told the New Canaan Advertiser

"I remember as kids we used to leave our backpacks on the sidewalk when we went to MacKenzies to buy candy. When I tell people that, they don't believe it. I felt so loved there, so special," she recalled. For education, Williams attended the New Canaan Country School, followed by Greenwich Academy, and looking back, she's grateful for all her childhood experiences. "It was the definition of a happy place," Williams said. 

The young Williams was especially interested in performing. "By the age of seven I had told them I wanted to be a movie star," she told Fashion Magazine. One of her first roles was playing the mayor of the munchkins in a school performance of the "Wizard of Oz."

How the Northeast shaped Allison Williams

When it came to higher education, Williams stayed in state and attended Yale University in nearby New Haven. Like many of Yale's famous alumni including both Bush presidents, while at the school, Williams was part of one of the school's famous secret societies. She joined the St. Elmo secret society and while it was technically the least wealthy of these special groups on campus, it put Williams in the same alumni list as John Ashcroft, a former US Attorney General, per the University Herald.

Williams graduated from Yale in 2010 with a B.A. degree in English. "I genuinely miss school –- I hope to go back someday," she told her alma mater. While she may have missed attending classes, all through school, Williams kept Hollywood in the back of her mind. "I've known I wanted to be an actress since I was really very little," she told the New York Post. According to Williams, her parents promised to "be morally and emotionally supportive of my career as an actress if I promised I wouldn't start professionally until I graduated from college." It only took her a few months after graduating from Yale until she landed the role of Marnie in "Girls."

Life for Allison Williams as the daughter of a celeb

Before she was known for her starring roles in Hollywood, Allison Williams was most well-known as simply the daughter of news anchor Brian Williams. So, when she started landing major roles in TV and movies, some thought it was simply a case of special connections through nepotism. Allison has never shied away from her famous roots and is instead open to discussing how it has been a part of her career. "It doesn't feel like a loss to admit it. If you trust your own skill, I think it becomes very simple to acknowledge," she told Wired

During an interview with Vulture, Allison further explained what her experience was like as a "nepo baby," that is, a famous child of a famous or influential parent. She also admitted the extra privilege she received as a result of having Brian as a dad. "It's just unfair. Period, end of the story, and no one's really working that hard to make it fair," Allison said. "To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn't the same – it's ludicrous," she added. While she admitted to having different opportunities than others in entertainment, she was still proud of everything she accomplished in the industry. In Allison's opinion, her family tree "doesn't take anything away from the work that I've done. It just means that it's not as fun to root for me.

Allison Williams reacts to her father's controversy

Not only was Allison Williams' dad Brian a celebrity, he was also a trusted news source as lead anchor for the "NBC Nightly News" since 2004. While he was a journalist reporting on the Iraq War prior to his lead spot, Brian detailed on NBC "Dateline" how a helicopter in front of his in-air convoy was nearly shot down. Many years later, Brian said a rocket propelled grenade struck the helicopter he was flying on, before later clarifying, "I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago." As a result, NBC suspended him for six months. "It's been tough," Allison told Seth Meyers about the incident with her family, via ET. "Obviously, toughest on my dad, who bears the full burden of responsibility for it, but one thing the experience has not done is shake my trust and belief in him as a man," she added. 

After six months without pay, Brian returned as the breaking-news anchor for MSNBC, per The Washington Post. He later became the host of the NBC network series "The 11th Hour" and in 2021, he retired to "spend time with his family." Through all of the ups and downs, Allison supported her famous father. "My dad has always been there for us 100 percent of the time, even sometimes before we knew we needed him. And so this, to be here for him, is the least we can do," she told Meyers, via People.

Details of Allison Williams' secret wedding

During most of her time on the show "Girls," Allison Williams was romantically linked to Ricky Van Veen, the co-founder of CollegeHumor. "He is an entrepreneurial kind of guy," Williams told Larry King in an interview with the late TV host. She also added that she hoped to one day have children. The two met through mutual friends and after three years together, Williams and Van Veen announced their engagement, People reported. 

In September of 2015, they held a secret wedding ceremony at the Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming. The star-studded event featured famous guests like musicians John Mayer –- who performed, Katy Perry, and Bruce Springsteen alongside the lead "Girls" actors. More than just well-known faces in the audience, Hollywood legend Tom Hanks officiated the ceremony, according to Page Six.

By the summer of 2019, the couple officially split up. Van Veen remarried a few years later to Caroline Kassie, a business partner with Chelsea Clinton, amongst his friends like Andy Cohen and Mayer again, Page Six reported. Meanwhile, Williams had also moved on and was in a relationship. "They remain on good terms, but everyone who knows them agrees that it was for the best," a source told People. "I think it's one of those things where Allison and Ricky are both with their forever people now," the source added. As of 2023, Williams has yet to publicly discuss her divorce with Van Veen, according to Town and Country Magazine.

Looking for love again with Allison Williams

The 2020 mystery thriller "Horizon Line" follows a couple, played by Allison Williams and actor Alexander Dreymon, stuck in an airborne plane after the pilot dies. The movie filmed in Africa, Ireland, and London with the story focused mainly on the high pressure scenario of the on-screen couple. "It's a complete crowd pleaser and audiences in the US and around the world will love them and the film," Adam Fogelson from the film's studio STXfilms told The Hollywood Reporter before its release. Williams and Dreymon were also pleased with their "white knuckle" thriller, Williams said in a cast interview for Golden Village Pictures

The reviews were generally disappointing, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Fogelson may have been wrong about a crowd-pleasing drama and while neither actor won any performance awards, Williams and Dreymon instead walked away from the set with romance. The two first met during production and began dating towards the end of 2019, People reported. Dreymon was born in Germany but grew up in South Dakota, according to The Carousel.

After staying together through the pandemic, the couple emerged with big news at the premiere of "M3GAN " in December 2022. "It's the ultimate fun scarefest. I'm so proud of my gorgeous fiancée," Dreymon captioned on Instagram alongside photos of him kissing Williams. It was the first time the couple revealed the engagement. According to People, Alexander, Williams, and her dad Brian were later seen on vacation together in the Bahamas.

The one thing Allison Williams refuses to do

"Girls" creator Lena Dunham has been open about her personal nudity across the series. According to Dunham, this started due to her relative anonymity when starting the show, she told Refinery29. "Girls" featured many nude scenes but you would never spot Allison Williams in her birthday suit due to a decision she made before the show even started. While in contract negotiations, she refused to sign a nudity waiver with the show's parent network HBO. This surprised even her agents. 

"I think they were just like, 'All right. She'll change her mind. She'll get swept up in the vibe of the show. Whatever. Don't make her sign it,'" Williams told ABC. As for the reason for her decision, she explained about her character, "I just wanted to give Marnie almost all of myself. But there were things that felt like they should be mine and felt like they should always be mine."

As her popularity grew, Williams stayed true to her beliefs and had no plans of changing her personal policy. "Right now, I don't see myself ever doing nude scenes," she told Fashion Magazine. According to the actor, the repercussions for taking her clothes off last much longer than the duration of the scene. "Once you do them, you can't take it back because of the way Google Images works. I also think that unfortunately nudity seems to overshadow some of the more brilliant things that are going on," she explained.

Allison Williams can belt with the best

The first taste Allison Williams had of fame was thanks to YouTube. She starred in a popular video singing lyrics from Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" to the instrumental theme song of "Mad Men" in a one-take shot, complete with a full band. More than just a fun project, the video was a way to stand out as Williams pursued a career in entertainment. "I wanted to be able to send people in the industry something different, not just my resume," she told the New Canaan Advertiser. In fact, this was one of several videos where Williams showed off her incredible singing voice. "I did two other videos. At the end of one of them I'm sitting alone at the piano, playing the song 'Neverland' from Peter Pan," she revealed. 

Fittingly, Williams was later cast to play the title character in a 2014 TV musical of the popular story called, "Peter Pan Live!" Williams explained how she was a Peter Fan from a young age. "It feels like fate. The person I'm most excited about is my grandmother. She made my Peter Pan costume when I was in the play as a child," Williams recalled.

What Allison Williams really thinks about Girls

The executive producer of "Girls," Judd Apatow, first came across Allison Williams from her viral "Mad Men" video. Apatow then invited Williams to audition for his new series and she landed the part. Lena Dunham, Williams' co-star and the show's creator, recalled how Williams was perfect for the role. "There was a great mix of brazen confidence and deep age-appropriate insecurity flickering on her face," Dunham told the New York Post. Williams played Marnie, a character she said "has a great work ethic." While her on-screen character had a drive to always work, Williams admitted that sometimes on set it felt like the opposite. 

"On a TV show there can be a lot of down time," she revealed to the New Canaan Advertiser. Williams also revealed that since it was her first big entertainment experience, she didn't understand the cultural impact of the show. "I didn't know anything else. I was 22 when I was cast on the show ... we were so young," she recalled about "Girls" to The Guardian.

While the series ended in 2017, via IMDb, Williams said she would love to be a part of a rebooted version of the series, similar to how the women from "Sex and the City" revised their characters. "Of course! I'm just so curious about what they have been up to ... I'd love to know all of them in their thirties," Williams told GQ about her character Marnie and the other girls.

From Girls to horror for Allison Williams

In what seemed like a surprising career turn, Allison Williams followed up her appearance on "Girls" with a perfect role for the actor in the 2017 film "Get Out." When first discovering the part, Williams recalled thinking, "I need to play this part because I want to nail it, I want to make her as evil as possible," she told GQ. She indeed nailed the part and this launched her trajectory into the horror genre. 

"I love making them. I find that this genre is so much fun. I love the characters, I love the story. I love that the genre can kind of get mixed up and played with. I love that there can be humor," she told Today. While she said she had a blast watching her film "M3GAN" in theaters, Williams admitted that she's not emotionless when it comes to viewing the horror genre. "I have to get really emotionally prepared to watch it. I get so scared super easily," Williams explained, noting that sinister musical scores especially creep her out. 

Though she said it is less scary to make a horror movie than to watch the final product, Williams confessed that moments on set still freaked her out on occasion. "Whether it was the animatronic puppet or Amie Donald in her hellish mask, every version [of M3gan] was so scary that it was not hard to inject fear into my performance," she told Time.

Life as a mother for Allison Williams

In 2021, Allison Williams and her partner Alexander Dreymon welcomed their first child together, son Arlo. Similar to her relationship with Dreymon, Williams has been rather quiet with details about this major moment in growing her family. "They are both private people individually, and they made the decision to keep this happy news to just a small circle of family and friends but they're over the moon," a source close to the couple told People. When reflecting on what it was like to now become a mother, Williams admitted that it started a new chapter in her life. "When people say it changes everything they're not being glib, it literally changes everything," she told The Guardian about the birth of her son. 

In the film "M3GAN," Williams portrays a character who becomes a mother. Showing how art can imitate real life, the actor welcomed her child during production of the horror film or as she explained, her "status as a mom" changed, per Town and Country Magazine. "I became a mom, and that made it all much more interesting, because that's Gemma's whole arc," Williams explained. During press events for the film, Williams started to reveal more about her baby boy. "He is adorable. I'm very proud. I get weird and shy when I talk about it because it's so new, but yeah, I'm obsessed with him," she told Today. "It's like all I think about," she added.

Allison Williams is a stylish actor

For her time in the spotlight, Allison Williams seems to have mastered her personal style ranging from cozy looks to Hollywood glamor. When appearing on the runway, Williams has worn some exquisite gowns. Three of her favorite designers for these events are American designers Donna Karan (famous for her brand DKNY) and Ralph Lauren, plus Spice Girl turned designer and beauty mogul Victoria Beckham, Williams told Fashion Magazine. When it came to her wedding with Ricky Van Veen, Williams wore a stunning lace dress from Oscar de la Renta custom designed by the brand's creative director Peter Copping, according to Vogue.

In 2016, Williams worked with director David O. Russell to star in a short film for the Italian luxury house Prada. The black and white visuals featured Williams with platinum blonde hair alongside fellow actors Kuoth Wiel and Freida Pinto (via Vogue).

Not to say that Williams is always dressed for an Oscar moment, like when she announced the 2023 Academy Award nominees, per WWD. "My weekend look is the same as always — jeans, a good pair of boots, a sweater, and my scarves! I would say my style is pretty easy and classic," she told Harper's Bazaar. When it comes to accessories, Williams likes to wear flats but admitted she also has a sweet spot for luxury heels from Manolo Blahnik. The actor is also unafraid to wear heels on the streets of New York, as spotted by the Daily Mail.

The charitable side of Allison Williams

Starting from a young age, Allison Williams learned to give back to her community through charitable actions. Perhaps the closest mission to her heart is helping Horizons National, an organization dedicated to creating equal opportunities for children. In fact, the organization was started in Williams' hometown in Connecticut and multiple generations in her family helped Horizons National. "I've always been involved with it," Williams told Refinery29. "My mother was always involved. My grandmother was involved. It's something I grew up into," the actor added. Williams' grandmother was a teacher for the program and her mom Jane is on the Horizons National Founders Council. 

For Williams, she would volunteer in person while also posting about the cause on her social media accounts. "I try to come up with creative ways to introduce my followers to what Horizons is and what it does and it also raises money for our continuous expansion all over the country," Williams told People about helping the organization. She also admitted that her charitable work is a serious commitment but, in her opinion, worth the effort. "It's a total labor of love. It's a beast, but I absolutely love it," she explained. One particular campaign that Williams worked on was called 10 Days of Giving, where she worked with brands like Keds to sell items at a discount, with proceeds then going to the organization. She said this was all worth it to help children "who need a little extra boost."

How Allison Williams handles fame

While she saw first-hand what life in the spotlight is like from her dad, Allison Williams admitted there was still a learning curve when becoming a celebrity herself. For example, she strived to keep a rather pristine image at all times to be ready for any encounters with paparazzi. "I'm always aware whether my clothes are falling off or not. I rarely go out to clubs or anything, but I can't imagine anything would really slip by me," she told the New York Post. "I think I'm as ready for [being in the public eye] as I can be," Williams said in 2011 on the verge of her breakout role in "Girls." 

As she became a more seasoned veteran in entertainment, Williams seemed to find a healthy balance of work and personal time. For her personal health, Williams told Harper's Bazaar that she always makes time for medical visits and therapy. When it comes to her day job, Williams explained to Wired that she considered press interviews as the final duty when creating a film. Though, looking back, the actor confessed that the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to reevaluate how she spent her time. "That was sort of a personal life transition in addition to the world slowing down because of the pandemic," Williams told The Hollywood Reporter. "So now it feels like my job is my job rather than my life, and I think that's a really healthy transition," she added.