Michelle Williams and Laura Dern both play mothers in their latest films. In Williams’ case, she portrays the troubled, exuberant Mitzi in “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical portrait of his teenage years (his avatar, Sammy, is played by Gabriel LaBelle). In “The Son,” Dern’s Kate is desperately seeking ways — alongside her ex-husband, Peter (Hugh Jackman) — to help her depressed son, Nicholas (Zen McGrath). 

Heavy stuff, to be sure. But in the conversation between Dern and Williams, these weighty subjects are discussed with intention and with love — some of which is directed toward Spielberg, to whom both actors are bonded. For Dern, that relationship dates back to 1993’s “Jurassic Park.” And she even helped cast a key role in “The Fabelmans” by reaching out to her good pal David Lynch. 

Michelle Williams: You already gave me the chills.

Laura Dern: Because I’m making you be my friend, and said, “You have to have dinner with me.”

Williams: That’s what gave me the chills.

Dern: I just have so many questions about “The Fabelmans,” and I want to hear from you what it was like, not only working with Steven Spielberg, who we both get to share and love him so much, but playing Steven’s mother, Mitzi. I had the privilege of knowing his mom, and she was such an incredible person. The way she entered every room and the way she championed everyone in the room at all times is held so profoundly by you in your performance. So I just love that he found someone that felt so safe to take on his soul-healer mama. What an intimate thing!

Read the full conversation here as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors, presented by Amazon Studios.