Michael C. Williams Reflects on The Blair Witch Project

Hawthorne’s Michael C. Williams of The Blair Witch Project is scaring up some new projects while teaching the next generation.

It was 25 years ago this month that The Blair Witch Project premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The found-footage film took off, caused countless people to stay out of the woods at night, and made some $250 million at the box office — a stunning tally for a low-budget, independent film.

Michael C. Williams played Mike, one of the three film students who comprise the main characters. He was living in Queens at the time and working at an ice cream shop when he saw the Blair Witch casting ad in Backstage. “I was doing what actors do — working, auditioning,” Williams recalls.

A quarter-century later, he is still in show business. Williams and his wife Toni are theater co-directors at Westlake High School and Middle School in Thornwood, putting on the fall drama at the high school and a winter musical at the middle school. 12 Angry Jurors was the drama in November, and Elf Jr. will hit the stage in late January.

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Both graduated from Westlake. Living in Hawthorne, they have two kids in college.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Williams

Williams still gets acting work, including independent horror films, but his time is occupied by helping young people meet their potential: directing the Westlake plays, running his MCW Acting Studio in Hawthorne, and working as a school counselor at Scarsdale Middle School.

Williams recalls his own guidance counselor at Westlake, Donna Garr, helping him focus when his father died and his mother began battling alcohol addiction. Seeing his comfort onstage, Garr steered Williams to study theater in college when he was thinking about the military.

It was Garr that Williams reached out to in the aughts, when acting work was unsteady and he was considering a career shift. He started his master’s in school counseling in 2007 and got his first counselor job in 2010. As the Blair Witch anniversary approaches, Williams is reflecting on the film. “It really did change the trajectory of many facets of my life,” Williams says. “Twenty five years later, and we’re still talking about it.”

Michael Malone’s journalism also appears in the The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Journal News, and he writes the column, A Novel Concept, on Substack.

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