‘The Fabelmans’ Cast and Character Guide: Who’s Who in the Michelle Williams Film

The Fabelmans is one of the most anticipated movies of the holiday release season. It’s the latest from legendary director Steven Spielberg, coming off his critically-praised take on West Side Story.

The promotion of The Fabelmans has been curious, though. Most of the ad spots are intentionally vague — shots of a nostalgic past, the recurring imagery of a camera… So what is the Michelle Williams-led film about, and who else stars in Spielberg’s latest?

What is ‘The Fabelmans’ about?

The Fabelmans is a fictionalized take on Spielberg’s real-life childhood. Young Sammy Fabelman, the famed director’s fictional stand-in, turns his camera toward his own family. Their often dysfunctional lives, seen through a camera lens, help Fabelman develop his artistic sensibilities into a real, serious craft.

The project gestated for years as Spielberg’s real-life parents urged him to write it. But the Jaws director found the subject matter difficult to tackle. Even though his divorced parents reconnected later in life and became friendly again, Spielberg felt he had to tread carefully with the personal subject matter. 

The project became somewhat legendary. Would it ever get made, or would Spielberg retire without creating his potential magnum opus? Thankfully, the long wait ended on Thanksgiving this year when The Fabelmans finally saw its wide theatrical release.

Who stars in ‘The Fabelmans’?

The cast and Steven Spielberg post for a photo at The Fabelmans premiere
(L-R) Paul Dano, Mateo Zoryna Francis-DeFord, Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Seth Rogen, Steven Spielberg, and Chloe East at The Fabelmans premiere | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

Michelle Williams and Paul Dano are the heart of The Fabelmans. They play Mitzi and Burt Fabelman, respectively. According to What to Watch, their tumultuous marriage and mixed feelings about their son’s obsession with film drive the film.

Said son, Sammy Fabelman, is Spielberg’s self-insert. He’s played by Gabriel LaBelle. Seth Rogen plays Benny Lowey, a close family friend who starts spending more time with Mitzi. 

The movie also brings in longtime character actor Judd Hirsch as the colorful Boris Schildkraut, Sammy’s colorful great uncle who happens to have experience in the film industry. The film even fits in a memorable cameo by director David Lynch, a close friend of Spielberg’s. Going by the critical response to The Fabelmans, there could be some major awards season buzz for this cast.

What are the actors in ‘The Fabelmans’ known for?

Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Judd Hirsch, and Seth Rogen… That stacked Fabelmans cast comes with a great deal of experience in film and TV, according to IMDb. Williams broke out on the teen drama series Dawson’s Creek, then grew into a four-time Academy Award-nominated actor.

Her counterpart in The Fabelmans, Dano, cut his teeth on independent films like Little Miss Sunshine before making his name on the historical fiction epic There Will Be Blood. Most recently, he played The Riddler in The Batman.

LaBelle, a relative newcomer at 20 years old, got his start on television much as Williams did. He appeared on the CW drama iZombie. More recently, his work in the crime drama American Gigolo has garnered critical praise. The Fabelmans could be his breakout role.

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Hirsch has been in more films and TV shows than likely he could remember. The veteran actor, noted for his impressive range, first broke out in the sitcom Taxi in the 1970s. In film, he has been in major releases like Ordinary PeopleIndependence Day, and Uncut Gems.

Rogen is a surprising choice for a pivotal dramatic role in The Fabelmans, given his history of acting almost exclusively in comedies. But comedians have a knack for growing into dramatic roles, and it appears this is Rogen’s moment to put that to the test.

And Lynch, of course, is the famed director of surreal classics like Blue Velvet and Lost Highway. His cameo is sure to be loved by film aficionados, and his friendship with Spielberg helped him land the role. But, as anyone who has seen Twin Peaks can attest, his old-timey manner of speaking and striking throwback appearance make him a perfect fit for the world of The Fabelmans.