Millions of fans look forward to watching Michelle Williams wend her way through the angst-ridden Dawson's Creek each week, but she's longing for a change of pace.

"I know I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but I was 16 when I signed away six years of my life to be on the series," she confesses. "I've got three more years to go and it's monotonous. It's really grueling work."

How bored is she? "While I'm waiting around for my scenes I've taken up poker, I read more than I think is healthy and I'm learning to knit." Yikes!

Williams reveals that the contract is ironclad. "What if I want to go to college? There's no chance. I'm going to be here on Dawson's Creek until I'm 22. I'm not knocking what it's done for me. It's given my career a huge boost so I guess I really can't curse it."

Williams got a new enthusiasm for acting by appearing in HBO's If These Walls Could Talk 2, starring in the "1972" segment as a lesbian/feminist college co-ed. "It was so exciting to have a chance to be in something that was about something," she says. "The opportunity to play a character in a film that you believe in comes about only rarely."

Many Dawson's fans will see Williams as they've never seen her ? entwined in an only-seen-on-cable love scene with Chloe Sevigny. "It was my first love scene, ever. And I was so much more comfortable with a woman than I ever, ever would have been with a guy," she says. "I wasn't worrying, 'How do I look?' and it made a really sort of pleasant time." ? Jeanne Wolf