Hollywood’s glamorous life might look envious to an outsider – but many who grappled with its woes have failed to come out stronger. One such icon was the 60s iconic star, Marilyn Monroe. The 60s popular star saw the highs of fame and ultimately struggled to stay afloat despite constant help.
Now, a film inspired by her life is coming to Netflix in September. Blonde stars Cuban actor Ana De Armas as Monroe. With its first trailer now unveiled, there’s no doubt that no better actor could essay the icon as brilliantly as De Armas. Based on the best-selling novel by Joyce Carol Oates and a longtime passion project for writer-director Andrew Dominik, Blonde paints a fictional portrait of the life of the model, actress, and singer, chronicling her journey from Norma Jeane Baker, abused daughter of a single mother, to the most sought-after celebrity in the world.
“I had to go bald every day, because with the blonde wigs,” De Armas first spoke about portraying the troubled Hollywood icon with Grazia. “Marilyn went through different shades of blonde from golden to really platinum, so for these wigs that are beautifully made, you can’t have anything dark underneath, so we had to make a bald cap every single day from my forehead to [around] my whole head,” she explained to the publication. “It was like, three and a half hours every day of makeup. I think I actually cried the first time I saw [the wigs] on. Probably because I was terrified. But, I’m so proud.”
Talking further on playing Monroe, de Armas added, “It felt incredible, it felt… also very exhausting. It was a lot of hard work to play her in what I think was a really honest way of portraying her.” She went on to add, “Her life was not simple, because you really have to go deep into that period and what happened to her and her story and who she was, and maybe you know some of her story, but it was very intense.”
Sharing how the director of the much-anticipated project, instantly knew he had found Monroe in her, the Knives Out actor commented, “I only had to audition for Marilyn once and Andrew said ‘It’s you,’ but I had to audition for everyone else. The producers. The money people. I always have people I needed to convince. But I knew I could do it. Playing Marilyn was ground-breaking. A Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe. I wanted it so badly.”
Divulging into what Dominik’s vision for Blonde was, De Armas told the publication, “Andrew’s ambitions were very clear from the start — to present a version of Marilyn Monroe’s life through her lens.” She added, “He wanted the world to experience what it actually felt like to not only be Marilyn, but also Norma Jeane. I found that to be the most daring, unapologetic, and feminist take on her story that I had ever seen.”
Imagining what might have occurred behind closed doors gave Dominik the opportunity to delve into Monroe’s inner psyche. “She’s deeply traumatised and that trauma necessitates a split between a public self and a private self, which is the story of everyone, but with a famous person, that often plays out publicly, in ways that may cause additional trauma,” Dominik shared. “The film’s very much concerned with the relationship with herself and with this other persona, Marilyn, which is both her armour and the thing that is threatening to consume her.”
De Armas went on to remark, “We worked on this film for hours, every single day for almost a year. I read Joyce’s novel, studied hundreds of photographs, videos, audio recordings, films — anything I could get my hands on. Every scene is inspired by an existing photograph.” She recalled, “We’d pore over every detail in the photo and debate what was happening in it. The first question was always, ‘What was Norma Jeane feeling here?’ We wanted to tell the human side of her story. Fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma the most invisible.”
The No Time To Die star then commented, “Our movie is not linear or conventional; it is meant to be a sensorial and emotional experience. The film moves along with her feelings and her experiences. There are moments when we are inside of her body and mind, and this will give the audience an opportunity to experience what it was like to be Norma and Marilyn at the same time.”
Her fearless, multifaceted performance consistently impressed Dominik. “I was really lucky to have Ana because she could just do anything,” Dominik said. “She was so good. She would get there so quickly. Her feelings were just so under her skin, and anything I said to her, she really understood. The scenes would always just come to life because Ana was there. The film is sincere. It’s made with love. It’s made with good intentions. But it’s full of rage at the same time.”
Adding on, he said, “I seem to get myself in these situations where people regard me as provocative, but it’s never what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to say it as clearly as I can. My ambition is to make you fall in love with Marilyn.”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, De Armas shared she also identifies with Monroe in a more profound way. “You see that famous photo of her and she is smiling in the moment, but that’s just a slice of what she was really going through at the time,” she told the outlet. “I have never worked more closely with a director than I worked with Andrew. Yes, I have had collaborative relationships, but to get phone calls at midnight because he has an idea and he can’t sleep and all of a sudden you can’t sleep for the same reason…”
Jamie Lee Curtis, too, added his two cents on De Armas playing Marilyn. “I remember when she showed me a video of her screen tests for Blonde,” said Curtis, whose father starred with Monroe in Some Like It Hot. “I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.”
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