There is an obvious extra pressure that comes with an actor portraying a real person. While original fictional characters offer no real firm rules, playing someone who actually exists/once existed means that there is a firm yardstick that will be used to judge a performance – in both delivery and aesthetics. It can be a sincere challenge, which Ana de Armas can now personally attest to following her turn as Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik's upcoming film Blonde.
The Knives Out star spent two months in the back half of last year doing her best to inhabit the spirit of the Hollywood icon, and while recently speaking with The Times (via People) she opened up about one particularly hard part of the job: matching Marilyn Monroe's voice. Discussing both the training and the performance, Ana de Armas told the paper,
I tried! It only took me nine months of dialect coaching, and practicing, and some ADR sessions. It was a big torture, so exhausting. My brain was fried.
(For those who don't know, ADR stands for Additional Dialogue Recording, which is an aspect of post-production on all films that sees an actor re-record their lines in a controlled environment in aim of getting the best audio quality possible)
Based on the 2000 novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde is a film inspired by the life of Marilyn Monroe, but is a fictionalized take that operates with an intimate perspective. Ana de Armas is joined in the impressive ensemble by an awesome supporting cast that includes Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Scoot McNairy, Julianne Nicholson, Garret Dillahunt, and more. The project has been in development for a number of years, with Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain previously lined up for the lead role, but de Armas was officially cast last February, and production finally began last August.
Last fall, following the wrap of production, Ana de Armas talked about having actually cried when she first went through the hair and makeup process to play Marilyn Monroe – but getting the look down is only part of the equation. Getting the voice right was clearly a whole other deal, and it apparently it took her a long time to get it totally right, and one can imagine that was partially because of her Cuban accent, which she hasn't had to disguise in the most notable performances of her career thus far.
Blonde is now in post-production, and while it doesn't have a specific release date yet, Netflix is set to distribute it, and it will be available on the streaming service this year. It's set to be one of three Ana de Armas films released in 2021 with the James Bond adventure No Time To Die and the sexy thriller Deep Water co-starring Ben Affleck both currently scheduled to play on the big screen in the coming months.