When Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas took on the role of Norma Jeane Mortenson (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe), she knew it was a huge responsibility. Netflix’s controversial NC-17 rated movie Blonde presents a deeper meaning behind the story of the Blonde Bombshell we all recognize on screen in learning about the inner demons she faced. De Armas and the crew of Blonde knew they would feel better taking on the project if they asked Marilyn Monroe herself for permission to tell her story.
The source material of Blonde came from Joyce Carol Oates’ historical fiction film of the Some Like it Hot actress with a detailed account of what the iconic actress must have gone through when the spotlight wasn’t on her. Monroe’s untimely death came in 1962 from a mysterious overdose, and in an interview from AnOther Magazine, de Armas reveal she and her Blonde crew visited Westwood Village Memorial Park where the Hollywood starlet is buried before filming started.
Norma Jeane Mortenson was the product of a traumatic childhood moving from foster home to foster home due to her mother’s mental illness struggles. She also never got to meet her father or know who he was. Marilyn Monroe was an alter ego that Hollywood created for her that everyone saw. But like de Armas mentioned in her interview, the heart of the movie was looking for her absent father and hoping of all people that he would find her.
Before you watch the movie, it’s important for audiences to keep in mind that what you see in Blonde is not a 100% accurate portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. The 34-year-old actress said that Blonde is fiction with no proof the inner turmoil Marilyn Monroe went through. While other traditional biopics state the actress’s chronological dates and milestones, this movie gives a representation of what could have been going on in the pop culture icon’s head.
Ana de Armas made sure to do her homework when she played Norma Jeane Mortenson and felt like her character stayed with her the whole time. She had moments of insecurity preparing for the role in terms of voice, accent, choreography, and working with American actors who knew Marilyn Monroe. She never would have thought she’d play the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress as the Cuban actors she grew up to and looked up to included Daisy Granados, Isabel Santos, and Verónica Lynn. But she accepted the role of Marilyn Monroe because she loved a challenge and felt she had the emotional range to connect with the role.
De Armas spent months working with a dialogue coach to perfect the way Monroe sounded and her facial expressions when she did talk. This critically- acclaimed actress also was introduced to a 750-page bible of Monroe’s photographs that documented every emotion that director Andrew Dominik wanted to capture. In order to perfectly capture Marilyn Monroe’s presence, de Armas would watch her movies hundreds of times to be able to recreate the performances from her iconic movies. She even found it hard to unplug from the Blonde Bombshell in her dreams or even simply doing the dishes. All the more reason why this new role will remain memorable to the No Time to Die actress no matter how many years later it is.
While people who hadn’t even watched the movie had their share of backlash for the casting choice of Marilyn Monroe, the critics could help but rave about Ana de Armas. They would say she did a great job mimicking Monroe’s “half-breathless style of speaking” and being able to show the wounds inflicted on her through her voice. At its world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, Andrew Dominik’s historical drama received a fourteen minute standing ovation. Hopefully, Blonde will give audiences a glimpse into what could have gone into the mind of a 1950s Hollywood actress we all thought we knew.
Considering Ana de Armas and the Blonde crew felt the need for Marilyn Monroe’s blessing before filming started, it shows they want to tell her story right and with heart. You have the chance to see Blonde on your Netflix subscription on September 28th.
Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.
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