Blonde Director Talks ‘All Kinds Of Rules’ He Had To Keep Ana De Armas Looking More Like Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Transforming any actor for a biopic is hard work. Typically, they are turning into an icon of yesteryear that is beloved by many. This is very true for Ana de Armas who plays the Old Hollywood star, Marilyn Monroe, in the film Blonde. Andrew Dominik, who directed the film, recently talked about everything they did to make de Armas look like Monroe, and it goes beyond just the actress's physical transformation. 

There are so many photos of Monroe that have lived in the zeitgeist for decades, I’d imagine recreating some of Monroe’s most iconic images, outfits and scenes was an extremely difficult and daunting task. In an interview with BFI Dominik explained all the rules they had on set to keep de Armas looking like Monroe. 

We had all kinds of rules. Ana looks more like Marilyn if you have the camera up high. And if you’ve got a 50mm lens, her face – it’s more like Marilyn’s. We were always trying to make her look like specific images of Marilyn. It’s well thought-out. I’m not interested in reality, I’m interested in the images. So I selected every image of Marilyn I could find and then tried to stage scenes around those images. You’re constantly referring to them.

De Armas’ transformation is stunning.  When her casting received backlash Marilyn Monroe's estate defended the choice to put de Armas in the role based on seeing her in the trailer. The actress has opened up about seeing her transformation for the first time, describing it as “very emotional.” De Armas also noted that seeing herself made it feel like Monroe “was back.” 

The Knives Out actress did not just transform into Monroe, de Armas had to play her throughout her career. This meant she had to change her performance slightly to fit the time they were filming. Dominik explained: 

I mean, she understood that there’s two jobs: one is the anthropological, which is that they look and sound like this. It’s showing people photographs and saying, ‘How can we make her look like this?’ Then Ana is trying to get her speech patterns, her mannerisms. And a lot of that changed over the years. When [Monroe] started out she would stress every syllable. By the time she’s got [acting coach Lee] Strasberg and been introduced to the Method, it’s a different style of acting. In the middle, you also have that 1950s cartoonish presentational thing. Then there’s a handful of interviews. So Ana is taking all that stuff.

Along with this information, we’ve learned that de Armas’ transformation in terms of hair and makeup also took a ton of time and effort. The heads of the makeup and hair departments said they created over 100 looks for de Armas and about 50 to 60 of them made it into the film. It’s for sure an impressive feat to transform this actress into such a popular Old Hollywood star and to create so many variations of her. 

Of the movies on the 2022 schedule, Blonde has been a big point of discussion. Between her transformation and the film itself, critics have weighed in with lots of thoughts, both good and bad about the Netflix movie. To see the physical and technical transformation of de Armas into Monroe, you can watch Blonde with a Netflix subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.