Ana de Armas can’t remember a time in her life when Marilyn Monroe was not present.
As a girl raised in Cuba, de Armas watched Monroe’s films on television. “I didn’t know at that age she was Marilyn Monroe,” the 34-year-old actress tells EW. When she moved to Madrid at the age of 18 and began to study films, she realized that the beautiful woman she fell in love with as a child was Monroe.
Now, de Armas is playing the legend, or more accurately, she’s portraying Norma Jean Mortensen, the real woman behind Netflix’s alter ego Marilyn Monroe. White. The film is in theaters now (it hits Netflix on September 28), but in early whispers of the project, it has generated controversy amidst polarized opinion. Adding fuel to the fire: White Iconoclastic is based on a novel by author Joyce Carol Oates, not a traditional nonfiction biographical work.
At this point, de Armas ranged from her criticisms on Marilyn’s voice (which sometimes still hints at her Cuban accent), to a review of her questioning of the film’s continued exploitation of a woman who herself was her. Was exploited for erotic figure, has heard it all. ,
De Armas is topless for a significant portion of the film’s nearly three-hour running time, and his Marilyn faces a variety of outrage: Fox studio head Daryl F. Zank, a forced abortion (complete with a camera shot from within her vagina), Monroe’s President John F. An immaculate illustration of Kennedy giving a blowjob from close range.
These are huge questions of an actress, who is required to have a level of vulnerability and some people are asked to give. But de Armas is adamant that there was only one way out. Unlike Monroe’s version of the film, she says she felt completely in control of each of those scenes.
“It’s hard for people to see [those scenes] compared to making them for me, because I understood what I was going through and I felt very safe and secure,” says de Armas. “I didn’t feel exploited because I was in control. I took that decision. I knew which film I was doing. I had faith in my director. I felt like I was in a safe environment. We had hundreds of conversations about these scenes. Everyone felt a deep respect for the film we were making. And in that sense, I had no fear. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, even though those were really difficult scenes.”
The blowjob scene in particular is likely to raise eyebrows—it’s already garnered a rare NC-17 rating for the film—but De Armas tackles it as though it were with Monroe’s version of the story. There was a piece they were telling. For him, it was important to convey the message that he and writer-director Andrew Dominic set out to give audiences a sense of the tragic chaos. “We really only did two scenes of that scene,” she recalls. “We had an intimacy coordinator with us all the time, and she was very helpful. But I wouldn’t even say these scenes were any more difficult than any other scene. It was a part of the whole story. I knew that really What a shot was about to happen. I knew exactly what was being seen, what was not being seen, and felt it was the right thing to do.”
Matt Kennedy / Netflix ‘Blonde’ depicts the life of Marilyn Monroe as a violent fever dream.
In addition to the more obvious aspects of the film, de Armas was tasked with creating a believable version of Hollywood star Monroe and stripping her of her essence as Norma Jean. She spent nine months researching, watching movies, working with a dialect coach, and chatting with Dominic about her version of the blonde bombshell.
One thing White What is not taken into account is how much Monroe himself used that fabricated image to gain an advantage. Instead, the film traps an actor in a web of his own making. “People are ignoring the woman who was beneath the character,” reflects de Armas. “This character was created, and Norma Jean was completely trapped inside her.”
A special director’s note from Dominic helped de Armas find his way through the gauntlet. “Andrew told me that I had to choose a moment in the film where I could show anger and rage,” De Armas explained. “The rest of the movie I wasn’t allowed to use her. She couldn’t stand it — she wasn’t in my survival kit. She was the unwanted child and didn’t love for so long, she just couldn’t do it.” . “
Netflix Ana de Armas in ‘Blonde’.
“Something happened inside of me that I understood, that if you can’t do that – which is very healthy to be angry and push back – then you have to be really good at other things and survive and try and Have to figure out a way to protect myself,” she adds. “It was a moment to understand how much damage and how difficult it must be for someone to live that kind of life, without a defense mechanism, under so much pressure and expectations.”
Monroe’s inner workings fascinated de Armas, and not the idea of replicating a movie star, although there were plenty of opportunities. (Dominique created a production bible of about 700 images of Monroe, some of which de Armas recreated for the film along with Monroe’s most famous cinematic moments.)
“Her voice changes a lot throughout the years,” notes de Armas. “She stammered and felt insecure. She wanted to look more advanced and well-studied and smart. You watch one movie and it’s like, and then you watch another, it feels completely different. I really wanted her voice in the re-creation, but the voice we’re familiar with is the onscreen voice. I heard a lot of audio where she doesn’t talk at all. Her voice is more hoarse – she’s in a different way Laughs way.”
“She was more relaxed because she wasn’t Marilyn,” d’Armas says. “I really wanted to respect that. There are so many different qualities to someone’s voice, and trying to imitate Marilyn’s voice in a movie that’s mostly about Norma Jean was going to be restrictive. I I like to move people and do something real, rather than just imitate something.”
Netflix Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde’
Much has already been written about this film and de Armas’ performance in it, but one thing she says she wants to set the record straight is reports that she was “haunted” by Monroe.
The actor says it was more a feeling of Monroe’s presence being felt. “We went to his place,” she says. “We went to her apartment, drove her car, went to her house — she’s all over L.A. You go to restaurants and Marilyn’s table is there. She’s everywhere. It’s impossible not to feel something big with you.” [in those moments],
De Armas says she was determined to give every ounce of herself White Demonstrate in an effort to make something true. “That openness goes into everything,” she says. “You are open not only to giving, but to receiving and being perceptive.”
Speaking of Marilyn Monroe—something D’Armas has done a lot—she could easily be talking about her own high-wire act, and the scrutiny it received.
“It’s unfair for someone to be put in the position of being an icon,” says de Armas. “People are less forgiving of things because you have to be perfect, and you represent this ideal of something that people want to be. It’s very hard to change that narrative.”