New Netflix production Blonde flirts with fantasy – reimagining the life of icon and actress Marilyn Monroe…
Blonde is bold, and Blonde is big… but, Blonde is no biopic. Based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, new Netflix production Blonde flirts with fantasy. The film chooses to reimagine the life of icon and actress Marilyn Monroe, examining the schism between her public and private selves.
Produced in part by Brad Pitt and starring Ana de Armas and Adrien Brody (casted as “The Playwright” – Mr Miller, to Marilyn’s love life experts) Blonde has been hotly anticipated since rumours of its development in 2019. The film portrays de Armas as Marilyn as she evolves through a volatile childhood – back when she was still known as Norma Jean – through her rise to stardom and romantic entanglements.
Glossy productions about the tragic star are nothing new – Marilyn has been an inspiration to filmmakers, screenwriters, and artists, for decades. Her cultural importance has endured, and so much has been published about why that is – suggestions include: her tragic death, her star quality, her representation of womanhood… Shows, movies, programmes, books and opinion pieces have been churned out endlessly – almost, exhaustingly – on our continuing fascination with her, and her seemingly endless relevance with current times.
In fact, we are so obsessed with the blonde Hollywood bombshell, Blonde is not even the only Marilyn Monroe-based Netflix production available to watch on the streaming service. If you finish Blonde and want more about Marilyn, try docu-series The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, featuring a deep-dive into her life. The serious series delves into archival footage and unseen interviews with the model, actress, and icon, opening up her story 60 years after her death.
For a little more theatre and a little less fact, Blonde takes an unconventional trip away from recorded history to imaginative story-telling, about one of the most closely-recorded and investigated celebrity lives ever. The film, while recreating iconic moments from Monroe’s life and career – including her show-stopping performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Howard Hawks’s 1953 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – takes dramatic license with her life, featuring characters who are based on historical figures as well as amalgams of people she might have known.
Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, the film, led by de Armas and Brody, also features a strong supporting cast: Bobby Cannavale, Julianne Nicholson, Xavier Samuel and Evan Williams.
Convincing Ana – what drew its lead to the project?
Rapidly rising star Ana de Armas (star of Knives Out, The Gray Man, and No Time to Die) thought Dominik’s script would present the audience with a new way to experience Marilyn. “Andrew’s ambitions were very clear from the start — to present a version of Marilyn Monroe’s life through her lens,” she told Netflix Queue. “He wanted the world to experience what it actually felt like to not only be Marilyn, but also Norma Jean. I found that to be the most daring, unapologetic, and feminist take on her story that I had ever seen.”
Behind the scenes
De Armas’s commitment to Blonde was tireless — she spent between two-and-a-half to three hours in hair and makeup each morning of the film’s 47-day shoot before arriving on set to work through a series of emotionally wrenching scenes. Her fearless, multifaceted performance consistently impressed Dominik. “I was really lucky to have Ana because she could just do anything,” Dominik said to Netflix Queue. “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.”
Blonde is released in Ireland on September 28 2022. Catch it on Netflix. All photographs courtesy of Netflix.