Why People Are Talking About Netflix’s Controversial Marilyn Monroe Biopic

The first trailer has launched for Blonde, Netflix’s controversial biopic of Marilyn Monroe. It doesn’t give away much about the plot of the film, but the trailer does offer a first glimpse of Ana de Armas’ performance as Marilyn Monroe. The film spent years in development hell, with multiple actresses being cast before, Ana de Armas finally landed the role of the iconic actress.

The film stars Ana de Armas as the tragic American actress and is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.

The movie is set to be one of the more raw and revealing looks at the late actress’s life and career. Monroe starred in more than 30 films until her tragic death in 1962 and has been a fixture of classic American cinema ever since. The NC-17 rating has set tongue wagging, with many people worry it will exploit a woman who dealt with so much trauma in her short life.

So what is Blonde, and why is everyone talking about?

9 What Is Blonde About?

Blonde is a “boldly reimagined private story of the world’s most famous sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe,” according to Netflix’s official synopsis. “The film is a fictional portrait of the model, actress and singer during the ’50s and ’60s, told through the modern lens of celebrity culture.”

The film’s director, Andrew Dominik, wants audiences to know that this is a fictional portrait of the iconic actress. He has revealed that Blonde’s narrative is Monroe’s perspective on the world, rather than a slavish biopic treatment.

The film centers around the concept of Marilyn Monroe splitting her private and public self and explores the disconnect between the two. “On [the] simplest level,’ says Dominik, “it’s about an unwanted child who becomes the most wanted person in the world and can’t deal with all of that desire coming at them.”


8 Famous Director’s Passion Project

Blonde has been written and directed by Andrew Dominik, best known for 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In production hell, this biopic has been his passion project for many years.

He also directed two episodes of Netflix’s psychological crime thriller series Mindhunter and One More Time with Feeling, a documentary chronicling the recording of Skeleton Tree, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ sixteenth studio album.

Related: Shocking Details Revealed In The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes

“Andrew’s ambitions were very clear from the start—to present a version of Marilyn Monroe’s life through her lens,” lead actress Ana de Armas 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.”

7 What’s Up With Blonde’s NC-17 Rating?

“There’s something in it to offend everyone,” Dominik has said about Blonde which has achieved a rare NC-17 rating, which is awarded to films with highly graphic content, “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f****** audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”

Related: What Michelle Williams Really Feels About Playing Marilyn Monroe

The director was surprised at this adult rating. “It’s not like depictions of happy sexuality,” he said earlier this year. “It’s depictions of situations that are ambiguous. And Americans are really strange when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think? I don’t know why. They make more porn than anyone else in the world.”

It was also rumored that Netflix was “absolutely horrified” by the sexually graphic final cut of the film. There was apparently imagery that was too strong and graphic, especially considering it is depicting an actress who suffered from abuse throughout her life

6 Netflix’s Blonde Is Based On A Novel

Blonde is an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s 2000 bestseller about Marilyn Monroe’s inner life. It was already the basis for a 2001 made-for-television film starring Poppy Montgomery. The New York Times describes the novel as ‘part Gothic, part kaleidoscopic novel of ideas, part lurid celebrity potboiler’.

When sharing her thoughts on the rough cut of the film she saw, which is said to include a scene depicting sexual assault, Oates tweeted that it was “startling, brilliant, very disturbing and perhaps most surprisingly an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation”.

5 Why Blonde Has A Dark Tone

By the sounds of it, Blonde will have a sad and somber tone. Although it will show the glamour of old Hollywood, the main focus will be the trauma that followed Marilyn Monroe through her career.

“She’s deeply traumatized, and that trauma necessitates a split between a public self and a private self, which is the story of everyone, but with a famous person, that often plays out publicly, in ways that may cause additional trauma,” Dominik has explained. “The film’s very much concerned with the relationship with herself and with this other persona, Marilyn, which is both her armor and the thing that is threatening to consume her.”

4 Blonde Uses An Experimental Narrative

De Armas explained to Netflix Queue that the film will be more experimental than what most people will probably expect.

“Our movie is not linear or conventional; it is meant to be a sensorial and emotional experience,” the 34-year-old actress explained. “The film moves along with her feelings and her experiences. There are moments when we are inside of her body and mind, and this will give the audience an opportunity to experience what it was like to be Norma and Marilyn at the same time.”

3 Why Blonde Took So Long To Come Out

Andrew Dominik, who is also credited as the screenwriter of Blonde, started developing the project over a decade ago in 2010. He attributed the many delays in production partly due to financing. “It’s just a question of how much money I can get to make the film. And I really want to make that movie. I’ve been working on it for years.”

The iconic role as Marilyn Monroe was originally set to be played by Naomi Watts when the project started development in 2010 before Jessica Chastain took over.

And at last, No Time To Die actress Ana de Armas was finally cast.

2 How Ana De Armas Landed Marilyn Monroe’s Role In Blonde

Ana De Armas, who also starred in Knives Out, has called it “the most intense work” she has ever done. The Cuban star has spoken to the press about the difficulty she had perfecting the iconic Marilyn accent.

She had over nine months of dialect coaching. “I’m not going to let anybody or anything tell me I cannot dream of playing Marilyn Monroe,” she told The Times.

Related: ‘Blonde’: Netflix Reportedly Dubbed Over Ana De Armas For Not Sounding Like Marilyn Monroe

“I read everything I could about Marilyn,” de Armas told Vanity Fair. “It wasn’t just about transforming physically to look the part, it was about understanding her emotional life, how intelligent she was, and how fragile.”

The actress’s own dog, Elvis, plays Monroe’s pooch, Mafia, in the movie.

1 Blonde’s All Star Cast

Alongside Ana de Armas, The Pianist actor Adrien Brody will star as playwright and screenwriter Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe’s third and final husband. Bobby Cannavale plays Joe DiMaggio, iconic Yankees center fielder and Marilyn’s second husband.

Other notable cast members are Mare of Easttown‘s Julianne Nicholson as Monroe’s mother Gladys, and Caspar Phillipson as John F. Kennedy (he also played him in 2016’s Jackie).

The controversial biopic will hit the Netflix globally on September 23, 2022.

Next: A Look Inside Ana De Armas’ Career And Life Before ‘No Time To Die’

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