Even in 2022, Marilyn Monroe remains one of the world’s most popular icons. Any time she is portrayed on screen, there are always high expectations. Ana de Armas stars as Marilyn in Netflix’s drama Blonde, which was released on September 28.
Similar to Marilyn, Ana has been on an upward trajectory in Hollywood since her breakout role in Knives Out. After years of waiting for this film, the buzz around Blonde has never been louder. Blonde has people talking, especially with its NC-17 rating. There’s even Oscar talk about Ana’s performance. From the cast to the fan reaction to the film, HollywoodLife has all the latest Blonde updates.
Where & When to Watch
Blonde was released on September 28, 2022, on Netflix. The original release date of September 23 was announced in June 2022 when the official teaser trailer was revealed. The movie is not expected to have a limited theatrical run.
The official Blonde trailer was released on July 28. The footage reveals glimpses of Blonde’s recreations of Marilyn’s films like Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and more.
Who Is In The Cast?
- Ana de Armas will play Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jeane Mortensen. Ana rose to fame after her breakout performance in Knives Out, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She also played a Bond girl name Paloma in No Time To Die. Her next role before Blonde is in the Netflix film The Gray Man.
- Adrien Brody plays The Playwright, a.k.a. Arthur Miller, the legendary playwright who was married to Marilyn. Adrien notably won an Oscar for his role in The Pianist. He recently earned an Emmy nomination for his role in Succession.
- Bobby Cannavale plays The Ex-Athlete, a.k.a. Joe DiMaggio, the New York Yankees player who was Marilyn’s second husband. Bobby is known for his Emmy-winning role on Boardwalk Empire. He is also a Tony nominee.
- Julianne Nicholson plays Gladys Pearl Baker, Marilyn’s mother. Julianne recently won an Emmy for her role in the limited series Mare of Easttown.
- Caspar Phillipson plays John F. Kennedy. This isn’t the first time Caspar has played the former President. The Danish actor played JFK in the 2016 film Jackie.
- Toby Huss plays Allan “Whitey” Snyder, Marilyn’s personal makeup artist. Toby just wrapped his multi-season role as Edward Dickinson in the Apple TV+ series Dickinson. He’s also known for his voice-over work.
- Xavier Samuel plays Charles “Cass” Chaplin Jr., Charlie Chaplin’s son who was rumored to have had an affair with Marilyn. Xavier rose to fame with his role in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
- Evan Williams plays Edward G. Robinson Jr. Edward was Marilyn’s co-star in Some Like It Hot. Evan is known for his roles in Degrassi: The Next Generation and Versailles.
- Sara Paxton plays Miss Flynn. Sara rose to fame in the early 2000s with her roles in Return to Halloweentown, Aquamarine, and Sydney White.
Additional stars include Scoot McNairy, Lily Fisher, David Warshofsky, Spencer Garrett, Rebecca Wisocky, Dan Butler, and Garret Dillahunt. Blonde has been in the works for over a decade. Naomi Watts was initially set to star as Marilyn in 2010. Fast-forward to 2014 and Jessica Chastain replaced Naomi as Marilyn. Filming never materialized, and the movie was put on hold. In 2019, Ana was in negotiations to take over the role from Jessica. And the rest is history.
“I only had to audition for Marilyn once and Andrew [Dominik] said ‘It’s you,’ but I had to audition for everyone else,” Ana told Vanity Fair. “The producers. The money people. I always have people I needed to convince. But I knew I could do it. Playing Marilyn was groundbreaking. A Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe. I wanted it so badly.”
Ana was extremely dedicated to her portrayal of Marilyn. She revealed in an interview with Netflix Queue that she spent between two-and-a-half and three hours every day in hair and makeup during the movie’s 47-day shoot. She said the cast and crew “worked on this film for hours, every single day for almost a year. I read Joyce’s novel, studied hundreds of photographs, videos, audio recordings, films — anything I could get my hands on. Every scene is inspired by an existing photograph. We’d pore over every detail in the photo and debate what was happening in it. The first question was always, ‘What was Norma Jeane feeling here?’ We wanted to tell the human side of her story. Fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma the most invisible.”
Who Is Behind the Scenes?
Blonde was written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Andrew previously directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Killing Them Softly. Producers include Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Tracey Landon, and Scott Robertson.
‘Blonde’ At Venice Film Festival
Blonde premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 8. Ana wore a gorgeous plunging pink floor-length gown designed by Louis Vuitton to event. The actress cried after receiving a 14-minute standing ovation from the crowd, who raved about her performance in the Marilyn Monroe biopic. During the press conference for the film, Ana revealed that she felt Marilyn’s ghost in her presence when they filmed the movie.
“I truly believe that she was very close to us. She was with us,” Ana said to the reporters. “I think she was happy. She would also throw things off the wall sometimes and get mad if she didn’t like something. Maybe this sounds very mystical, but it is true. We all felt it.”
What’s The Movie’s Story?
Netflix’s official description of Blonde reads: “Based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde boldly reimagines the life of one of Hollywood’s most enduring icons, Marilyn Monroe. From her volatile childhood as Norma Jeane, through her rise to stardom and romantic entanglements, Blonde blurs the lines of fact and fiction to explore the widening split between her public and private selves.”
Blonde’s director noted that he is switching things up with his latest film. “Blonde‘s interesting because it has very little dialogue in it,” Andrew told The Film Stage. “My previous three movies have relied on a lot of talking and I don’t think there’s a scene in Blonde that’s longer than two pages. I’m really excited about doing a movie that’s an avalanche of images and events. It’s just a different way. It’s a different thing for me to do. And the main character is female. My films are fairly bereft of woman and now I’m imagining what it’s like to be one.”
Blonde’s runtime is a whopping 2 hours and 46 minutes. For context, Avengers: Endgame was only a tad longer at 3 hours and 2 minutes. The movie also has an NC-17 rating, which means no one under 17 is admitted. An NC-17 rating is higher than an R rating and contains more adult material. Andrew admitted that the film’s rating by the MPAA caught him off guard.
“I was surprised,” he told Vulture. “Yeah. I thought we’d colored inside the lines. But I think if you’ve got a bunch of men and women in a boardroom talking about sexual behavior, maybe the men are going to be worried about what the women think. It’s just a weird time. It’s not like depictions of happy sexuality. 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.”
The director talked about the film’s sexual content and confirmed a rape scene that was in Joyce’s novel will appear in the film. “It’s controversial, there’s a bit for them to swallow,” Andrew told Screen. “It’s a demanding movie — it is what it is, it says what it says. And if the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f**king audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”
He called the rating a “bunch of horsesh*t… That’s just the ratings board being political.” He also said, “If I look at an episode of Euphoria, it’s far more graphic than anything going on in Blonde.”
What Is The Movie’s Budget?
Blonde had a budget of $22 million. The movie was filmed in Los Angeles. Andrew revealed that he’s not concerned about Netflix’s feelings about his $22 million film.
“Netflix is a big business with much bigger fish to fry than Blonde, in terms of where they spend their money,” Andrew told Vulture. “They’re paying $400 million for movies. A little $22 million movie, it’s not going to break the bank for Netflix.”
What Are People Saying About The Movie?
Back in 2020, author Joyce Carol Oates revealed she had seen a rough cut of Blonde. She called the film “startling, brilliant, very disturbing, and [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation.” She noted that she’s “not sure that any male director has ever achieved” that before.
(just a parenthetical aside–I have seen the rough cut of Andrew Dominick's adaptation & it is startling, brilliant, very disturbing & [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly "feminist" interpretation… not sure that any male director has ever achieved anything this.) https://t.co/zUubjH5yqV
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) August 10, 2020
Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana’s Knives Out co-star whose father, Tony Curtis, starred in Some Like It Hot with Marilyn, had nothing but praise for Ana. “I remember when she showed me a video of her screen tests for Blonde,” Jamie told Vanity Fair. “I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.”
Casey Affleck, the brother of Ana’s ex Ben Affleck, told Entertainment Tonight that he predicts Ana will “win an Oscar next year” for her performance as Marilyn. “I saw her performance as Marilyn Monroe in this movie called Blonde, which hasn’t come out, and I would bet a lot that she’s gonna pick up every single award,” he said. “She’s gonna have a good year. I’m not too worried about her.”
Ana’s performance received some criticism due to her accent not matching Marilyn’s voice. However, the Marilyn Monroe Estate publicly defended Ana, despite not authorizing the film. “Marilyn Monroe is a singular Hollywood and pop culture icon that transcends generations and history,” said Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Marilyn Monroe Estate, per Variety. “Any actor that steps into that role knows they have big shoes to fill. Based on the trailer alone, it looks like Ana was a great casting choice as she captures Marilyn’s glamour, humanity and vulnerability. We can’t wait to see the film in its entirety!”
Blonde began trending on Twitter after its release and received mixed reactions from fans. “#BlondeNetflix is distasteful,” one fan tweeted. “Even if it is a fictionalized story, there can be some care put towards the film. There is this emotional detachment from Marilyn Monroe that makes this such a dark and graphic film. It’s actually disturbing how exploitative this is.”
Another fan called the film “unsettling” because Marilyn was portrayed as “some sort of fictional doll.” Ana’s performance was praised by many fans, one of whom applauded the actress but criticized the producers for telling an “inauthentic” story. The film was even referred to as a “disgusting porn” by another fan.
One more person who criticized the film tweeted, “Everyone involved in #BlondeNetflix #Blondemovie should be made to go to her grave and apologize. None of the original light to contrast the darkness, her open sexuality is denied and made a never ending rape etc. Monroe documentaries, using her words, serve her better.”