When it comes to biopics, they don’t get much more intensely intimate than Andrew Dominik‘s “Blonde.” And the film’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month confirmed that Ana de Armas expertly channels Marilyn Monroe in her performance. In fact, de Armas got so close to Monroe during the film’s production the actress attempted to contact the deceased starlet, in a way.
EW (via AnOther Magazine) reports that, before production on “Blonde” began, de Armas delivered a letter to Monroe’s grave site from her and the rest of cast and crew. “We got this big card and everyone in the crew wrote a message to her,” de Armas said. “Then we went to the cemetery and put it on her grave. We were asking for permission in a way. Everyone felt a huge responsibility, and we were very aware of the side of the story we were going to tell — the story of Norma Jeane, the person behind this character, Marilyn Monroe. Who was she really?”
De Armas as Dominik answer that question in a way in the new film. Based on Joyce Carol Oates‘ 2000 novel of the same name, “Blonde” dissects the star’s traumatized inner life through the discrepancies between her public and private personas. The film also stars Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel, Julianne Nicholson, Caspar Phillipson, and more.
While de Armas felt that she needed Monroe’s permission to embody so many aspects of her life, she didn’t see her performance as all-encompassing. “Don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun. I wasn’t by any means in character for nine weeks, not between takes, not in my lunch break. I was Ana,” de Armas continued. “But emotionally? The weight of it stayed with me for sure. There was no way to unplug because I’d get home and study for the next day and then Andrew was on the phone until midnight. I would go to sleep and dream I had long conversations with her, or little things — like once we were choosing which color vase we’d put flowers in. I don’t want it to seem like I’m saying, ‘Marilyn and I were connected’ — not at all. But I was thinking of her so much, some days I would go home and have dinner and as I was washing the dishes I would just start sobbing, crying and crying, because I had this terrible feeling — I knew I couldn’t fix it.”
But despite that emotional intensity, de Armas is proud of her work in “Blonde,” and she thinks Monroe is proud of the film, too. “I truly believe that she was very close to us. She was with us,” de Armas told reporters at the film’s Venice premiere. “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.”
“Blonde” currently has a limited theatrical release, but it premieres on Netflix on September 28.