The new Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde, which stars Ana de Armas, premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival, where it received a hearty 14-minute standing ovation. However, the Andrew Dominik-directed Netflix original movie didn’t receive ubiquitous plaudits. With its unfiltered exposure of Monroe’s rollercoaster life, it has become a topic of significant conjecture.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, de Armas, who has been nominated for the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar, discussed the controversy, claiming that “it was not a movie that was made to please people or to make people like it.”
“When we premiered the movie in Venice, or San Sebastián, [the reaction was much more positive than elsewhere]. Of course, the reaction that gets the most attention is the one in the US, but that wasn’t the whole experience,” de Armas explained. “It’s hard to hear these reactions, but you can always go back to what you experienced, and why you did it, and the reasons why you were attracted to the project. That is not going to change. You have the director, and you have other actors that you can always talk to.”
“As hard as it is to hear when people don’t like your film, it is what it is. It was not a movie that was made to please people or to make people like it. It is a hard movie to watch.” She admitted that the “shocking” script “felt like a horror movie” when she gave it a first read through.
“I think one thing that I had that helped me was actually not being American. All this information that people have of Marilyn, [they] just have a very specific narrative about her life and who she was. I didn’t have all that,” de Armas added, having previously admitted that she had very little knowledge of the late icon prior to taking the role. “[Blonde] is a shocking way of telling her side of the story. I thought it was really interesting and real.”
“I have watched movies about Marilyn before, and they’ve always felt in the same tone — repetitive, following the things that we already know [about] her as a movie star. That intimacy, that private, deeper side of her in her psychology, or trauma, which is what Blonde is about, that was missing for me. When I read [Blonde], I was like, ‘Oh, this is it. What I’m reading makes sense to me for someone whose life ended in a very tragic way, so soon.’ To have that ending, you need to fill up the gaps between all the beauty and the glamour and the superstar story that we know — there were pieces that were missing.”
In response to the claims that the movie is disrespectful of Monroe and her legacy, de Armas said, “I don’t think the movie speaks badly about her a bit. I think it’s the opposite. I think it speaks badly about the environment and the industry, and that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes for other people in the business.”
“I feel like the movie also makes the audience feel like participants. We contributed at the time, and we still contribute, in the exploitation of actors, people in the public eye. We, the audience, do this,” she said. “And I feel like it’s possible that some people have felt like [someone] pointed a finger at [them].”
Dominik, the director of Blonde, previously stated that he was “not concerned with being tasteful” and that the movie should not be seen as a “demon” film that is anti-feminist.
“I actually see that as a measure of the film’s success, that it inspires that kind of reaction,” Dominik said in a September 2022 conversation with The Wrap. “I think it’s very difficult for people to step outside of the stories they carry inside themselves and see things of their own volition. And I think that’s really what the movie is about: the dangers of that.”
Watch the official trailer for Blonde below.