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Netflix has taken its sweet time with Blonde, director Andrew Dominik’s sexually explicit Marilyn Monroe biopic, which, having first been conceived way back in 2010 with Naomi Watts in the lead role, is now an actual, finished movie starring No Time to Die MVP Ana de Armas that is set to drop later this year.
While the production was a little less than smooth—what with the pandemic-induced delays and Netflix execs reportedly asking Dominik to tone down graphic sex scenes—it seems like the film is finally ready to be digested by the wider public.
Why is Ana de Armas’s Marilyn Monroe accent in Blonde so divisive?
With the release of the first full-length trailer for Blonde on July 28, we were gifted our first proper look at Ana de Armas's interpretation of the Golden Age starlet. It's a bang-up job: We might've seen only a two-minute reel, but all of the available evidence suggests de Armas's performance will be one for the history books (and leaves her a shoo-in for an Oscar come spring).
Not everyone was a fan. While a number of Twitter users homed in on de Armas's visual dissimilarity to Monroe—an accusation we rebuke (she might not be a facsimile, but neither was Natalie Portman in Jackie)—others took umbrage with the lingering notes of de Armas's native Cuban accent.
As cultural critic and programmer Juan Barquin put it in a tweet, it's only appropriate for a biopic centering on the Janus-faced nature of celebrity to emphasize the artifice of performance by way of abrasive accent work. But we digress.
Don't just take it from us. The Marilyn Monroe estate has come to the defense of de Armas, per Variety. Although Dominik's film isn't officially sanctioned by the Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which handles the Monroe legacy, they've put their full weight behind the Cuban actor's interpretation of the timeless bombshell.
“Marilyn Monroe is a singular Hollywood and pop culture icon that transcends generations and history,” said Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at ABG. “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!”
Let's not forget that the estate presumably has some cultural and commercial interest in the success of Dominik's biopic: Blonde has already reignited interest in the life and times of Monroe—born Norma Jean Baker—and certainly wields the potential to further elevate her posthumous place in the zeitgeist. Either way, you won't get a better professional appraisal than this, unless we pull out a Ouija board.
How did Ana de Armas transform into Marilyn Monroe in Blonde?
De Armas wore a bald cap during filming to conceal her natural hair color. “[Marilyn] went through different shades of blonde from golden to really platinum, so for these wigs that are beautifully made, you can’t have anything dark underneath, so we had to make a bald cap every single day from my forehead to [around] my whole head,” she said.
The actor had to undergo three and a half hours of makeup every day. “I think I actually cried the first time I saw [the wigs] on,” she said. “Probably because I was terrified. But I’m so proud.”
She also trained for nine months with a dialect coach to perfect Monroe’s high-pitched timbre. “It was a big torture, so exhausting,” she said. “My brain was fried.”
Is there a trailer for Blonde?
The first full-length trailer for Blonde was dropped by Netflix on July 28, showcasing the painstaking attention to detail from Dominik in bringing to life the rise and tragic fall of Monroe. Many of Monroe's most famous public images are reproduced in the almost-two-minute montage, from the windy dress from The Seven Year Itch to press shots centering her and onetime husband Arthur Miller. De Armas? Transformational.
“Marilyn doesn't exist. When I come out of my dressing room, I'm Norma Jean. I'm still her when the camera's rolling,” Monroe tells a reporter in the trailer. “Marilyn Monroe only exists on the screen.”
We also get our first proper look at Adrien Brody's (weirdly hot) take on Miller, the American literary giant (and a more infamous victim of McCarthyist anticommunism) married to Monroe for half a decade in the late ’50s.
The first, overwhelmingly anticipated teaser for Ana de Armas's Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde was dropped discreetly on de Armas's Instagram page in June. And whew: 44 seconds of montage is all we get, and it's already blowing our tiny little minds.
Variously seen in crisp monochrome and vivid Technicolor, presumably to reflect the changing times undergirding Monroe's own story, events open in her dressing room before she emerges for a gig: “She's coming,” teases a voice-over while the starlet weeps. A few iconic shots later—catch the Seven Year Itch upwind dress—and de Armas delivers a spine-chillingly transformative laugh, bubbling over with all of Monroe's pain. Cinéma! Watch the trailer below.
When is Blonde released on Netflix?
Blonde is coming out on Netflix on September 28, just a few weeks after it premieres at the Venice Film Festival.
Why is Blonde so controversial?
By all accounts, it's gonna be a must-watch. Dominik is well aware Blonde might rub people the wrong way, because he's not exactly going the traditional Hollywood biopic route that many might expect. “It’s a film that definitely has a morality about it,” he told Vulture. “But it swims in very ambiguous waters because I don’t think it will be as cut-and-dried as people want to see it. There’s something in it to offend everyone.” The film, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, is being touted as Netflix's first-ever “adult-only” film. “I think if I’m given the choice, I’d rather go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story,” he said. “Because we know that her life was on the edge, clearly, from the way it ended. Do you want to see the warts-and-all version or do you want to see that sanitized version?”
Oates had high praise for Dominik's adaptation of her work. “Andrew Dominik is a very brilliant director,” Oates said, via Variety. “I think he succeeded in showing the experience of Norma Jean Baker [Monroe's birthname] from her perspective, rather than see it from the outside, the male gaze looking at a woman. He immersed himself in her perspective.” De Armas's Knives Out costar Jamie Lee Curtis was similarly impressed: “I dropped to the floor. I couldn't believe it. Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.”
Who else is in the cast of Blonde?
Alongside De Armas, Bobby Cannavale will play Monroe's second husband, Joe DiMaggio, while Adrien Brody will play her third husband, Arthur Miller. Sounds like a winner to us.
This article first appeared in British GQ.
Originally Appeared on Glamour