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Ana de Armas’ improbable transformation into Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde’: ‘It feels like serendipity’

  • September 27, 2022

“Knock Knock” is entirely forgettable. But the film starring then-newcomer Ana de Armas has improbably set the stage for an unforgettable portrayal of Marilyn Monroe.

Somehow, whenMagically, De Armas has brought this unlikely vision to life in “Blonde,” which arrives Wednesday on Netflix amid critical praise for her performance in the controversial NC-17 film. 

“It’s very strange,” says de Armas, 34. “Andrew saw ‘Knock Knock’ and said that I had this Marilyn quality. That it was exactly what I looked like. It feels like serendipity because when I did that movie, my English was nonexistent almost. So it was kind of meant to be that for some reason we met at the right time.”

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The film spent years in pre-production before Armas, the star of “Knives Out” and “No Time to Die,” was able to read Dominik’s “Blonde” script, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel. Despite obvious differences ranging from culture to hair color, De Armas felt instantly connected to Norma Jeane, who would rise to superstardom as Marilyn Monroe but turn victim to the Hollywood machine before dying of a barbiturate overdose at age 36.

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Making the Monroe connection was “pretty obvious,” Dominik insists. “Ana has an emotional force field around her. Her feelings can just fill up the room.”

De Armas began intensive voice training to mask her accent and capture Monroe’s famous voice, even while shooting “Knives Out” in 2018. But one of her first tasks before shooting began in 2019 was to touch base with Monroe herself.

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“There was one prosthetic on my forehead to cover my hairline. The rest was was just makeup and tons of eyelashes.” says de Armas, who would slip into the chair at 4:30 a.m. and sleep with “someone holding my head up to do the makeup. But I would do the lips every day. That was part of the process I had to do. That was the cherry on top.”

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“Blonde” can be harrowing to watch as Monroe struggles through well-documented personal problems with the men in her life. While the story is historical fiction, it delves into her abusive union with Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), a sorrow-filled marriage to playwright Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody) and a lurid affair with President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson).

De Armas defends the often uncomfortable viewing. It demonstrates Monroe’s difficulties under bright lights dealing with the unrelenting demands of the men in her life, the film studios and even the fans.

“No one is meant to live with that pressure, As the audience, we need to understand that we participated in that pressure,” says de Armas. “You need to show it to understand the struggle and how hard she tried. She just wanted to be loved and respected.”

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