Ana de Armas had zero difficulty finding streams of research to play Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. But learning what drove Norma Jean, the delicate and insecure woman behind the public persona, was an entirely different challenge.
“It was important to find the emotional truth in this character,” she said Saturday at Deadline’s The Contenders Film: Los Angeles. “One of the biggest themes in this movie is the private and public self. Norma Jean was completely unseen. I wanted to capture the essence of that woman, to find the human underneath. It was a long process studying her and her films, to understand what she was feeling at all times, always thinking that Norma for the most part never thought she could live up to Marilyn. What people thought of her was not at all what she felt like.”
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The movie is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ eponymous 2000 novel, which blends fact and fiction to reimagine the life of Marilyn/Norma Jean. The movie also stars Adrien Brody, who joined de Armas onstage Saturday and spoke of being in awe of his co-star’s standout performance.
“The film really represents unresolved childhood trauma. It’s such a universal theme,” said Brody, who played The Playwright, a character inspired by Monroe’s first husband, Arthur Miller. “Her beautiful portrayal [depicts the] fragility and loneliness and the how far away that is from all of our perception and what Hollywood perpetuates about stardom, success. … It was very important to try to convey some of complexities in that relationship. The love that has to be there, the potential for hopefulness that is messing in so much of her life and that she is longing for.”
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The cast also includes Bobby Cannavale, Caspar Phillipson, Evan Williams, Toby Huss, Julianne Nicholson, Lily Fisher, Sara Paxton, David Warshofsky, Xavier Samuel, Michael Masini, Spencer Garrett, Chris Lemmon, Rebecca Wisocky, Scoot McNairy, Dan Butler, Garret Dillahunt, Lucy Devito and Ned Bellamy.
Netflix began streaming Blonde globally in September.
Check back Monday for the panel video.