Netflix’s long-awaited Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde starring Ana de Armas is set to land this autumn – and the first evocative trailer reveals an uncanny transformation.
For over a decade, a biopic about the life of much-loved Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe has been in the works. A woman whose name will forever be associated with the glamour and tragedy of a bygone era, the long-awaited Netflix movie has changed lead actors and release dates multiple times – but this year, Blonde finally arrives on our TV screens.
Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ acclaimed 2000 novel that was once dubbed “the definitive study of American celebrity”, the fictionalised telling of Monroe’s life sees Ana de Armas step into the stilettoes of the iconic actor and pin-up model.
In the first spine-tingling trailer, Ana de Armas makes a glittering appearance as the Hollywood icon.
The one-minute teaser plays a haunting, slowed down version of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend over flickering shots of several of Monroe’s most iconic moments, including her final number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and her white dress blowing up in the wind.
We also get an insight into the darker side of fame as Monroe deals with overwhelming media attention and the loneliness of being a star. Away from the paparazzi, she sits crying in front of her dressing table mirror praying that a mysterious “she” won’t abandon her. Then, like flicking a light switch, she pulls herself together and flashes a dazzling smile. Take a look:
Back in February, director Andrew Dominik predicted that the film would get an NC-17 rating – the highest American film rating denoting ‘No One 17 And Under Admitted’ – for its themes.
“It’s a demanding movie,” he told Screen Daily. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the fucking audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office. It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.”
In March, the Motion Picture Association officially awarded the movie an NC-17 rating for “some sexual content”. While Netflix has previously streamed adult content produced by other studios, Blonde is the first original title produced by the platform to receive an adults-only rating.
While plot details are thin on the ground right now, Dominik revealed to Screen Daily that Netflix had “insisted” on hiring Tenet editor Jennifer Lame “to curb the excesses of the movie”, which includes a rape scene that was also in Oates’ book, and that the movie, which is “critical of American sacred cows”, would not have come to be without the #MeToo movement.
Speaking to Collider in 2016, Dominik also explained that the movie will be a take on the human condition.
“It tells the story of how a childhood trauma shapes an adult who’s split between a public and a private self.
“It’s basically the story of every human being, but it’s using a certain sense of association that we have with something very familiar, just through media exposure.”
“It takes all of those things and turns the meanings of them inside out, according to how she feels, which is basically how we live. It’s how we all operate in the world. It just seems to me to be very resonant. I think the project has got a lot of really exciting possibilities, in terms of what can be done, cinematically.”
After seeing a rough cut of the film, author Joyce Carol Oates wrote on Twitter that the biopic is “startling, brilliant, very disturbing & [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly “feminist” interpretation.”
A project that has been in the pipeline since 2010, Blonde has seen many actors attached to star as Monroe, including Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts. It was only after Cuban actor de Armas (Knives Out, No Time To Die) officially landed the role in 2019, however, that production on the project began.
“I knew I could do it. Playing Marilyn was groundbreaking, a Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe,” de Armas told Vanity Fair in 2020. “I wanted it so badly. You see that famous photo of her and she is smiling in the moment, but that’s just a slice of what she was really going through at the time.”
The film has an impressive supporting cast, too. Oscar-winner Adrien Brody (The Pianist) will star as the playwright Arthur Miller, Bobby Cannavale (I, Tonya) plays ‘ex-athlete’ Joe DiMaggio, and Caspar Phillipson will take on the role of JFK.
Emmy nominee Julianne Nicholson (Mare Of Easttown) will also join the ensemble.
Blonde premieres exclusively on Netflix on 23 September 2022.
Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.