Marilyn Monroe’s estate defends Ana de Armas’ casting in ‘Blonde’

Last week, we saw the full-length trailer for Blonde, the Marilyn Monroe bio-pic which will stream on Netflix in September. It was the first time we got a really good look at Ana de Armas-as-Marilyn, and it was the first time we got to hear Ana’s Marilyn voice. Personally, I genuinely think Ana is pulling off MM’s look and physicality. Now, her voice? Nope. Even in the trailer, you could hear Ana’s Cuban accent. Here’s the trailer again:

So, there was a lot of talk about Ana’s accent and whether the whole film will suck because Marilyn sounds like she’s saying “estarted” for “started.” I don’t think the film will hinge on whether or not Ana can do Marilyn’s voice, but I do think her Cuban accent will take people out of the story from scene to scene. Marilyn Monroe’s estate stepped in to defend Ana de Armas though:

The official Marilyn Monroe Estate has come to the defense of Ana de Armas, who is playing the Hollywood icon in Andrew Dominik and Netflix’s upcoming drama “Blonde.” An official trailer for the film premiered online July 28 and left many viewers outraged over de Armas’ casting because her accent did not entirely match Monroe’s iconic breathy tone. The film is not authorized by Monroe’s estate, but the group stands by de Armas’ casting nonetheless.

“Marilyn Monroe is a singular Hollywood and pop culture icon that transcends generations and history,” said Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which owns the Marilyn Monroe Estate. “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!”

De Armas previously told The Times of London that she spent nearly an entire year working on her Monroe accent for “Blonde” before filming started. The actor said, “It took me nine months of dialect coaching, and practicing and some ADR sessions [to get the accent right]. It was a big torture, so exhausting. My brain was fried.”

[From Variety]

LOL she spent a year working on the accent? The thing is, Netflix made the call about which scene to use as some kind of “voiceover” for the trailer. The fact that they used a scene in which we can clearly hear Ana’s accent makes me think that it’s probably even more profound in the rest of the film. Anyway, I actually don’t hate the idea of using a Cuban actress to play Marilyn. “Marilyn Monroe” was simply a creation of Norma Jean Baker and the studio system at the time. By hiring Ana, it’s almost like meta commentary on the nature of celebrity-as-an-empty-shell.

Photos courtesy of Netflix.

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22 Responses to “Marilyn Monroe’s estate defends Ana de Armas’ casting in ‘Blonde’”

  1. Case says:

    I think Ana is a wonderful actress and I think she’ll embody the physicality of Marilyn well. But honestly, it takes me out when ANY actor is clearly fighting to maintain an accent. You can tell they’re struggling with it and it’s distracting, and even somewhat takes away from their performance because they’re, as Ana said herself, exhausted from worrying about that so they can’t put 100% into the rest of the performance.

    • The Recluse says:

      Remember Cumberbatch in Black Mass?
      Remember Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves anyone? (Compared to Cary Elwes in Robin Hood, Men in Tights? )

      I rest my case.

  2. Sasha says:

    I love Marilyn Monroe and I’m going to try and watch this as a “in the spirit of” rather than a perfect capturing of her. I like Ana a lot and I think her ‘essence’ will match MM well. A lot of people who try to do MM appear way too sexual and I think really miss the mark about what made MM special. I think Ana might be able to pull it off. And that blue dress photo really got me the first time I saw it – looks so similar to the original!

  3. Turtledove says:

    I read a synopsis of the book this movie is based on and really think the last thing to worry about is Ana’s accent. This book is a fictionalized version of MM, and seems incredibly exploitive. The NC17 rating is for a rape scene, for example, a rape that is not known to have actually happened to her in real life. It sounds to a really gross approach to her memory and is one more example of men in Hollywood benefiting off her exploitation even in her death. Seems really silly to worry about whether Ana can ditch her cuban accent to sound exactly like MM when she is acting in a film where much of the scenes are pure fiction.

    It is a bummer as I think Ana is great and prior to looking into the source material, I really wanted to see this.

  4. Kate says:

    She sounds fine, I swear people will complain about anything! This is like when people bitched about Natalie Portman’s Jackie O voice. Why does it matter if the performance is good in the end?

    • Moominsummer says:

      Yes, it doesn’t matter if she apes Marilyn in every way, what matters if if she gives a good interpretation of the character of Marilyn Monroe. This whole biopic fad with actors being graded on how close they are to the real thing is nuts, it’s necessary to suspend some disbelief when interacting with art. Let Ana have her accent, she’s Cuban, get over it.

  5. K8erade says:

    Wasn’t Marilyn part Latino anyways? I recall her mother being born in Mexico.

    • Lolo86lf says:

      That doesn’t maker a Latina but thank you anyway. I think Marilyn was mostly of Irish descent.

    • Kelly says:

      She was born in Mexico to white American parents. Marilyn has no Latino ancestry, and even then, Latin America has a lot of white people too. Gisele Bundchen is from Brazil but her genes aren’t any less German than Heidi Klum’s.

    • Owlsyn (Ableism is Not Cool) says:

      Gladys, Marilyn’s mother, was born in Mexico but her parents had moved to the region, they did not have any Mexican heritage. They were originally from Arkansas and Minnesota.

  6. Lolo86lf says:

    I speak English with a strong Spanish accent and yes hearing Marilyn Monroe speak with a Spanish accent will turn some people off. But I do hope they can overcome that “minor detail” and enjoy Ana’s performance because she DOES capture Marilyn’s physical and sensual allure especially in the scene in Niagara when she she is wearing that hot pink dress.

  7. Kelly says:

    Ana is a great actress but this was just a bad idea. Marilyn is as American as it gets, it’s like getting an American to play Winston Churchill. As good as the performance is the accent will just take you out of the illusion.

  8. Owlsyn (Ableism is Not Cool) says:

    It is not any fault of Ana’s. You can be extremely talented as a performer (and I think she is) but just not able to adapt your voice to a different accent, no matter how much training or practice you get. Some people just can’t. Maybe she is a modern day Sean Connery and she’s just going to speak like she speaks in whatever film she is in.

    • Both Sides Now says:

      True! That was one of the reasons I couldn’t fathom why Sean Connery was a successful actor. He never attempted to speak with the necessary accent in any of his films. I despised that he was able to convince the Broccoli family to employ him as Bond. He was an overrated, egotistical, philandering husband stuck in the stone ages.

  9. Emma says:

    It’s not even a biopic so I’m not sure why it matters. Like the Bob Dylan film with Cate Blanchette.

  10. Valentina says:

    She looks absolutely incredible, yeah the accent is off but it should always be more about capturing the spirit of someone rather than doing a dead-on impersonation imo.

  11. Sigmund says:

    Eh, I think people who are hung up on the accent are forgetting that this isn’t intended to be 100% accurate anyway. Blonde is a fictionalized interpretation of Marilyn Monroe as a character. It’s not intended to be biographical.

  12. Veronica S. says:

    While I get that this is a fictionalized retelling, I do think if you’re going to play a cultural icon, getting things like the accent right is pretty important. Frankly, they should have expected criticism on that front because I found it distracting even in the trailer. It wouldn’t necessarily stop me from watching the film, but it would definitely impact my ability to buy into the portrayal. Ultimately, I think it’ll be fine because she’s a decent actress, but the critique will be there.

  13. R says:

    I don’t really understand the fuss about the accent? Plenty of American/British actors doing horrible accent of people from other countries and getting praised for it…

    • Julia K says:

      I don’t understand the fuss either. Acting teachers at the Lee Strasberg studio in NYC said (in a very old interview) that Marilyn was trying on different accents as part of her drama courses. She would adopt one for a while to see if it “fit” then go on to another , all the while working on her “feathery” way of breathless speaking that would eventually be her signature. Hearing an accented Ana might be more right than not.

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