Watch the first trailer for the adults-only Marilyn Monroe movie

‘Blonde’, Netflix's first original NC-17-rated project, is expected to "offend everyone".

by Douglas Greenwood and Tom George
16 June 2022, 9:15am

Still from Blonde trailer

We’ve been waiting forever for the sort-of-fantastical, rumoured-to-be-fucked-up biopic of Marilyn Monroe from Netflix — and now it looks like an end is in sight. After Variety announced last week that the movie will premiere at Venice Film Festival in early September, a teaser trailer has now also been released that showcases the raw, deeply-personal side of Marilyn’s fame. Hopefully we will all be watching the probably quite controversial movie before the end of the year.

In just 52 seconds of footage we’re shown those famed moments with Marilyn posing in front of flashing cameras, wearing her most iconic outfits including the breezy white dress and sexy, sleek magenta look (Kim Kardashian better not even THINK about touching those looks). But we also get a fictionalised intimate insight into her life with tears rolling down the star’s cheeks while her make up is applied and practicing looking happy and smiling into a mirror.

Since the idea of adapting Joyce Carol Oates’ book Blonde — a loose reimagining of Marilyn’s life — was first proposed in 2010, the production has faced multiple delays. But filming commenced in 2019, with Ana De Armas in the lead role, and now we can finally set our sights on the possibility of seeing this spectacle by the time 2022 is over, as the director Andrew Dominik has released some juicy new details about the movie — including the scheduled release date and his hopes for how audiences perceive it.

Some people have already seen it though: namely, the Motion Picture Association, who have given the film an NC-17 rating (the equivalent of an 18 in the UK) meaning it’s bound to be as messed up as those early rumours of talking foetuses, violence and bloody oral sex suggested. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the fucking audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office,” director Andrew Dominik joked to Screen Daily. “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 fact, it’s probably what the sexually-empowered, risque Marilyn would have wanted.

Later, in an interview with Collider, Andrew revealed deeper details about the movie, including a new descriptor: “Blonde is a movie for all the unloved children of the world,” he said. “It’s like Citizen Kane and Raging Bull had a baby daughter.”

It is, first and foremost, a film about the manifestation of trauma. “The whole idea of Blonde was to detail a childhood drama and then show the way in which that drama splits the adults into a public and private self,” Andrew explained. “And how the adult sees the world through the lens of that childhood drama, and it’s sort of a story of a person whose rational picture of the world as being overwhelmed by her unconscious, and it uses the iconography of Marilyn Monroe.”

He continued by calling the film both a “tragedy” and a “nightmare”, about a child no one wanted becoming the most desired woman in the world. “It’s about being in a car with no brakes. It’s just going faster and faster and faster.”

Most recently, Andrew Dominik spoke to Vulture about the movie’s timing in culture, and how it might have differed if it arrived in cinemas earlier. “If it had come out a few years ago, it would have come out right when #MeToo hit and it would have been an expression of all that stuff,” he said. “We’re in a time now, I think, where people are really uncertain about where any lines are.

“It’s a film that definitely has a morality about it,” he added. “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.”

Got your attention? In preparation for its release, here’s everything we know about Blonde — from the casting, to the plot and release date.

What is the plot of Blonde?

Blonde is based on the 700-page book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which was released in 2000. Joyce has long been adamant that her book should not be considered a biography, but rather as a fictionalised historical novel. The New Yorker also called the story “the definitive study of American Celebrity”. Throughout, Oates never actually uses the real names of the men in Marilyn’s life, instead using pseudonyms; but it does cover her marriages, affairs and toys with the theory that she was assassinated by a vindictive, powerful ex. Dominik has said that some of the “excesses” of Oates’ novel have been removed though, including a rape scene.

The script for the film has done the rounds on the internet for a while, and a first cut was submitted to Netflix last year, who were rumoured to have asked for re-cuts due to it being, as Dlisted put it, “too weird”. That too was a first in the studio’s history, who famously allow directors to have free rein over their projects.

Who is playing Marilyn Monroe in Blonde?

Since it began production all the way back in 2010, a number of actresses have been linked to the role. Originally Naomi Watts of The Ring and Birdman fame was cast, before the film was taken in a different direction and Jessica Chastain (Interstellar) took on the role. However, with the production slow to start due to financing issues, it was shelved. Eventually, when production restarted in 2019, the role was given to Ana De Armas (Knives Out and No Time To Die). “I only had to audition for Marilyn once and [director Andrew Dominik] said 'It's you,” Ana told Vanity Fair. She’s Cuban, and so to prepare for the iconic Hollywood role, she trained with a dialect coach for a year to get it right.

Who else is in the cast of Blonde?

Alongside Ana is Bobby Canavale (I, Tonya) and Adrien Brody (The French Dispatch) as Marilyn’s second and third husbands, the Yankee’s player Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller respectively. Her mother, actress Gladys Pearl Baker, will be played by Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown) whilst John F. Kennedy, Marilyn’s rumoured lover, will be played by Caspar Phillipson. Of course, Caspar also played JFK in another biopic: Pablo Larraìn’s Jackie.

Who is behind the camera of Blonde?

The decade-long project has been the baby of writer and director Andrew Dominik — who is also known for the neo-noir movie Killing Them Softly (2012) — since the very beginning. He also brought the star of that movie, Brad Pitt, in as a producer on Blonde, alongside two-time Oscar winning producers of 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. Working on the movie’s music are Nick Cave and Warren Ellis of the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – something of a favour, after Dominik produced an acclaimed documentary on the group.

Is there a trailer for Blonde?

Not yet. We don’t even have any first-look imagery or official BTS photos, but there are paparazzi pics floating about on the internet. With production now been completed, we can assume it won’t be long until we finally get at least a glimpse of the project.

What is the runtime of Blonde?

It’s been heavily rumoured that the original cut of Blonde was excessively long, but those remain just that: rumours. When pressed by Collider to give us an idea of the runtime, Andrew Dominik gave a blunt answer: “Mate, that’s like asking a woman her age.”

Does Blonde have a release date?

In an interview with Vulture, Andrew shared his longstanding wish for the film to premiere at the Venice Film Festival and Variety have now confirmed the movie will in fact make its debut there this September. After that, Netflix have vaguely said we can expect Blonde to be available to stream on their platform in 2022, with a short-run in movie theatres beforehand, for those willing to showcase the NC-17-rated material. Long story short: expect to be waiting at least until the end of summer before seeing the glitzy XXX story about the world’s most famous sex symbol.

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