Interview: Ana de Armas on Becoming Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas

Cuban-Spanish actor, Ana de Armas has delivered a stunning performance as Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix movie, Blonde, based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel. De Armas opens up on how she inhabited dual personalities to become the most authentic version of the American icon.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s “Blonde.”

INDULGE: Your metamorphosis from de Armas to Monroe was jaw dropping.

ANA: I was incomplete until I was in costume and hair, and make up, and had warmed up my voice. Every day that we got a specific look, whether it was more Marilyn or more Norma, it was a celebration. It was also terrifying because we had to do it all over again the next day. As much as I had a responsibility to show the character that we all know, I felt equally responsible for showing emotional proof of humanity to this person…It was a full immersion, so in a way, it’s not like I stayed in character, but at the same time, I couldn’t let it go either.

INDULGE: It took about a decade to get this movie made. But you were both incredibly committed.

ANA: (Director, Andrew Dominik) had warned me to be careful with this movie because it had broken his heart many times before. As an actress, you don’t get rolls like this. You don’t get to live an experience like this and a process like this. It was a crazy, beautiful opportunity.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn in Netflix’s “Blonde.”

INDULGE: It appears there were two people residing in Marilyn — her screen persona, the one we are all familiar with, and Norma. How did you process this?

ANA: Marilyn has been seen her whole life. Her entire life, Norma’s been invisible. Norma could never live up to Marilyn. She was always the unwanted child, the unloved child. So to be Marilyn, and be completely, the opposite of that, desired, must have been very confusing and heartbreaking. That was the part that resonated with me. A lot of imagination was required in putting myself in her shoes, considering her childhood, and her struggles and her trauma, and everything she went through trying to become a serious actress, to be considered an intellectual. It’s not that I have gone through that myself, but it’s not that hard to imagine.

Ana de Armas replicates moment with assistant. Photo: Netflix / Getty / Bettman

INDULGE: You captured flawlessly the heartbreak and demands that Norma Jean had to endure to become Marilyn. We feel as if we’d gone back in time to witness her incredible journey. What do you hope people take away from this movie?

ANA: We all have many layers and it would be unfair for people to judge us in just one way. For the most part, there is this idea of Marilyn, this iconic image of her and this perception of fame and glamor and beauty. Everything is perfect, To me, there was something missing. We didn’t get a full picture of who this person was. This movie, even though it’s fictional, does have some proof in it. The emotional part of it could be an accurate representation of how she felt.

INDULGE: From Joi in Blade Runner 2049 to Paloma in No Time to Die and now, Marilyn in Blonde. That’s an impressive range of movies. Tell us what you look for when accepting a role.

ANA: I look for stories that are compelling to me, that I feel need to be told. I don’t want to have a career or a life that feels like autopilot. I want to be challenged and do things and take risks. And I might fail. Or not. But it’s about growth.

— Kelly Fine