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New Marilyn Monroe Biopic Drawing Controversy Ahead of Premiere

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Gene Lester / Getty Images

A new biopic about Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe has been making news prior to its premiere, with many outlets dubbing the Netflix film one of the most controversial releases of the year. The Motion Picture Association appears to be in agreement, having given Blonde a rare NC-17 rating.

Ana de Armas posing on a red carpet

Ana de Armas at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, 2020. The actress will be portraying Marilyn Monroe in the upcoming Netflix biopic, Blonde. (Photo Credit: VALERIE MACON / AFP / Getty Images)

Directed by Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik and starring Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, No Time to Die) as Marilyn Monroe, Blonde is a retelling of the 2000 book of the same name. It was written by Joyce Carole Oates as a semi-fictionalized retelling of Monroe’s life, with the author long saying it shouldn’t be considered a biography about the late actress.

Among the liberties Oates took with the novel was using pseudonyms for the men in Monroe’s life, as opposed to their real names, and suggesting she was assassinated by a vindictive ex-lover, as opposed to an accidental barbiturate overdose.

The film has been in production since 2010, with actresses Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain among those tagged with playing Monroe. Chastain left the film after its budget was scrapped in 2019, leading to a new round of casting and de Armas being given the role. A Cuban actress, de Armas trained with a dialect coach for nine months to master the blonde bombshell’s signature vocal style.

Marilyn Monroe lying on her stomach during a photoshoot

Marilyn Monroe, 1954. Blonde is a semi-fictionalized retelling of the actress’ life and career. (Photo Credit: Baron / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

According to Dominik, the film is an “emotional nightmare fairy-tale type movie.” Back in February, he shared his hopes it would screen at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022. At present, it’s unknown if Blonde will be shown at the festival, as France has a law stating films released in theaters cannot be made available online for 15 months. This goes against Netflix’s typical business model, wherein its films released in theaters debut on the streaming platform shortly after.

Also of note is the fact the film was given an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association for “some sexual content,” making it the first in-house Netflix film to receive the rare rating. Speaking about the rating with Screen Daily, Dominik said:

“It’s a demanding movie. If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f**king 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.”

Andrew Dominik posing on a red carpet

Andrew Dominik at the showing of Killing Them Softly at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, 2012. Dominik directed the upcoming Netflix biopic, Blonde. (Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

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Blonde has yet to be given a release date. Acting alongside de Armas will be Adrien Brody, playing Arthur Miller, and Caspar Phillipson, who was given the role of President John F. Kennedy.