On Thursday, July 28, Netflix dropped the first trailer for the biopic drama Blonde, which is based on Marilyn Monroe’s life. The Gray Man star Ana de Armas plays the lead role as Monroe, while Andrew Dominik helms the project.
De Armas has successfully mimicked Monroe's appearance in the film with the help of key makeup artist Elena Arroy, key hair stylist Lynnae Duley, and costume designer Jennifer Johnson, amongst others. However, the actress has faced some criticism over her Cuban-Spanish native accent, which manages to slip through her Marilyn Monroe accent, according to some.
This has sparked a debate on Twitter over the use of native accents in biopics with cast members who have different native languages than what was fluently spoken by the figure they are portraying.
Netizens react to Ana de Armas’ voice as Marilyn Monroe
The clips of de Armas’ dialogues as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde have left viewers divided over the 34-year-old Cuba native’s accent. De Armas has previously used her natural Cuban accent throughout most of her roles in Hollywood films. Prior to the release of the trailer for Blonde, the aforementioned detail caused many to question whether De Armas would be able to portray Monroe’s unique breathy accent.
Following the trailer’s release on Thursday morning, a legion of tweets have pointed out how the Blade Runner 2049 star seems to slip through her version of Monroe’s accent into more of what is used by De Armas naturally. However, numerous tweets have also defended the actress as Monroe herself had Mexican roots, which might have reflected in some of her movie roles.
Although the online chatter on Blonde debates Ana de Armas’ accent as Monroe, it must be noted that the trailer footage only had a few lines by the actress. Thus, it would be fair to say that her ‘Monroe’ voice did not get enough screentime for viewers to analyze whether de Armas is consistent with the accent in the film.
Previously, Ana de Armas had addressed how much she had to train to get Marilyn Monroe’s accent. In an interview with The Sunday Times’ Style magazine, she said:
“I tried! It only took me nine months of dialect coaching, and practicing, and some ADR sessions (re-recording dialogue after filming). It was a big torture, so exhausting. My brain was fried.”
What was Marilyn Monroe’s accent like?
Norma Jeane Mortenson aka Marilyn Monroe is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history. The actress, who was best known for movies like Niagara (1953), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), Some Like It Hot (1959), and more, had a unique ‘breathy’ voice with a distinct accent.
According to Vogue, Monroe's voice accentuated the audible sound of her breathing. This was reportedly a style that was adopted by her upon the suggestion of a speech therapist to mitigate her childhood stutter.
Marilyn Monroe’s Mexican roots
According to numerous publications, historians have reportedly found that Monroe had Mexican roots through her maternal grandparents. While Monroe was born in Los Angeles, her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker (née Monroe), was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
As per Latin Heat Entertainment, Monroe’s maternal grandparents Otis Elmer Monroe and Della Mae Hogan migrated to the northern Mexican city from the Midwest in the 1890s. They worked as farmers at Piedras Negras and adopted the local culture. Monroe’s mother reportedly spoke both English and Spanish fluently.
According to Mitú, Marilyn herself was also able to speak Spanish fluently but was barred from doing so by Hollywood studios at the time. However, the actress later embraced her lineage more publicly.