Ana de Armas plays Marilyn Monroe in 'Blonde': Breaking down previous movies and TV shows about the iconic star

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·6 min read
Mira Sorvino, Ana de Armas and Michelle Williams play Marilyn Monroe. (Photo: Everett Collection/Netflix)
Mira Sorvino, Ana de Armas and Michelle Williams play Marilyn Monroe. (Photo: Everett Collection/Netflix)

Because Marilyn Monroe has been so enamored, so analyzed since her death in 1962, at the young age of 36, there have been countless projects about her life, many of them dramatizations that require an actress — or two — to attempt the iconic star's je ne sais quoi. The many Marilyns have all tended to have some things in common: There's the screen siren's voluminous blonde hair — a shortcut to screaming, "THIS IS HER!" — her slender yet curvy figure and her breathy voice.

Ana de Armas will become the latest to play Marilyn when a film adaptation of Blonde, the 2000 Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name, arrives in select theaters on Sept. 16 and debuts on Netflix on Sept. 28. The book, which was made into a two-part TV movie, starring Poppy Montgomery and a pre-Grey's Anatomy Patrick Dempsey, in 2001, is a fictionalized version of Marilyn's life.

Already, de Armas's performance in the newer version has been criticized, with some calling her out for her accent. She received some big support on Aug. 1, though, when the Marilyn Monroe Estate released a statement lauding her for capturing Marilyn's "glamour, humanity and vulnerability" in the movie's trailer, adding "We can't wait to see the film in its entirety!"

Yahoo Entertainment breaks down some of the previous movie and TV projects that have focused on the life of Marilyn Monroe — and who played the actress:

Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976) and Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn (1989)

Misty Rowe tosses her head back in 1976's
Misty Rowe tosses her head back in 1976's Goodbye, Norma Jean. (Photo: Everettt Collection)

Stars: Former Hee Haw cast member Misty Rowe appeared as a pre-Hollywood Norma Jean Baker in both films (the latter through flashbacks), while Paula Lane, who appeared on The Mike Douglas Show as a Monroe lookalike in 1980, portrayed her more glamorous counterpart.

Based on: Scripts by director Larry Buchanan (1969 TV movie It's Alive!) and, in the case of Goodbye, Norma Jean, co-written by actor-turned-writer Lynn Shubert, explore Monroe's sexual encounters and, eventually, speculate that a friend killed her out of mercy.

Response: A surviving review from TV Guide calls the former a "rancid movie bio" that's "sensationalistic and slimy."

Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)

Catherine Hicks stars in
Catherine Hicks stars in Marilyn: The Untold Story in 1980. (Photo: Schiller Prod./Courtesy Everett Collection)

Stars: Future 7th Heaven mom Catherine Hicks as Marilyn, and future Growing Pains star Tracey Gold as the pint-sized her.

Based on: Norman Mailer's 1973 book Marilyn: A Biography.

Response: The TV movie was nominated for four Emmys, including one for Hicks as lead actress in a limited series or special. Writing for TV Guide, Judith Crist lauded Hicks's "breathtaking (and breathless) portrait of the actress."

Marilyn and Me (1991)

Susan Griffiths's turn to play Marilyn came in 1991's
Susan Griffiths's turn to play Marilyn came in 1991's Marilyn and Me. (Photo: New Films International/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Stars: Monroe impersonator Susan Griffiths, who appeared in Pulp Fiction and other productions.

Based on: Robert Slatzer's claims that he secretly married the screen star in Mexico in 1952, which he laid out in two books, The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe (1974) and The Marilyn Files (1992).

Response: Hairstylist Linle White was nominated for an Emmy.

Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996)

Ashley Judd plays Norma Jean, while Mira Sorvino plays Marilyn in
Ashley Judd plays Norma Jean, while Mira Sorvino plays Marilyn in Norma Jean and Marilyn. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Stars: Mira Sorvino as Marilyn, Ashley Judd as the inner Marilyn (Norma Jean).

Based on: Anthony Summers's 1985 book, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, a biography based on more than 600 interviews.

Response: Both stars were rewarded with Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

Blonde (2001)

Poppy Montgomery stars in a 2001 version of
Poppy Montgomery stars in a 2001 version of Blonde. (Photo: Joe Pugliese/TV Guide/courtesy Everett Collection)

Stars: Poppy Montgomery as Marilyn.

Based on: Oates's book, the same source material for the new Blonde.

Response: While Montgomery didn't win big awards, she notably won over some critics, such as one at Variety, with her "impressive performance."

My Week With Marilyn (2011)

<em>My Week with Marilyn</em> stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. (Photo: Laurence Cendrowicz/The Weinstein Company/courtesy Everett Collection)
My Week with Marilyn stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. (Photo: Laurence Cendrowicz/The Weinstein Company/courtesy Everett Collection)

Stars: Michelle Williams as Marilyn.

Based on: Colin Clark's books The Prince, The Showgirl and Me (1995) and My Week With Marilyn (2000), based on his account of his time working on the set of Monroe's 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl, which co-starred Laurence Olivier.

Response: The film grossed an estimated $35 million on a reported $10 million budget. Williams was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe, while Kenneth Branagh snagged a nod for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Olivier.

Smash (2012)

<em>Smash</em> actress Katharine McPhee plays a "Bombshell."
Smash actress Katharine McPhee plays a "Bombshell."
Megan Hilty&#39;s Marilyn Monroe sits with Will Chase&#39;s Joe DiMaggio on an episode of
Megan Hilty's Marilyn Monroe sits with Will Chase's Joe DiMaggio on an episode of Smash. (Photo: Everett Collection)
Uma Thurman plays the star in
Uma Thurman plays the star in Smash production "Bombshell." (Photo: Will Hart/NBC/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Stars: Show-within-a-show features Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty and Uma Thurman all playing Marilyn at different times.

Based on: This one is different, because the NBC show was actually about actresses Karen (McPhee) and Ivy (Hilty) competing to play Monroe in a Broadway production about her life. At one point, a veteran actress, Rebecca (Thurman), comes in to be Marilyn, too.

Response: Thurman was nominated for an Emmy for her guest appearance, and the show was recognized for its music and choreography. It was up for the best TV comedy or musical award at the Golden Globes in 2013.

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (2015)

Kelli Garner stars as Marilyn in
Kelli Garner stars as Marilyn in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. (Photo: Everett Collection)

Stars: Kelli Garner (Lars and the Real Girl, Pan Am) as Marilyn. Notably, Susan Sarandon and her daughter Eva Amurri play the older and younger versions of Marilyn's mother, Gladys.

Based on: Lifetime's two-part TV miniseries focused on Marilyn's relationship with her family and how she tried to hide that part of her life from the public, and it was taken from J. Randy Taraborrelli's 2009 bio of the same name.

Response: Reviews of Garner's performance skewed from meh to wow, but the miniseries picked up three non-acting Emmy nods.

Blonde (2022)

Ana de Armas is Marilyn Monroe in
Ana de Armas is Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. (Photo: Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Stars: Ana De Armas.

Based on: Joyce Carol Oates's 2000 biographical fiction novel.

Response: To be determined.

This story was originally published on Sept. 16, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. ET.