Becoming Marilyn

By Setoodeh, Ramin | Newsweek, November 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Becoming Marilyn


Setoodeh, Ramin, Newsweek


Byline: Ramin Setoodeh

How Michelle Williams wiggled and wept her way into the soul of hollywood's greatest icon.

For Michelle Williams, playing Marilyn Monroe in the new film My Week With Marilyn was like building a house. She had to start with the foundation, watching Monroe movies nonstop. She devoured Monroe's autobiography and letters. She downloaded her interviews from iTunes--The Voice of Marilyn Monroe, volumes 1 and 2--and listened to her speak for months on her iPod. "So many bits and pieces," Williams says. "Just a lot of little discoveries that added up to a person." And then there is that wiggle, which she practiced by tying a belt around her knees. "Her head is up," Williams says, describing the star's famous strut. "It's like a balloon is attached to her breast bone, her back is arched, almost like she's offering--I hate to get graphic--sex from behind. There's a tilt in her rump. She's making an entrance and making an exit."

Even when she left, Monroe never really departed. It has been 50 years since Monroe died of a drug overdose, and she's just as pervasive as she was in her prime: the biographies, the museum tribute, the auctions of her memorabilia (one of her green dresses from River of No Return just fetched $504,000). "Naked Marilyn Monroe Picture Expected to Sell for Thousands," screamed a recent Telegraph story. "Because she died at an early age, she's forever preserved in our minds as a vibrant and young woman," says Darren Julien, the president of Julien's Auctions, which has seen a significant spike in the value of Monroe merchandise in the last decade. What fans have been missing, however, is the definitive biopic. "I've never seen a good movie made of her," says Bert Stern, who famously photographed Monroe weeks before her death. "She had a very special quality that's hard to capture on film. It's not easy being Marilyn Monroe."

Williams read the screenplay and decided she wanted to do it, but she was scared. "I was waking up in cold sweats for six months in anticipation of it," Williams says. The film's director, Simon Curtis, acknowledges the huge risk in playing such a well-known icon: "I knew it could go terribly wrong," he says. "But when I watched Michelle on the monitor, I thought, My God, she's doing it!"

My Week With Marilyn isn't Monroe's full life story. In 1956, at the height of her popularity, Monroe went to England to make a film, The Prince and the Showgirl, with Sir Laurence Olivier. He was thrilled to work with such a fox, but when she arrived, she drove him mad. "She was late and we used to sit and moan about her," says Vera Day, who played one of Monroe's onscreen pals. "She was very difficult." My Week With Marilyn chronicles the tumultuous shoot, made all the more disruptive by her affair with an assistant.

Williams is the first to admit she looks nothing like Monroe. "I would study my face in the mirror over and over again," she says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Becoming Marilyn
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.