Lead star de Armas, who portrays Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s portrait of the screen icon, revealed in a Variety cover story that her Cuban mother, Ana Caso, saw an unsubtitled version of “Blonde” and “understood everything” despite not speaking English. “There was nothing I needed to explain to her,” de Armas said. “If she can understand that with no subtitles, then we hit the spot.”
De Armas’ own accent received backlash after the first trailer for the film was released. The Cuban-born star trained for nine months with a dialect coach to perfect Monroe’s signature breathy voice. “It was a big torture, so exhausting,” de Armas said at the time. “My brain was fried.” She previously called her casting “groundbreaking” as a “Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe” and said she was “terrified” to take on the role.
Writer/director Dominik told Variety that English being de Armas’ second language did contribute to her performance. “She’s got no doubt about herself as an actress, but the muscles in her face, her mouth and her tongue have formed differently than a person who is a native English speaker. It’s a big ask,” Dominik said of the grueling role.
Dominik continued, “With Ana, I understand what the fuss is about. Her being born in Cuba wasn’t to her advantage when it came to her getting the part, but we weren’t going to let it get in the way.”
De Armas didn’t see her nationality or ethnicity as standing in the way of embodying an American icon. “As drama students, we did Tennessee Williams. We did Shakespeare in Spanish,” de Armas said. “To me, this concept of ‘You can’t play this or play that’ — what does that mean? I’m an actress, I want to play that role. It’s a personal desire and ambition to play roles that I wasn’t supposed to play. To me, art is to be repeated and replicated and reinterpreted; that’s the whole point of culture. And I deserve that challenge.”
For all the details on “Blonde,” click here.