Marilyn, The Actress

“You know, I admire Marilyn.  I really do, despite her behavior. She’s taken everything Hollywood can throw at her and she’s triumphed.  That takes some bloody guts.  An actress has to be pretty tough to get even a tenth as far as she has. “

– Sir Laurence Olivier


Marilyn desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an actress.  The Prince and the Showgirl was an opportunity to prove herself as an actress.  She was an American actress set to co star in a production with a cast of extremely talented, experienced, trained English actors.  How daunting must that have been for her!  She had been studying The Method (a philosophy of acting) with Lee Strasberg, the father of The Method, in preparation for the movie.

As portrayed in the movie, Marilyn really struggled on the set of the movie.  She couldn’t understand her character’s motivation or who her character really was as a human being.  (The script was not the writer’s best work, so the characters weren’t really developed with logical human thought process.)  The cast and crew grew more and more frustrated with her as filming went on… They just wanted her to just “ACT” or “FAKE IT”.  Here is a scene…

Marilyn: I don’t know who Elsie is.  I don’t know her.  She is not real.

Lawrence: Then why not simply rely on your natural talents?

Marilyn: So are you saying you don’t want me to act?

 Lawrence:  Marilyn, will you just try to be sexy.  ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU DO? 

Marilyn must have been devastated.  She was working so hard to get it right and do a good job.  All they wanted was her “body” and not her “soul”.

This was the constant fight on set.

American, internal, psychological way of acting  vs. English, theatrical, external way of acting

Marilyn Monroe_reading and writing

Marilyn would write poetry as an outlet for her pain.  Here was a poem that came from one of her notebooks that she wrote in 1951.  She must have written this one before shooting a scene when panic and fear would start to consume her…


Photo Credit 1, 2

Michelle as Marilyn

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My Week With Marilyn, The Movie

“My Week with Marilyn” is an unexpected fairytale.  It is charming, witty, funny and whimsical!

The movie is a perfect little snapshot of a moment in time. A moment in Marilyn’s life.  A moment in Colin Clarke’s life.  Marilyn was a character in someone else’s life.  The movie is seen through the eyes of Colin Clark, the third assistant director on the production of Prince and the Showgirl.  The film was about Elsie, a naive Showgirl played by Marilyn Monroe, who is seduced by an Eastern European Prince played by Laurence Olivier.

The movie was working on so many different levels. You had… Marilyn vs. Laurence Olivier – Hottest Hollywood Star vs. Conservative English Actor.  Marilyn vs. Marilyn Monroe.  Marilyn vs. Arthur Miller. And… Colin and Marilyn.


Colin is a bright eyed, innocent, ambitious go-getter, who quite unexpectedly and quite naturally develops a close friendship with Miss. Monroe.  He treated her differently than all the other men in her life had.  Instead of seducing her, he befriended and comforted her.  She trusted him and felt comfortable with him, which is why she was able to open up.  She could be herself.

This was one of my favorite little moments.  It was the beginning of their little escape from reality…

You know that saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”  I think they came into each others life for a reason.  Colin helped Marilyn get through the filming of this movie.  He more importantly showed her that she could be loved like a normal girl… but she decided to choose the life of “Marilyn Monroe” that she worked so hard to establish.  I think Colin was meant to experience this so that he could tell the story of the real Marilyn and share with the world the sweet, funny, vulnerable girl who so desperately wanted to be loved and to do the right thing.

The Production

“My Week with Marilyn” was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, the same soundstage that the real production of “Prince and the Showgirl” filmed at 50 years prior.  They took some of the same original props out of storage and used them in the movie.  Michelle William’s dressing room was the same one as Marilyn used during filming.  They shot scenes at the actual Parkside House where Marilyn stayed during filming.  Elaine, the original script supervisor that was on set 50 years before, came back for the filming of this movie.  Kenneth Branagh/Laurence Olivier said there was a moment during one of the first scenes that they shot at Pinewood, where Michelle/Marilyn walked on set and Elaine grabs Branagh/Olivier’s arm and says, “Oh my god, Oh my god!” They said it was a chill inducing moment.  It was Marilyn.

Another cool story about the production that seemed to be eerily retracing history, was the scene where Colin takes Marilyn to his old school, Eton.  All the Etonians are running up to the two them, crowding around just to get a closer glimpse at Marilyn Monroe in the flesh!  She even kisses one boy on the cheek!  The cool thing for Eddie Redmayne, who played Colin, was that he graduated from Eton himself!  So he was bringing Michelle Williams back to his old school to film the movie!  He probably didn’t have to do much “acting” in that scene.  He was just living his real life in that moment!

What I loved about the movie…

Everything. One of the things I loved was that it wasn’t a long biopic that spanned her whole life from beginning to end.  Movies like that can sometimes be too heavy.  In “My Week with Marilyn” you got to see a glimpse of the hardships, the insecurities, the trust issues, her lack of confidence and belief in herself that she had in her life, and the effects it had on her and the people around her.  Luckily, those hardships were not the focus.  Marilyn’s humor, light heartedness, joy, empathy for others and deep desire to be taken seriously as an artist, was illuminated and outshone all the darkness in her life.  That’s how I want to remember her.  That’s the real Marilyn.  That’s the girl that was at the heart of Marilyn Monroe.


*Photo Credit 1, 2*