Ana de Armas on Being Cuban and Portraying Hollywood Icon Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas is gracing the August cover of Elle magazine and discussing diversity in Hollywood for her cover story. The Cuban actress, who moved to Los Angeles in 2014 and learned English in just three months, will soon be seen in her portrayal of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, the anticipated film adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel by the same name.

De Armas worked with a dialect coach for nine months to master Monroe’s iconic voice. For de Armas, casting a Cuban actress as Monroe, who is often viewed as an all-American icon, is a step forward in the fight for diversity in film.

“I do want to play Latina. But I don’t want to put a basket of fruit on my head every single time,” she tells Elle. “So that’s my hope, that I can show that we can do anything if we’re given the time to prepare, and if we’re given just the chance, just the chance. You can do any film — Blonde — you can do anything.”

It’s not the first time that de Armas discusses what being cast as Monroe means to her. In 2020, the actress told Vanity Fair:

MOVIEWEB VIDEO OF THE DAY

“I only had to audition for Marilyn once and Andrew said ‘It’s you,’ but I had to audition for everyone else. The producers. The money people. I always have people I needed to convince. But I knew I could do it. Playing Marilyn was groundbreaking. A Cuban playing Marilyn Monroe. I wanted it so badly.”

De Armas grew up in her native Cuba. At 14, she began attending drama school and appeared in three Cuban films. She later relocated to Spain four years later, starring in several television series. All this experience didn’t matter when she landed in Los Angeles at 26, and the actress had to start over to build a name for herself in the United States. In 2015, de Armas landed an English-speaking role in Knock Knock; the following year, she appeared in War Dogs and Hands of Stone. After starring in 2019’s Knives Out, de Armas was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.

Buzz Surrounding Blonde

Netflix

The upcoming film, which has made headlines as Netflix’s first NC-17 film, “reimagines the life of Marilyn Monroe, exploring the split between her public and private selves.” Although the film will not be released until this Fall, there is already speculation that the film may be a contender come awards season. Earlier this month, Blonde author Joyce Carol Oates gave her approval of the film, Dominik and de Armas.

Whether any award nomination comes to fruition, de Armas is proud of the film, praising Dominik’s version of the reimagination of Monroe’s life:

“He wanted the world to experience what it actually felt like to not only be Marilyn, but also Norma Jeane. I found that to be the most daring, unapologetic and feminist take on her story that I had ever seen,” she said.

Blonde also stars Adrien Brody as Monroe’s third husband and playwright Arthur Miller and Bobby Cannavale as Monroe’s second husband, baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Blonde is slated for release on September 23 via Netflix.