Ana de Armas: 'Marilyn was with us' during 'Blonde' filming

·2-min read

Cuban star Ana de Armas says she could feel the presence of Marilyn Monroe as they put her traumatic life on screen for "Blonde", which premieres in Venice on Thursday.

Armas said she had to go to "uncomfortable, dark and vulnerable" places to depict the harsh reality of the 20th century icon's life.

"I truly believe she was very close to us, that she was with us," Armas told reporters at the Venice Film Festival ahead of the world premiere.

"She was all I thought about, all I dreamed about, all I could talk about, she was with me, and it was beautiful. She was happy.

"She would throw things off the wall when she got mad and didn't like something," Armas added. "Maybe this sounds mystical or something, but it's true -- we all felt it."

The crew, led by Australian director Andrew Dominik, filmed in the real house where Monroe -- then Norma Jeane Mortenson -- was abused by her mentally unwell mother as a child, as well as the home where the actress died at the age of 36.

"Her dust is everywhere in Los Angeles," Dominik said. "It definitely took on elements of a seance."

He struggled for 11 years to secure financing and complete the film, and has thanked the MeToo movement for generating interest in the story, which takes an unflinching look at the sexual abuse and exploitation Monroe suffered in the industry.

The project finally "came alive" when he spotted Armas in a small film called "Knock Knock", he said.

"I knew it was her as soon as I saw her on TV, it's a little like love at first sight."

Armas worked for months with a vocal coach to lose her Cuban accent and pick up Monroe's distinctive, breathy voice.

"It was about understanding, emphathising, connecting with her and her pain and her trauma," she said.

"If you put aside the movie star that she was, she was just a woman just like me -- same age, also an actress in the industry.

"I had to go to places that I knew were going to be uncomfortable and dark and vulnerable, but that's where I found the connection with this person."

Adrien Brody, who plays husband Arthur Miller, said the divide between Monroe's iconic image and her "inner struggle and unresolved traumatic moments" was "almost criminal".

"I can't think of any other person who could have brought what Ana brought to this role," Brody said.

"On the first day of filming, I went home with this sense of awe that I had the privilege of actually working with Marilyn Monroe."

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