Dominik also hopes the film will premiere Out of Competition at Cannes this May after Netflix turned down the festival’s invitation in 2021.
Director Andrew Dominik’s upcoming Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde,” starring Ana de Armas as the screen siren and based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 book, stirred controversy last year for a rumored NC-17 rating. In a recent sit-down with Screen Daily, he described the response over the rumored rating “a bunch of horseshit,” as the movie still hasn’t received an MPA rating.
Still, the “Killing Them Softly” director added that it’s definitely an “NC-17” version of Monroe’s story, even without that label. “It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.”
Some of that excess may include a reported scene featuring menstrual cunnilingus, which Dominik said is just a “hilarious” rumor. A rape scene involving a studio executive, played by David Warshofsky, is confirmed, and comes from Oates’ book.
“It’s a demanding movie,” Dominik said. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the fucking audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”
Dominik said that the biopic will hopefully premiere at 2022 Cannes in May with an Out of Competition slot. Last year, Netflix reportedly declined to screen the film, along with Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” at Cannes due to the strict theatrical release laws in France.
“[Netflix] said, ‘We’ll put the movie in theaters for eight months before we bring it out on the platform,’” Dominik said.
The streaming platform has to adhere to a 15-month window between a film’s release on its French arm of Netflix and a theatrical release. Cannes also requires all films screening in Competition to commit to a full theatrical release in France.
IndieWire reached out to Netflix for comment.
Per Dominik, Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux “loves” the Joyce Carol Oates adaptation. Frémaux previously told Deadline that “Blonde” could have been part of 2021 Cannes.
“It’s beautiful, I saw it, and I invited those films Out of Competition,” Frémaux said in June 2021. “Netflix doesn’t want to come to Cannes, but I invited them anyway and alas…It’s important, it’s not us refusing Netflix movies, it’s Netflix who doesn’t want or can’t…They want to come in Competition but films that are part of the Competition must be released [theatrically] in France.”
“Blonde” was filmed in 2019, and Dominik said the film has since been picture-locked after Netflix “insisted” on hiring “Tenet” editor Jennifer Lame to “to curb the excesses of the movie.”
Dominik noted that he has “nothing but gratitude for Netflix” overall.
While Dominik said there was “work involved” in making the Cuban star “sound American,” de Armas is “fucking amazing” as Monroe.
“The one thing nobody’s going to complain about is [de Armas’] performance,” Dominik said.
However, “Blonde” is anticipated to be “critical of American sacred cows,” as the director put it. Some of those titans include Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), and President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson).
Dominik continued that the film “wouldn’t have got done” without the #MeToo movement “because nobody was interested in that sort of shit, what it’s like to be an unloved girl, or what it’s like to go through the Hollywood meat-grinder .”
Per Vogue, de Armas spent nine months training with a dialect coach to master Monroe’s iconic voice, and spent over three and a half hours daily in makeup to transform into the blonde bombshell.
Longtime Dominik collaborator Brad Pitt produces the film under company Plan B. Julianne Nicholson, hot off her Emmy win for “Mare of Easttown,” also stars as Monroe’s unstable mother, Gladys.