I've been fascinated by Andrew Dominik's “Blonde,” based on the Joyce Carol Oates book about Marilyn Monroe, for some time. A book like that, steeped in the division between myth and reality, wading into some dark corners, seems perfectly suited for the man who brought us the most complex take on the outlaw Jesse James to date with his 2007 masterpiece “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Speculation has run rampant as to who would play Monroe in the film, and today, it looks like we have an answer, and that answer is Jessica Chastain.
For some time, I wasn't even looking in Chastain's direction, to be perfectly honest. Naomi Watts was in the mix at one point. I was expecting any of a number of other actresses. Then Dominik let it slip in February that Chastain was at the top of his list. That happened at a screening of “Assassination” that I had a hand in putting together. As a result, she's been rumored for a while, and something about that choice, particularly given the expected tone of this film, seems spot-on.
Speaking of all that, you might recall the big wave of press, particularly in this space, revolving around a revival of “Assassination” late last year. At the time, we did a deep dive interview with Dominik about the making of that film (which probably stands as the most definitive account). But I also took the opportunity to ask a bit about “Blonde,” which was finally ramping up as a potential follow-up to 2012's “Killing Them Softly.” I didn't bother publishing the quote until there was a reason to, and this seems like a pretty good reason.
Here's what Dominik had to say:
I've been working on it for years and I think I've finally got a version of it that's doable for the money. So I'm pretty excited to go make that film. The movie's kind of like a horror film. It's a descent into… It's horrible. It's absolutely so fucking dark. I'm really, really into it. It's almost told from the point of view of her internal drama. She's got this sort of personal mythology about the way she sees the world, and everything that you know about her is recast in that light. So it does a lot of using the audience's association with iconic things, but against them. I think the movie will be really powerful.
It certainly sounds like a shade of the icon we haven't seen in films like “Norma Jean & Marilyn” and “My Week with Marilyn,” to say the least. And with Chastain coming on board, with a wealth of fantastic performances already under her wing in a short amount of time, we can probably expect her to be in the thick of the awards conversation when this one finally rolls around. She was previously Oscar-nominated for performances in “The Help” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
“Blonde” is expected to be produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B shingle (which first got its toes wet with “Assassination” back in 2007), according to the Wrap report breaking news of the casting. Dominik also said in February that he expects filming to begin in August, so we can probably expect to see this one in theaters in the fall of 2015, particularly if it ends up being an awards player.
What do you think of the choice of Chastain for Marilyn Monroe? Have your say in the comments section below!