Andrew Dominik knew he had found his ideal Marilyn Monroe in Ana de Armas. But on the second day of filming for Blonde, he realized just how spot-on she was when her performance in a scene actually brought tears to his eyes.
“She had to do a scene where she hadn’t seen her mother for 10 years,” he recalls. “And she walks in and just explodes into tears, and she came out and she did the first take, and it was amazing. But the operator blew it — he missed the cue. And so we had to do it again. I’m like, ‘Sorry, Ana, we gotta go again.’ She came out, she did a second take, which was also good, but it wasn’t as good as the first one. And before I could even get those words out of my mouth, she said, ‘I want another one.’ The pressure was really on now,” Andrew Dominik tells MovieMaker.
“We roll cameras, she goes back to her mark, and we can’t see it — she’s in the corridor, her first mark is off camera — and like a minute goes by, which is a long time when you’re rolling. And she comes out and she stands in the doorway, and she kind of stared the whole room down,” he continues.
“It was sort of like a high diver coming up to the edge of a board and looking at how far the pool is below her. And then she went back to her mark and another minute went by. And by this stage, the tension in the room was fucking unbearable. Then she came out, she does the take that’s in the film, and it was incredible. I actually remember a teardrop of mine actually hit the monitor when she did it. She was amazing.”
De Armas remembers that moment, too.
“Obviously, as you can see, it’s a very visceral moment,” she says. “For the first time, she sees her mother after what we’ve seen in childhood. It was very emotional,” she adds. “I remember his reaction.”
For de Armas, having a good director who she could really trust helped her to fully get into character as Marilyn Monroe.
“I have learned that most of the time, the takes where I feel good don’t look that good on camera, and the takes that I feel like, ‘Okay, that was fine,’ there’s something else that happens. What you feel and what the camera sees are not the same,” she says. “That took me a few years to learn. And that also takes a great director that can teach you that, and that you can trust. Because usually, the only thing you have to trust is your instincts, or how you felt about it. But Andrew, I had full trust in him.”
Blonde arrives Sept. 28 on Netflix and is now in select theaters.
Main Image: Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde courtesy of Netflix