Why ‘Blonde’ Director Andrew Dominik Was Surprised by the Film’s NC-17 Rating

It has been 60 years since the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe. The Hollywood icon has been the subject of countless books, movies, and documentaries.

The most recent depiction of the legendary blonde bombshell’s life will debut on Netflix on September 23, 2022. Titled simply Blonde, the film features an impressive supporting cast that includes Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, and Julianne Nicholson.

'Blonde' Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe
Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde’ | Netflix

Ana de Armas takes on the lead role of Monroe, giving audiences a startling glimpse of the starlet’s tragic life. Disturbing images and explicit sexual content led the Motion Picture Association (MPAA) to give the new movie a rare adults-only NC-17 rating, surprising director Andrew Dominik.

Why ‘Blonde’ received a NC-17 rating

Based on the 700-page novel, of the same name, by Joyce Carol Oates, the Netflix film interprets the inner psyche of Norma Jeane Baker (Monroe) and the circumstances that led to her death in 1962. The Deep Water actor told Netflix Queue, “Fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma the most invisible.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has streamed NC-17 movies from other studios, but Blonde “marks the first movie produced by Netflix to receive the hard-core rating.”

In an interview with Vulture, Dominik said he was surprised at the rating, saying:

“I thought we’d colored inside the lines. But I think if you’ve got a bunch of men and women in a boardroom talking about sexual behavior, maybe the men are going to be worried about what the women think. It’s just a weird time.”

While Dominik could have edited the film to meet the R rating criteria, he chose to keep the questionable subject matter intact, telling Vulture:

“We know that her life was on the edge, clearly from the way it ended. Do you want to see the warts-and-all version, or do you want to see the sanitized version?”

How the #MeToo movement affected the making of ‘Blonde’

The controversial biopic was scheduled to come out a few years ago, around the same time the #MeToo movement was gaining momentum. Dominik told Vulture:

“We’re in a time now, I think, where people are really uncertain where any lines are. It’s a film that definitely has a morality about it. But it swims in very ambiguous waters because I don’t think it will be as cut-and-dried as people want to see it.”

He explained, “There’s something in it to offend everyone.” Speaking with Screen Daily, the Australian director revealed there is a sexual assault scene in the novel that he chose to use in the film. He said the #MeToo movement was pivotal in him being allowed to recreate the scene.

Dominik explained that before the movement exposed high-profile cases of sexual assault, the subject matter was off-limits for filmmakers. He explained, “nobody was interested in that sort of s— — what it’s like to be an unloved girl, or what it’s like to go through the Hollywood meat grinder.”

While the unusual NC-17 rating has everyone buzzing, the focus will undoubtedly shift to de Armas’ Oscar-worthy performance when the film airs on Netflix later this year.

Ana de Armas like we have never seen her

The Cuban-born actor moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and, in 2017, landed a role in Blade Runner 2049. But, it wasn’t until she appeared in the 2019 comedy Knives Out, alongside actor Daniel Craig, that people started to take notice of the budding star.

Several months later, de Armas became the next Bond girl in the blockbuster No Time to Die, Craig’s last movie portraying the super spy. She was also given the part of Monroe in Blonde and, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, had to film both movies simultaneously.

According to US Weekly, the biopic has been in development since 2010, with Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts formerly attached to the project. In a 2020 interview with Vanity Fair, the 34-year-old actor revealed:

“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.”

To pull off the transformation, the War Dogs actor spent nine months with a dialect coach to perfect the feathery accent, and during filming, she spent countless hours in the makeup chair. The Knock Knock actor sported different shades of blonde wigs, donning a bald cap to ensure no black hair peaked out on camera.

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