Michelle Williams Was the Only Choice to Play Marilyn Monroe in ‘My Week With Marilyn’

Marilyn Monroe continues to be an enigma even six decades after her death. Monroe seems as relevant today as she was in her heyday, and Hollywood loves keeping her story alive. Several actors have portrayed the iconic actor throughout the years, with Ana de Armas recently joining the pack. However, when My Week with Marilyn was being made, the director only wanted Michelle Williams to play Monroe.

‘My Week with Marilyn’ explored a week in the star’s life

My Week with Marilyn dives into the week Monroe was preparing to shoot the film The Prince and The Showgirl. The movie is set in 1956 England and follows Colin Clark, who lands a job as a production assistant on the movie Monroe is set to star in.

At the time, Monroe is also on her honeymoon with her new husband, Arthur Miller. However, the combined pressures of work and the demands of Hollywood groupies and studio execs threaten to drive her to exhaustion.

The movie starred Williams in the leading role as Monroe while Eddie Redmayne played Colin. Kenneth Branagh and Dougray Scott also starred. The movie received critical acclaim and was a moderate box office success grossing $35 million against a $10 million budget. The film earned Williams a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination.

Michelle Williams was the only choice for ‘My Week with Marilyn’

michelle williams marilyn
Actress Michelle Williams attends the ‘My Week with Marilyn’ Japan Premiere at Roppongi Hills on March 13, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan. | Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Williams is a talented actor with a decorated career. The star has been in several projects that garnered critical acclaim, like Blue Valentine and Brokeback Mountain. So My Week with Marilyn director Simon Clarke understandably saw her as the perfect choice to bring the screen siren to life.

Speaking to Vogue, Clarke said of Williams, “Not only is she beautiful and brilliant, but she brings such intellect to her work along with an intuitive grasp of character, extraordinary depth of feeling, and a kind of innate glamour- I guess we call it star quality.”

Clark said that Williams has what many directors call “the dream package.” The director told the publication that when he first met Williams, he hoped she’d be up for the role because he couldn’t “imagine making it without her.”

The publication noted that Williams spent six months trying to perfect Monroe’s mannerisms, including her walk. She said, “I’d go to bed every night with a stack of books next to me. And I’d fall asleep to movies of her.” Her dedication explains why Clark felt Williams was the only choice to play the character, as she gave a unique take on the beloved star without resorting to clichés.

Other actors who’ve played Marilyn Monroe

Misty Rowe was one of the first actors to portray Monroe as she played the rising star in the 1976 film Goodbye, Norma Jean. Rowe’s role highlights the period when Monroe worked to shed her Norma Jean image and started embracing the Monroe personality as she grew in the industry.

Four years later, Catherine Hicks took a stab at playing the iconic actor. Her time as Monroe in Marilyn: The Untold Story focused on the actor’s tumultuous upbringing and her equally turbulent marriages.

Others who have played Monroe include Poppy Montgomery, Theresa Russell, and Paula Lane. Netflix recently dropped a trailer for a Monroe movie titled Blonde. The movie starring Ana de Armas debuts in September 2022.

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