In the tradition of PREFONTAINE and WITHOUT LIMITS, and CAPOTE and INFAMOUS, we've suddenly got a pair of competing Marilyn Monroe biopics speeding toward production.
In case you're wondering what took so long, here's a succinct answer...
With the curvy exception of Christina Hendricks, that's a body type Hollywood vehemently discourages nowadays.
There's also the none-too-small matter of Marilyn Monroe's winningly flighty charm, the likes of which we haven't seen since Norma Jeane Baker passed away in 1962. Given her iconic status, this is a potentially treacherous role. And while it's one thing to imitate Monroe the performer, I imagine it'll be quite a tall order to get across her erratic offscreen nature. Was Monroe being exploited, or was she a semi-willing participant in sending up her ditzy persona in classics like THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH or SOME LIKE IT HOT?
Of the two recently announced projects (via Deadline London), I'm most interested in BLONDE, principally because it will be director Andrew Dominik's follow-up to THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. Inevitable body issues aside, I'm also intrigued by the idea of Naomi Watts as Marilyn; she's got old-school glamour, and conveyed a certain Monroe-ish daffiness in David O. Russell's I HEART HUCKABEES.
The immensely talented Michelle Williams will star in the other film, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, which will be focused on Monroe's participation in Laurence Olivier's THE PRINCESS AND THE SHOWGIRLS - which means someone also gets the unenviable task of playing arguably the greatest actor of the twentieth century (Ralph Fiennes was cast, but dropped out to direct a film version of CORIOLANUS)! British television director Simon Curtis will be at the helm. Interestingly, Scarlett Johansson passed on this project because she considered playing Marilyn to be a "thankless task". She's probably right, but she's also one of the few A-list actresses who's close to having Monroe's figure.
The Weinstein Company plans to start production on MY WEEK WITH MARILYN this September, while Wild Bunch's BLONDE is scheduled to begin principal photography in January 2011. Best of luck to both teams.