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Blonde: release date, cast and everything we know about the Marilyn Monroe biopic

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde
Ana de Armas in Blonde (Image credit: Netflix)

Marilyn Monroe is a Hollywood legend, just as famous for her work on screen as she was for being a fashion icon and the subject of celebrity gossip off of it. Marilyn is back on the big screen (or at least streaming) with the 2022 movie Blonde, featuring Ana de Armas as Monroe.

This is far from the first time that Monroe has been the subject of a movie. There have been multiple documentaries about the actress, including a 2022 addition from NetflixThe Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes. There have also been two previous fiction movies about Monroe, Marilyn and Me with Susan Griffins as Monroe and My Week with Marilyn, where Michelle Williams took on the role and received an Oscar nomination.

Blonde, however, is receiving buzz beyond just the fact that it is a biopic of Marilyn Monroe or that de Armas is the latest actress to portray her. Let’s dig into all of that right here as we review everything you need to know about Blonde.

When is the Blonde release date?

Blonde is set for release on Netflix on September 23.

As shown in the teaser trailer, which you can watch below, that date is prefaced with "only on Netflix," hinting that Blonde may be skipping a run in movie theaters. However, if Blonde wants to compete for Oscars, it will need to have some kind of play in movie theaters, as the Academy Awards has restored the rule that any movie wanting to be considered for awards needs to have a theatrical release (opens in new tab) between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. So don’t be surprised if Netflix gets Blonde into theaters for at least a week before it debuts on streaming. 

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde

Ana de Armas in Blonde (Image credit: Netflix)

It’s certainly no easy job stepping into the shoes of a legend, but Ana de Armas is taking it on as she stars as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.

Ana de Armas has quickly become an A-list actress. Her first major Hollywood roles came in 2016 when she starred in Hands of Stone and War Dogs, then she was part of two blockbuster movies in Blade Runner 2049 and Knives Out, which helped make her a household name. More recently she starred in Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie, No Time to Die and then earlier in 2022 had Deep Water alongside Ben Affleck.

It’s a busy 2022 for de Armas. In addition to Deep Water and now Blonde in the fall, she is also starring in Netflix’s Gray Man with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans.

Speaking on Blonde to Queue (opens in new tab), de Armas was drawn to the role because of writer/director Andrew Dominik’s vision for depicting Marilyn Monroe:

"Andrew’s ambitions were very clear from the start — to present a version of Marilyn Monroe’s life through her lens," de Armas said. "He wanted the world to experience what it actually felt like to not only be Marilyn, but also Norma Jeane. I found that to be the most daring, unapologetic, and feminist take on her story that I had ever seen."

Is there a Blonde trailer?

Fans have their first look at Blonde with a teaser trailer. In it, we see Ana de Armas’ Monroe apparently begging for someone to "please come" and a makeup artist assuring her that "she’s coming." We then get a few splices of some iconic Monroe moments and the craze that she endured as a celebrity to the final shot that sees the distraught look from the beginning of the trailer change in the mirror to a striking, confident Marilyn Monroe. Watch the teaser right here: 

What is the plot of Blonde?

Blonde is a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe’s life, based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates (opens in new tab). The movie is expected to look at the vulnerable woman, Norma Jeane, behind the Hollywood icon of Marilyn Monroe, including detailing the traumatic childhood and "the conflict that results as an adult between her very public and private selves."

What is Blonde rated?

One of the biggest headlines of Blonde ahead of its release has been the rating that it has received. Blonde has officially been rated NC-17 in the US, as confirmed in the teaser trailer (there is no UK rating to date). This is one reason why a theatrical release for Blonde may still be up in the air, as many movie theaters opt not to play NC-17 movies. The rating was reportedly handed out because of what has been described as "shocking, explicit scenes."

Director Andrew Dominik, however, told Vulture (opens in new tab) that he was surprised that Blonde received an NC-17 rating, but he believes that is the more interesting story to be told.

"I think if I’m given the choice, I’d rather go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story. Because 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 that sanitized version?"

Who is in the Blonde cast?

Ana de Armas isn’t the only big name in the Blonde cast. Joining her Marilyn Monroe are going to be Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), Garret Dillahunt (Ambulance), Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown), Sara Paxton (Good Girls) and Scoot McNairy (Godless), among others.

According to IMDb, Brody is playing a character called "The Playwright" and Bobby Cannavale is playing "The Ex-Athlete." Though they are not named directly, for those who are aware of Marilyn Monroe’s marital history can likely guess that these characters are based on Arthur Miller (The Playwright) and Joe DiMaggio (The Ex-Athlete).

Who is director Andrew Dominik?

Andrew Dominik the writer and director of Blonde. His first feature movie was Chopper in 2000, but his most recognized movie is 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford that starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. He would go on to direct Pitt again in the dark satire Killing Them Softly.

Since 2012, Dominik has directed a pair of documentaires — One More Time With Feeling and This Much I Know to Be True — as well as two episodes of the Netflix series Mindhunter. Blonde is his first narrative movie since Killing Them Softly.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.