Naomi Watts: A ‘Fragile’ Blonde


“I’m not especially comfortable playing damsels in distress,” the Australian actress Naomi Watts tells Nancy Mills of The Scotsman. “I like to play women who appear to be that but, at the last minute, show they’re anything but.”

This could be a description of Marilyn Monroe, who Watts is set to play in Andrew Dominik’s big-screen adaptation of Blonde (a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, based on Monroe’s life.)

Blonde has not yet begun production, but is already causing quite a stir in Hollywood. It is due out in 2012, which also marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death.

“Everyone thinks, ‘Ooh, Marilyn Monroe,”‘ Watts says, “but it’s not a glossy picture. It’s quite dark, but a great story.”

The two actresses would seem to have little in common, apart from their hair colour, but Watts sees more to it. “I get her fragility, definitely,” she says.

“I feel like I’m a fairly fragile person,” Watts admits. “It’s pretty easy for me to get upset or emotional, but not tough or angry. Having said that, I think I’ve survived certain situations that have made me tougher and made me pull through. Even this whole thing about being an actor – that took a long time. I don’t feel like I had thick skin, but the fact that I stayed there knocking away at it must make me resilient.”

“I am interested in dark things,” she adds. “I’m not afraid of them. We all have a dark side. It’s a matter of whether you want to embrace it or not. I’m willing to explore it, but it’s not going to eat me up.”

Funny Girls: Marilyn as Sugar Kane

Film critic Saul Austerlitz salutes Hollywood’s greatest female comics today on WowOwow

Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
A deliriously gender-bending exercise in over-the-top comic mania, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece features the best-ever performance from that underrated comedic master, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe sparkles as a romantic heroine with a self-deprecating streak, and Lemmon and Curtis are an ideal odd couple, years before Lemmon starred in “The Odd Couple.” “Nobody’s perfect,” as the film deliciously reminds us, but “Some Like It Hot” comes close.

Vanity Fair: Analysing Marilyn

page 146

Pardon me
are you the janitors wife

page 147
caught a Greyhound
Bus from Monterey to Salinas. On the
Bus I was the person
woman with about
sixty Italian fishermen
and I’ve never met
sixty such charming gentlemen—they
were wonderful. Some
company was sending them
downstate where their boats
and (they hoped) fish were
waiting for them. Some
could hardly speak english
not only do I love Greeks
[illegible] I love Italians.
they’re warm, lusty and friendly
as hell—I’d love to go to
Italy someday.

From a 1951 notebook, written by Marilyn during filming of Love Nest. The first line is from the script; the second may have been written during filming of Clash by Night in Monterey less than a year later, shortly after her love affair with Italian-American baseball star Joe DiMaggio began.

This and other excerpts from Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters are featured in ‘Marilyn and her Monsters’, an article for November’s Vanity Fair. A complementary piece, ‘The Writing on the Wall’, analyses Marilyn’s large, extravagantly looped handwriting (which I have often seen as a reflection of her open, generous yet somehow elusive spirit.)

Essence of Marilyn

Photo by Ben Ross

“Marilyn was a master of the true star’s technique: drawing out the process of emoting, so those watching could see every iota of reaction on her face…She hid nothing physically, an instructive habit for any performer to emulate.”

An interesting article by Kathleen Lake, exploring Marilyn’s charisma and screen technique, with some good advice for actors and lookalikes.