Elisabeth Moss on Marilyn’s ‘Heartbreaking Genius’

In an interview with GQ magazine ,actress Elisabeth Moss has explained how Marilyn influenced her in playing a tortured rock star in the movie Her Smell, which has just been released in the US. She also studied other self-destructive artists who battled with drug and alcohol problems and mental illness, including Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. (When Elisabeth talks about watching Marilyn being interviewed, she may be referring to documentaries like Marilyn Vs. Marilyn and Love, Marilyn, which intersperse audio clips with archive footage. There are relatively few recorded interviews with Marilyn.)

“GQ: I know you prepared for Her Smell by studying behind-the-scenes docs of Marilyn Monroe. I’m curious if that affected how you thought about Marilyn Monroe.

Elisabeth Moss: Some of the stuff that I saw was just her vulnerability and how messed up she was on drugs and how fragile she was. And people were just pretending like it was normal and not acknowledging it. I remember this one interview I watched where she was clearly in a really bad place, and clearly on some sort of pills, and she was so fragile and vulnerable. It sort of broke your heart to see somebody like that who’s such a genius artist but is just struggling so much and nobody’s helping her. She seems so alone.”

Elisabeth Moss Inspired by Marilyn

Actress Elisabeth Moss – whose performances in Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale won widespread acclaim – has told IndieWire that Marilyn was among the troubled stars who influenced her latest role as a self-destructive rock singer in Her Smell, which just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and is currently seeking a US distributor.

“I watched any music documentary I could get my hands on, honestly. All the usual suspects, ‘Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,’ which I’d already seen but now I’ve seen a million times, ‘Amy,’ the Amy Winehouse documentary. And also things on Marilyn Monroe, like that kind of thing, just to get a grasp of that fame and that addiction. Anything I could find about somebody who was incredibly famous or successful, but also dealing with addiction, was very helpful.”