Marilyn Monroe And The 6 Actresses That Brought Her Story To Life Ahead Of …

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’: Star Kelli Garner not sure if screen legend was mentally ill.

There’s something so haunting, so ethereal, so hip-swayingly seductive about Marilyn Monroe, the foster child born Norma Jeane Mortenson who died in 1962 as one of the world’s most enigmatic, enduring stars.The actress, starring in Lifetime’s miniseries ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,’ tells Pret-a-Reporter how the late beauty icon influenced her style.

Perhaps that’s why a half-dozen or more TV actors, from Mira Sorvino (the 1996 TV movie Norma Jean & Marilyn) to Michelle Williams (2011’s My Week with Marilyn) have tackled Monroe. What sets this latest rehash of the star’s existence apart, marginally, is a knockout performance by Kelli Garner and, to a lesser degree, Susan Sarandon’s turn as her mentally disturbed mother, the relationship through which everything else about the girl born Norma Jean is filtered.

Randy Taraborrelli’s New York Times best-seller of the same name), the network’s two-night miniseries premiering May 30, reveals she was drawn to this particular story for “the issues of mental health the series deals with. The two-parter’s framing device relies on Marilyn, near what will tragically be the end of her life, pouring her heart and entire history out to a psychologist (Jack Noseworthy), who patiently listens as she flashes back through it all. Monroe’s mother Gladys Mortenson, aptly played by Susan Sarandon, was in and out of mental hospitals, and this project implies that Monroe inherited her mother’s illness. “For me, I approached this as historical fiction,” Garner tells FOX411, “but her mother was definitely diagnosed schizophrenic. That begins with being taken away from her mom (played in those early scenes by Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri Martino), being raised for a time by a guardian she came to know as Aunt Grace (Emily Watson), and spending time in an orphanage, marrying at 16 solely because she needed a place to stay. Garner admits to not being familiar with Monroe’s life story, and to only having seen two of her movies — “Some Like it Hot” and “The Seven Year Itch,” so she began her study by viewing the rest of Monroe’s films, reading the biography, and looking at interviews and photos. “I was really uneducated about her as an actress,” Garner says. “After I saw the script, which I loved, and after I saw ‘The Misfits’ … I think ‘The Misfits’ was my way into finding her.

Then I just started trying to trust myself and my instincts.” To land the role, Garner, who previously starred in the 1960s-set series “Pan Am,” donned a red, polka dot dress, and spent three hours utilizing the vintage makeup and hair tricks she had learned on her previous job, transforming herself into a version of Monroe. Night two, meanwhile, kicks off with Marilyn initiating her torrid romance with Joe DiMaggio (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, overlapping his work in another A&E Networks miniseries, “Texas Rising”), followed by playwright Arthur Miller (Stephen Bogaert). Kennedy, yes, that’s included too, but the senator-turned-President remains discretely off-screen, although there’s still an excuse to show Garner in the knockout gossamer dress Monroe famously wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. I ended up wearing seven wigs within the mini-series.” And even with a professional team creating the look, Garner had her reservations. “I knew everyone was talented, but I felt so relieved that I didn’t look silly, so that I could do the best job without being self-conscious. Beyond looking the part, Garner replicates Monroe’s voice and mannerisms without falling into caricature, which, given the episodic nature of the material, is an accomplishment indeed.

I was, ‘I am in this iconic hair and makeup getup, am I going to feel great?’ They did a great job.” “She’s so smart as a woman,” she says. “It was great just getting to spend time with her and see how she interacts on set and the choices she makes. Marilyn, as usual, is portrayed as an object mostly of pity, someone who tells her agent, “Everyone uses everyone,” having been on both sides of the equation. There’s so many different dimensions to her.” Williams earned an Oscar nomination for portraying one period in Monroe’s life—the time she went to England to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl. I think I might have shed a tear at one point because everyone just worked so hard, and I’ll never look more beautiful than being made up to try and look like the most beautiful woman that quite possibly ever walked the face of the Earth. Indeed, when DiMaggio flies into a jealous rage while watching her skirt blown up filming “The Seven Year Itch,” it is, to quote another Yankee, deja vu all over again.

Part of the allure surrounding Monroe, of course — who would be 88 if she were still alive — is that she remains frozen in time, an ageless icon of Hollywood glamour. Perhaps that’s why, every few years, someone feels inclined to exhume her — extracting a bit more glow from a candle that never burns out for long.

She says she studied hours of interviews, mimicking Monroe’s breathy way of speaking, and her very specific posture: She always sat with her feet pointed and she stuck her tongue out when she was nervous. “We didn’t want to make a caricature. She knew how to draw attention to the right parts of herself,” says Garner. “The only performance I’d seen was Michelle Williams’, which was quite beautiful. She wasn’t on a pedestal,” says Miranda Banks, associate professor in the school of visual arts at Emerson College. “She wasn’t standoffish; she was playful,” Banks says. “She had humor rather than a sense of someone who had to be idolized. They reconstructed to the exact outfit that you see she [actually wore]: a little red striped shirt, these tiny Daisy Duke white overalls and big ol’ ’40s heels. A mix of vintage that was all taken in to fit my body, and a lot of the dresses were made from scratch by beautiful seamstresses — we had about seven of them.

You pay me and I get an outfit.” (Laughs.) They were like, “OK, whatever you want as long as you keep giving us some good dailies.” So yeah, I’m supposed to have like 20 outfits and they were all made either for me or altered to my body so they should be mine. She put me in a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana white strapless silk gown at the Golden Globes once, and it was just so simple and understated — I was like, “I like this woman” because you know, as I’m learning about what my style is, the more effortless, simple, sexy, but not overtly [sexy], that’s it — clean lines, cool colors.

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