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Marilyn’s ghost got physical in filming of ‘Blonde’, star says

By Crispian Balmer

VENICE (Reuters) – The ghost of Marilyn Monroe made her presence felt during the filming of a fictionalised biopic of her life ‘Blonde’, throwing things around when she got angry, the actress who portrayed her, Ana de Armas, said on Thursday.

The Netflix movie, directed by Andrew Dominik, is getting its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, exploring a few key moments of the troubled life of an enduring Hollywood icon.

“I truly believe that she was very close to us. She was with us,” said the Cuban-born actress, who needed voice coaching to disguise her Spanish accent and capture the essence of Monroe.

“I think she was happy. She would also throw things off the wall sometimes and get mad if she didn’t like something,” she told reporters. “Maybe this sounds very mystical, but it is true. We all felt it.”

The Australian director said filming started on Aug. 4, the anniversary of her death in 1962 from an overdose when she was just 36.

The initial scenes were shot in the same apartment where Marilyn, then called Norma Jeane Baker, had lived with her mentally ill mother. The death scene was also shot in the same room where the famed actress had died.

“It definitely took on elements of being like a seance,” said Dominik, who spent more than a decade trying to bring the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oatesby to the screen.

Even though de Armas had a strong Spanish accent, Dominik said he was convinced she could play the demanding lead role after seeing her in a 2015 film “Knock Knock”.

“I knew it was her as soon as I saw her on TV. It is a little bit like when you fall in love at first sight, when the right person walks through the door you know it,” he said.

De Armas admitted that she knew little about Monroe, an emblem of 20th Century America, when she took the role, but said she immersed herself in the character before filming started.

“She was all I thought about, she was all I dreamt about, she was all I could talk about, she was with me and it was beautiful,” she said.

“Blonde”, which also stars Adrien Brody and Julianne Nicholson, is one of 23 films competing for the main Golden Lion award which will be handed out on Sept. 10.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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