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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

On "My week with Marilyn", Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier


I watched "My week with Marilyn" a long time ago, exactly when it came out. At the time, all I cared about was Marilyn Monroe, and of course, the actress playing her- Michelle Williams. As you probably have known, this film depicts Marilyn and the making of "The prince and the showgirl". The fact is, I do remember and have sometimes talked to my mom about the difference between Marilyn and the actor working opposite her in the film, he a real actor, a serious actor, with training and experience in both films and theatre, and she a film star, a sex symbol, acting very spontaneously depending on her mood and emotions. My memory may be distorted, but, even though I did like Marilyn, I didn't dislike that serious actor at all- he's understandable, Marilyn's always late. I could also see how a great and acclaimed actor could feel about someone who didn't really have the ability to act. 
As a matter of fact, I must say, at the time I didn't care to remember who the actor was. I didn't know who he was. I do remember, when watching the film, feeling a bit annoyed with the casting of Julia Ormond for the role of Vivien Leigh, but didn't care very much either, because even though I had already liked Vivien at the time, only now am I officially a fan (besides, for your information, last night I watched "That Hamilton woman", so now I've seen her in 5 films). So now I've just found out that the actor collaborating with Marilyn was actually Laurence Olivier. It was when I read on vivandlarry site that at some point he said, in a frank but polite and not very harsh way, that to him "poor Marilyn" was more like a model than an actress and perhaps  deep down inside she didn't want to be an actress either because she always showed up late, sometimes 3 hours late. I remember that detail in "My week with Marilyn", and also what she said. As I watched this film, I sympathised with her and thought, although other people weren't wrong, they simply didn't try to understand her. 
However, having known that the actor was Larry, I have to say, with some sadness and resentment, that I have changed my mind. Only because of the simple fact that he was Larry and was Vivien's husband. 1st, he's a very famous, experienced, successful and acclaimed actor. 2nd, Marilyn Monroe was never a very good actress, people often say, and I also see it in "The misfits", and as already written, I like her, I like her very much, but not as an actress. 3rd, Vivien Leigh was never a sex symbol, and didn't consider herself as a film star either- she's a marvellous beauty, a great actress, a true legend. With experience in both films and theatre. I like her as Anna Karenina in the 1948 version, as Myra Lester in "Waterloo bridge" (1940), as Emma Lady Hamilton in "That Hamilton woman" (1941), but I think she's at her best when playing complicated, multifaceted roles such as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the wind" (1939) and Blanche DuBois in "A streetcar named Desire" (1951). 4th, also because Larry's Vivien's husband, people can't really criticise him for lack of understanding. I've read many times that Vivien loved acting and worked very hard, even when she was ill. In a letter from someone to Larry, that person wrote, the film was killing Vivien. Yet she herself never complained. I guess you don't know, but, Vivien Leigh had quite poor health- bipolar disorder and later, tuberculosis and some other illnesses. Somewhere, people even say that at times she came to the set after shock treatments, but didn't miss a beat. It's another story if the actor had been somebody else, but it's Laurence Olivier, and he was Vivien Leigh's husband. 
Maybe, more than once in 1 way or another Larry humiliated Marilyn, but how can you expect him to think Marilyn was OK? And of course, he was even more annoyed when people treated her like a queen only because she's a film star, not a real actress. 

PS: I, despite everything, will watch "The prince and the showgirl". Just to know, and I will comment on it.  

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