August 5th 2012 marked 50 years since the passing of Marilyn Monroe. 50 years on and people still adore her. For me, the fascination lies in the unknown… in not understanding what was really going on behind her doe eyes. Fame is fickle and it feels strange to me that someone I have never met, nor even seen in the flesh, can be so hypnotising. Because of people like me, there’s a market to tell Monroe’s story, along with the stories of other Hollywood personas who reached dizzying infamy.
My Week With Marilyn was a recent cinematic release based on the book The Prince, The Showgirl and Me by Colin Clark. These are Clark’s true recounts of events from a week on set with Marilyn during which he had varying interactions with her. While this movie is not Monroe’s biography, it told her story perfectly. Perhaps this was because Michelle Williams did the role such justice. I’ll be honest, no matter how well written the script, as a fan of Monroe I probably wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this movie if I didn’t believe or enjoy the work of the actress cast in her part. I have always found Michelle Williams to be a captivating and meticulous actress but I was admittedly skeptical. However, she knocked this one out of the park Joe DiMaggio style! It helped that she had incredible support on-screen, including Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott (pictured with Williams below) flawlessly filling the thick rimmed glasses of Arthur Miller.
It was heart wrenching to witness the obvious emotion and longing shown by Williams, blanketed by the false confidence provided when assuming the role of ‘Marilyn’. In honour of Monroe and Williams’ stellar portrayal of her, I have listed my five favourite Hollywood actors/actresses playing other famous personalities. Williams is obviously my number 1.
So that brings me to number 2. Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Elvis Presley in the TV movie Elvis.
Elvis, like Monroe, has had and will continue to have his story told time and time again. Big names have portrayed Presley such as Kurt Russell (who I also adore) but it was the curled upper lip of Meyers who truly convinced me he could be the King.
Number 3. Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line.
And for that matter, Reese Witherspoon as June Carter-Cash as well. I’m not the biggest Cash fan but I do think Phoenix and Witherspoon told their story beautifully. Phoenix was such a spot on casting move.
Number 4. James Franco as James Dean in the TV movie James Dean.
These two heart-throbs certainly share more than just the first name. Franco plays the rebel without a cause with such ease, that you don’t for one second doubt he could actually be James Dean.
Number 5. Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy in The Kennedys.
I remember seeing the shorts for this TV miniseries and being blown away by the resemblance between JFK and Kinnear. Kinnear is a charming actor and fit the bill for this role perfectly.
Okay so I said my top 5 but I do have to list Cate Blanchett here. Anyone as fair and ethereal as her who can pull off both the strong and glamorous Katharine Hepburn (in The Aviator) and grungy Bob Dylan (in I’m Not There) has to get special mention.