Branagh: Monroe Had Mystique In Pre-Web Age

Sky News, 27 November 2011
By Lucy Cotter      [Watch a video of the interview on the site]
* Thanks Jude

Kenneth Branagh, who is in a new film about Marilyn Monroe, has said the actress was an exotic sex symbol who was far more famous in her day than any current stars.

The British actor plays Sir Lawrence Olivier in 'My Week With Marilyn' and told Sky News she had mystique in a pre-internet age where the power of the movies gave her an extra special allure.

He said: "Someone like Marilyn on the movie screen was as far away and exotic as you could be. When she arrived at Heathrow in 1956, the traffic stopped because Marilyn arrived.

"Not only did she come from Hollywood, but she brought sex. Britain was being taken out of its post-war austerity and Marilyn was a symbol of this new freedom."

'My Week With Marilyn' documents the time the blonde bombshell spent filming 'The Prince and The Showgirl' with Olivier. Branagh said the shoot was tense because Olivier and Monroe were often at loggerheads, but there was no denying the attraction of his leading lady.

He said: "She was such an enormous movie star at the time and she was someone that everyone wanted to know about and, perhaps, everyone thought they knew and that still seems to be the case.

"Everyone wanted to fix her. She was unutterably thrilling, shocking to some, outrageous, but she could not be ignored. She was an enormous star."

Many people have mimicked Monroe but few have been brave enough to play her. That difficult task fell to the actress Michelle Williams, whose performance has impressed critics.

Williams said she had to try and ignore the pressure when she took on the role. She said: "So many people have so many ideas about who Marilyn was.

"At a certain point, after you've done your research, you have to filter all the noise out and you have to pin something down and say, 'Okay, this is my Marilyn.' This is how I see her, how I interpret her, and I hope I do it justice. It's a personal relationship."

As the film opens, a new book has also been published looking at William Travilla, the costume designer who dressed the legend. Travilla created the costumes for eight of her films from 1953 to 1956, including the white dress she so famously modelled during 'The Seven Year Itch'.

Andrew Hansford, the author of Dressing Marilyn, told Sky the actress was a dream to dress and is still as popular now as she ever was. He said: "People just wanted to emulate her in a way. They still do. She's got the most lookalikes.

"She makes the most money every year to this day on the copyright deals and everything else. She sells."

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