Michelle Williams just finished shooting My Week with Marilyn, which was based off the book that Colin Clarke (a production assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier) wrote while he, Monroe and Olivier were on the set of the movie, The Prince and The Showgirl. The book chronicles the tension that Monroe and Olivier experienced while working together, and in honor of the film’s upcoming November release, Williams appears on the cover of the October issue of Vogue as the blonde bombshell and explains what her experience was like playing the Hollywood icon.
A good part of the article was aptly spent talking about how Williams prepared for the role, and the actress described how for six months, she surrounded herself with biographies, poems, notes, diary entries, movies, photographs and everything else Monroe she could get her hands on. She said, “I’d go to bed every night with a stack of books next to me. And I’d fall asleep to movies of her. It was like when you’re a kid and you’d put a book under your pillow hoping you’d get it by osmosis.” But not every part of Williams’ preparation was easy — she recalled how the task of gaining weight to attain Monroe’s infamous curves was so difficult that she ended up electing to enhance her body with foam padding, saying “Unfortunately, [the weight] went right to my face. So at some point it became a question of, Do I want my face to look like Marilyn Monroe’s or my hips?” But after all was said and done, Williams said the process of assuming Monroe’s identity was a memorable one: “It felt like being reborn,” she said. “It felt like breaking my body and remaking it in her image, learning how she walked and talked and held her head. None of that existed in my physical memory, and I knew I needed as much time as possible to make it part of me.”
Williams also explained how the journey of playing Marilyn Monroe taught her a great deal about the power of a woman’s sexuality. She said, “Any messages that I got as a child about what it is to have a woman’s body or to be sexual were all negative — that people wouldn’t take you seriously or that they would take advantage of you…The expectation to be beautiful always makes me feel ugly because I feel like I can’t life up to it.” But she went on to remember how one day on the set, she finally experienced the good part of having sex appeal: “I do remember one moment of being all suited up as Marilyn and walking from my dressing room onto the soundstage and practicing my wiggle,” she said. “There were three or four men gathered around a truck, and I remember seeing that they were watching me come and feeling that they were watching me go — and for the first time I glimpsed some idea of the pleasure I could take in that kind of attention; not their pleasure by my pleasure. And I thought, Oh, maybe Marilyn felt that when she walked down the beach.”
Williams also answered the question that everyone wants the answer to, which is if she’s dating anyone. She was pretty open about the details of her love life and said, “I’m single, so it’s still kind of a mystery — a worthwhile mystery, one that I want to be on the scent of. I’m not lonely, and I think that has a lot to do with what’s on my bedside table rather than what’s in my bed.” And with that, it sounds a bit like playing Monroe has affected her even more than she originally thought.