Julianne Nicholson On Playing Marilyn’s Mother

Most recently seen in HBO’s Mare of Easttown, actress Julianne Nicholson has spoken to Vanity Fair about her role as Marilyn’s mother Gladys in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, currently set for an autumn release. Gladys was 24 when Marilyn was born, and 60 when she died.

Despite being largely absent from Marilyn’s daily life due to her severe mental illness, Gladys is a major character in Blonde, with Nicholson billed fourth in the film’s IMDB listing. (Aside from leading lady Ana de Armas, other stars include Bobby Cannavale as Joe DiMaggio, and Adrian Brody as Arthur Miller.)

“I loved Marilyn Monroe. When I was in high school, I watched all her movies and had a little cassette, The Best of Marilyn, that I memorized, and had posters all over my room. If you had told me when I was 16 years old that I would be in a real movie playing her mom, I wouldn’t have believed you. [And] to work with Andrew [Dominik, director] felt exciting. And Ana de Armas! I don’t know if you’ve seen any photos of her as Marilyn, but … I had to play her mom at, like, age 60, so I had all this aging makeup on, and then I would just look over at her and this luminous skin, and it’s just Marilyn Monroe beaming back at me. Like, fuck. But it was fun. It was challenging. I had to drive this 1920s car in Griffith Park at night with smoke, and I’ve never even driven a stick before. There’s no power steering. I had to do a three-point turn … I haven’t seen it, but I have a feeling [Blonde] will be something that people talk about. The script is kind of a shocker.”