10 Most Accurate Portrayals Of Marilyn Monroe In Biopics


1950’s cinema wouldn’t be the same without the icon Marilyn Monroe, and Netflix’s new biopic, Blonde, portrays her life as a beloved actress. She left a major mark on pop culture and since her untimely, tragic death in 1962 at the age of 36, the sensational star has been brought back to life, time and time again on both the big and small screen.

Many actresses have attempted to capture her rare spirit and pure charisma, but not all have been able to nail her mannerisms, speech and overall allure. From Michelle Williams to Poppy Montgomery, these are the best portrayals of the Hollywood icon.


Mira Sorvino – Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996)

Norma Jean & Marilyn was a made-for-TV biographical film created by HBO, which featured Mira Sorvino as the persona of Marilyn Monroe. One thing that makes this biopic unique is that there are two actresses playing Marilyn, both before and after her rise to fame, with Ashley Judd portraying the pre-fame Norma Jean Dougherty.

Related: Marilyn Monroe’s 10 Best Quotes From Real Life

Mira Sorvino’s Marilyn fights to repress her past, attempting to “kill” her old self by changing her name and her looks. Ahead of the 2022 Netflix film Blonde, Sorvino tweeted that “it was a huge honor and tremendous challenge playing the great Marilyn Monroe.” Sorvino “wanted to do right by her” and clearly put a lot of time and effort into perfecting her character.

Susan Griffiths – Marilyn And Me (1991)

This 1991 biopic shows Marilyn’s transformation from the girl next door to Hollywood icon, through the eyes of the journalist who claimed to have married her. Although the movie focuses more on their relationship, Susan Griffiths appears to have an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn and accurately displays her mannerisms down to a tee.

Griffiths had already been working as a Monroe impersonator before she got this role, and when interviewed by Tamela D’Amico, she said, “I had mastered making her facial expressions and body movements second nature, so it was more natural, less contrived.” Griffiths put her heart and soul into this role, and the audience could tell.

Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn (2011)

My Week With Marilyn tells the story of Colin, an aspiring director who meets Monroe and forms a bond with her during a film shoot. Although Michelle Williams doesn’t look exactly like Monroe, she captures her spirit and gives a mesmerizing performance throughout the film.

In an interview with CBS News, Williams revealed that she “walked around with a belt tied around her knees” to get Monroe’s signature figure eight walk. Marilyn Monroe is a role Williams “would be happy to play for the rest of her life.” Michelle Williams earned a lot of praise for her superb acting and clear dedication to the role.

Ashley Judd – Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996)

The second actress playing Marilyn in this biopic, Ashley Judd plays Norma Jean, Marilyn before the fame as the girl-next-door type, before the transformation into the Hollywood starlet she was known as. Judd’s Norma Jean is tenacious and resilient, and nails her mannerisms as a young Marilyn Monroe before the stardom, revealing more secrets about the mystery of her troubled childhood.

Related: Marilyn Monroe’s Top 10 Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

Speaking to The New York Times in 1996, Judd said of Monroe that “she was mesmerizing, dazzlingly beautiful, and American archetype in terms of coming from nothing and getting everything.” She also said that “she’s a great lesson. Success means nothing if you have no inner peace.” Judd earned both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her role.

Kelli Garner – The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe (2015)

This miniseries starring Kelli Garner as Monroe delves deeper into her childhood and trauma surrounding her mother, played by Susan Sarandon. Garner’s performance was full of passion, and shows a darker side to her personal life which, mostly, hasn’t been seen before.

She plays her in the most respectful way possible, and the performance comes across as something natural. When speaking to Vanity Fair back in 2015, Garner said, “I read the script, and the book, which was really beautifully written. I felt like there was a lot to do.” She also believes that “every young actress has a little Marilyn in her” showing her love for the icon, and her understanding of what she went through in the industry.

Melody Anderson – Marilyn And Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993)

This movie mainly focuses of the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and The Kennedys, but Anderson gives an incredible performance and her portrayal makes for some interesting viewing.

An article written for UPI stated that “Anderson prepared for the part by reading eight Monroe biographies and watching her movies,” showing her dedication to the role by spending her time doing research. “Her voice quality changed on film and she behaved very differently than when she was being herself. She could turn Marilyn Monroe and and off”.

Charlotte Sullivan – The Kennedys (2011)

This 2011 miniseries told the story of America’s “royal family” as they navigated through political and social turmoil after the Second World War. Sullivan’s performance as Monroe in the show wasn’t the most accurate, but the audience got to see the well-known scenes between the public figures and the actors brought them to life, especially Sullivan.

Related: 10 Best Marilyn Monroe Movies Ranked (According To IMDB)

Speaking to The Toronto Sun, Sullivan “didn’t do any research on the Kennedys.” She also said, “I wanted to make her as real as humanly possible. She was one of the most compelling and intelligent human beings.” The way she spoke in the movie mirrored that of Monroe and the way she spoke.

Poppy Montgomery – Blonde (2001)

The TV series adaptation of the novel written by Joyce Carol Oates shows the story of how Norma became Marilyn. Poppy Montgomery gives an amazing performance as Marilyn and brings the character to life, once again.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly back in 2001, Montgomery said that her mother told her: “You’ve been rehearsing for it your whole life,” showing Montgomery’s love of the character. The director, Joyce Chopra, said that “Poppy in no way set out to imitate Marilyn, and I think she achieved a resemblance and was able to create a living, breathing character.”

Catherine Hicks – Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)

This 1980 TV film starring Catherine Hicks shows the start of Marilyn’s career and her traumatic childhood with her mother. Hicks is shown to have taken this role very seriously, as Marilyn Monroe’s mannerisms, quotes and even her voice accurately match that of Marilyn’s.

Hicks had already played Monroe in a few productions while studying at college, and feels that Marilyn was still a part of her. In an interview with TV Store Online, Hicks said, “When I think about her, I’m never thinking that it’s an adoration of a great movie star, but that she’s my older sister. I felt then, that I have to act as a sort of Defense Attorney on her behalf so that her story is told.” Hicks clearly cared about Monroe’s truth and portrayed that to the best of her ability.

Misty Rowe – Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976)

Misty Rowe’s performance as Marilyn Monroe in this 1976 biopic might not be the most accurate, but Rowe definitely cares about the character and is able to bring her memory back to the viewers while certainly looking the part.

Rowe was the first actress to play Monroe in a biopic, and Cosmopolitan said that she “plays one of Hollywood’s most tragic sex symbols well enough to stand the comparison.” Rowe also told The Irish World, “It was hard playing her. It’s called ‘Goodbye, Norma Jean‘ because it’s really about the end of the girl, and the beginning of a star.” Rowe also said that “It was a lot of pressure being the first actress to play Marilyn Monroe on TV.” She reprised her role in “Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn” in 1989.

Next: 10 Little Known Facts About Marilyn Monroe


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