The appeal of Marilyn Monroe remains so potent, even the actress who plays the Hollywood icon in the miniseries “The Kennedys” fell for her.
“Whatever she did, I'm under the spell,” Canadian actress Charlotte Sullivan tells PopcornBiz. As Monroe, Sullivan dallies with JFK, makes a play for brother Bobby and otherwise threatens to detonate a sex bomb as potentially devastating to the clan as the missiles in Cuba. “There's so many different stories about her. I became obsessed with her, even after – I'm still entranced by her.”
“I didn't do any research on the Kennedys – I focused all my research on her,” Sullivan says. “And I wanted to make her as real as humanly possible, because I think you think of her as this movie star. And she was a really beautiful human, yes, but also one of the most compelling and intelligent human beings. I obviously became obsessed with YouTube, but I also tried to read as many books as possible. Unfortunately, her diary [was published] after we shot, which broke my heart into a million pieces. I wanted that diary so badly! But even with all the information that's out there, no one will ever know her.”
For Sullivan – who also stars in ABC’s returning cop drama “Rookie Blue” – one of the most effective ways to get under Monroe’s skin was through the sex symbol’s fabulous outer layer – the extravagant clothes, the platinum blonde hair, the perfectly lacquered lipstick, etc.
“It was imperative – I needed it,” Sullivan says. “If I didn't have it, even in the ADR when you do additional voice recording when I was wearing sweatpants, I thought 'This is the wrong way to go about this. Next time I come in here I want to wear a beautiful dress and I want to feel like a woman.' The team of hair and makeup people that we had transformed me every single day, and that, I would say, is 98% of it, you know. If you're a lazy actor, which I would say I'm not, one needs that team behind you to get ready. And you feel it when you put the dress on.”
“I'd have to say the ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ dress was my favorite – I couldn’t move in it!” she laughs, recalling how she, like Monroe before her, was sown into the glittery gown the star wore to croon a sultry tribute on JFK’s 45th birthday in 1962, just months before Monroe’s still much-speculated-about death.
“Yeah, I couldn't go to the bathroom,” Sullivan remembers. “It was really was unbelievable. The time that they took to put this thing together – 8,000 crystals in this gown! Every single person involved in this blew me away, whether it was the hair department, makeup, wardrobe. Everyone was just the best of the best. And I cannot believe that I got to be their doll. It was really quite exquisite.”
The recently engaged actress also confessed to spiriting away an item from “Marilyn’s” closet. “I swiped a peach number that I'm actually going to get married in.,” she confided. “I have little sticky fingers – I took it! I'm really excited to get to put that on again.”