In the early summer of 1956, 25 year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl.
The film famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, who was also on honeymoon with her new husband and playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott).
Nearly 40 years ago, his diary account The Prince, the Showgirl and Me was published, but one week was missing and this was published some years later as My Week with Marilyn — this is the story of that week. When Arthur Miller leaves England, the coast is clear for Colin Clark to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life.
The first memoir, The Prince, The Showgirl and Me, recounts the production’s myriad of problems. This was at a time when Monroe was taking her first shot at being a producer, under Marilyn Monroe Production. She was also coming to England to work with the great Olivier in an effort to disprove doubts about her acting ability. Olivier, was trying to reignite his career as a movie star in the volatile cultural landscape of 1956. It was from her insecurities that Monroe was looking for a friend and how she became close to Colin Clark, whose job on set was to be everywhere and both visible and invisible. My Week With Marilyn director Simon Curtis said the film’s story is in the same tradition as Lost In Translation — starring Bill Murray.
“Two people accidentally come into each other’s orbit and have this very charged connection, which then evaporates, and that appealed to me,” said Curtis. “Also, the story chimes very much with our present fascination with celebrity. Now, with Twitter, you get very much into the details of how stars live, but back then things were much more controlled, so I liked how Colin gives us this inside track.”
While the director and producer decided to option rights for both memoirs, they thought the first book might appeal more to people in the film industry.
“The second book, however, is the real peek behind the curtain into who Marilyn really was. Importantly, this is not a Marilyn biopic; it’s about a window into her life, working on a particular film and the relationship she forged with Colin Clark at a crucial moment in her life,” said producer David Parfitt.
Screenwriter Adrian Hodges, who adapted the books for the movie, said the memoirs show the very real side of Monroe.
“The Marilyn who was everything that everybody thought she was — scared, insecure, frantic, sometimes impossible — but, at the same time, vulnerable, sweet, endearing, just a young girl, really. So I thought this screenplay could make her human again,” said Hodges.
Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) plays Monroe — a role that was personally significant.
“I grew up with a poster of her in my bedroom,” said Williams. “I had always been more interested in the private Marilyn though, and the unguarded Marilyn — the Marilyn before Marilyn. Even as a young girl, my primary connection wasn’t with this larger-than-life personality, but with what was going on underneath.”
My Week With Marilyn is playing at the Pen Mar on March 9 at 4 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the Penticton Art Gallery and the Book Shop. Limited tickets at door.