as Colin Clark
Released on December 23, 2011 (US) / November 25, 2011 (UK)
Directed by Simon Curtis
Written by Adrian Hodges
Based on the book by Colin Clark
Also starring Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper, Judi Dench, Julia Ormond
Genre: Biography / Drama
MPAA Rating: R for some language
In the early summer of 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark, just down from Oxford and determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, who was also on honeymoon with her new husband, the playwright Arthur Miller.
Nearly 40 years on, 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 to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life: an idyllic week in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work.
On some of the realism during filming
What was one of the most fascinating parts of making this film was the sort of meta quality of it, this idea of life imitating art. We were shooting in a studio where they shot the “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Michelle William’s dressing room was Marilyn’s dressing room. There was a moment where I took her round Colin Clark’s old school which, completely coincidentally happened to be my old school [Eton]. Colin Clark was taking Marilyn Monroe around, and even though all the Eton schoolboys where playing, all the Eton schoolboys were also gagging to find out what Michelle was like. But you’re right, Michelle is so formidable in the part and there were moments where it certainly felt electric, yeah.
About filming at Pinewood
Pinewood has always been a bastion of that. What was amazing was to walk down these corridors and see ‘Captain America’ was filming in one studio and you had ‘Hugo’ and ‘The Woman In Black’ with Daniel Radcliffe. You had all these different people in different costumes and then Marilyn Monroe shimming down the hall. There was a romance to it. Absoluely there was. Shooting in the houses — Parkside House, where she stayed. The moment when she reads the notes that Arthur Miller has written, that was the staircase where it happened. All those things can’t help but inform the film.
About bringing Colin to the screen
What’s interesting about Colin is that — in some ways — I had the easier task. Compared to an icon. I saw the photos and obviously read the diaries, but what was important was chosing what note to take from the book. When you’re given that resource — both the diaries and ‘My Week With Marilyn’ — because you know exactly who the character is, you want to take all that. Then the script is something different. It’s like doing literary adaptations. At some point you have to put that away and play the script. There were certain aspects of Colin’s behavior that were curious or not necessarily audience friendly. I knew that what was important was that Colin was a cypher. The audience had to be with him.
When I would complain about finding a scene difficult, Michelle would say, “When you’re playing James Dean, then you complain. Until then, shut it!” She’s absolutely right. But what was hilarious is that there was this one day on set when I was suddenly taken by one of the assistants to meet Colin’s twin sister — Colin has passed away — and his wife and son. No one had told me. It was wonderful to meet them and they were incredibly generous and lovely, but suddenly I felt — having been the one going “My job is fun!” — that there was something else there. I spoke to the lady who worked as the script supervisor on the film, as well as the woman who had worked with [Marilyn’s publicist], to really get a sense of Colin, and to see whether they thought this was true. Certainly there’s a fairy tale aspect of the story, but they were all like, “He had this charm. It totally wouldn’t surprise me if this had occurred.” That was lovely. Because you wanna feel that.
On working with Michelle Williams
I’ve never seen someone with the dedication and really, really specific work on all fronts … With both her and Kenneth Branagh, it was a real treat to get to witness that.
On others in the cast
There were actors from my generation who I love and whose work I’ve loved like Emma, like Dom Cooper… It’s wonderful in this industry — which seems so intimidating when you step into it — when the world does become smaller and you get to work with mates.
Michelle Williams and I were in most scenes and every day another bastion of the British establishment would come in.
On What He Took Away from this Film
I think the most interesting thing was playing someone who has a false sense of confidence given his privileged background and incredible access to these sorts of people. But he also has a truth of heart and wants to make his own way in the world, you know? He has this cockiness and needs an emotional education. I would say that, as an actor, you always learn by being a sponge and watching other people. This, of course, was the most wonderful opportunity in which to witness a lot of the greatest living British actors, not to mention Michelle, one of the greatest actors of our generation. I observed all the different ways of acting. I got to understand what I like about how they work and their behavior on set working with the crew even.
Colin: Everyone remembers their first job. This is the story of mine. I was the youngest in a family of overachievers. My father was a world-famous art historian, and my brother was ahead of me in everything. I was always the disappointment.
Colin: It’s agony becau
Colin: Here’s what I remember most: her embrace. Her belief in me. And the joy she gave. That was her gift. When I think of her now, I think of that time when a dream came true. And my only talent was not to close my eyes.
Colin: It’s agony because he’s a great actor who wants to be a film star, and you’re a film star who wants to be a great actress. This film won’t help either of you.
Colin: Marilyn, do one thing for me: Come to the set on time tomorrow and show everyone what you can do. Show Larry that you’re a great actress.
Lucy: Did she break your heart?
Lucy: A little.
Lucy: Good, it needed breaking.
Marilyn: Do you know I’ve been married three times already? How did that happen?
Colin: You were just looking for the right man.
Marilyn: They always look right at the start.
Colin: I had everything to prove to my family. But I had more to prove to myself.
Marilyn: Don’t forget me.
Colin: As if I could.
Laurence: She’s quite wonderful. No training, no craft, no guile, just pure instinct. Astonishing.
Colin: You should tell her that.
Laurence: Oh, I will. But she won’t believe me. That’s probably what makes her great, yet it’s certainly what makes her so profoundly unhappy.
Colin: Let me protect you from all this.
Marilyn: What are you gonna do? Marry me?
Colin: Why not? You could quit this. Forget Marilyn Monroe. Forget Hollywood. Let it all go. Just let it go.
Marilyn: I couldn’t just give it up.
Colin: Why not? Why not when it drives you crazy?
Marilyn: You think I’m crazy?
Colin: I just meant you could be happy.
Marilyn: I am happy.
Colin: Of course you’re happy. You’re the biggest star in the world.