Hollywood’s tradition of excluding non-American actors from ‘white’ roles may be about to change

After many delays, it will finally premiere on September 28th on Netflix BlondeThe Biography By Marilyn Monroe Based on the book of the same title by Joyce Carol Oates in which Ana de Armas plays the American movie legend alongside Bobby Cannavale as Joe Dimaggio; Adrien Brody, who plays Arthur Miller, and Julian Nicholson, who will be Gladys Pearl Baker, the star’s mother.

On July 28, the official trailer for the movie was released, which recreates some special moments in the life of the actress which were highly acclaimed by a large part of the audience and the media. However, only a few hours after it was posted, some criticism began to be heard on social networks in reference to the fact that most of us Spanish speakers had gone unnoticed: the supposed Cuban accent that Ana de Armas can’t avoid slipping in time to play Marilyn. . Many viewers found it unacceptable to portray one of America’s quintessential icons with a certain foreign cast, and thus not look like the real Monroe.

Ana de Armas Marilyn Monroe

Adrien Brody, who plays Arthur Miller, poses in a photo from the movie with Ana de Armas. Photo: Netflix

Presumably, these negative comments will not benefit de Armas, especially if we remember the statements he made to the British newspaper. times, noting that he spent at least nine months polishing his tone for his role in sessions that left him literally “fried” and which he described as “huge torture.” After the attacks received in networks actress Nick Woodhouse president and director marketing of Authentic Brands, the agency that manages the Monroe legacy and which was not behind this production (indeed, did not authorize it), announced that TMZ That “Anna was able to capture, in a wonderful way, the essence of Marilyn’s voice, which was known for his ragged breath.”

But perhaps the most important support Ana de Armas has received has come from Brad Pitt, who announced August 2 on the show. Entertainment tonight That the actress “is exceptional in the role. Marilyn is a complicated dress to wear. It took 10 years to shoot this movie and they could only launch the project after they found Anna.” The mere presence of the controversy makes it clear that there is still a problem in the California film industry with incorporating non-American actors into roles without a very specific ethnic or racial component, or rather white, Anglo-Saxon and Puritan characters. However, Pete’s defense also hints at some hope that things might start to change.

long-term problem

It is clear that the Cuban actress is not the only one who has suffered from this kind of criticism. Throughout history, there have been numerous cases of actors and actresses who have seen their careers limited in terms of roles or salaries because of their accent, but also because of their physical appearance or ethnicity. We can, for example, make a huge list of Italian-American actors who have devoted their careers exclusively to interpreting Mafia-related roles, Latinos who always play drug dealers, and Germans who get paid to be Nazis or Russians, right up to their arrival. Of perestroika only evil Soviet played.

But it is not necessary to go that far; Three of our most international actors, all of whom have received awards and nominations at the Oscars, have had this kind of problem even though, fortunately for them and without effort, they managed to build a career in spite of everything. The eldest of them, Antonio Banderas, has referred to this issue on more than one occasion. In 2014, for example, he was no clearer in a statement to RTVE: “The roles they give me in the States are Jack, Horse and King. In Hollywood I’ve always been limited by my accent and my race.”

Penelope Cruz, especially at the beginning of her career, also suffered many criticisms in the United States for her accent. The actress from Madrid started learning English quite late, and as she admitted in an interview while promoting Vicki, Cristina, BarcelonaHiding his Hollywood accent was a “torture” for him. Her husband, Javier Bardem, recently got involved in an accent controversy, albeit a slightly different one. The actor was heavily criticized for accepting the role of Cuban TV star Desi Arnaz in the 1950s Being Ricardos. in an interview in The Hollywood Reporter Bardem spent a great deal of time defending himself against the accusations, asking questions like “Should we let only Danish actors play Hamlet?” They need to be told and we must all do so, better collectively, to give greater access and greater opportunities to Latin American stories and writers.”

Ana de Armas Marilyn Monroe

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem also talked about the issues they had with their accent in Hollywood. Photo: Getty Images

It’s not easy to break the stereotype, but it’s not impossible either. Currently, there are some cases of actors and actresses who managed to free themselves from the “strange” corset, played neutral roles and even made the audience forget about their origins. To name a few, Oscar Isaac, born in Guatemala, usually gives life to characters that do not refer to his genes. It is strange to remember, however, that the exact opposite happens with American actors than with foreigners. Those who devoted their careers to imitating foreign dialects were awarded the title of great masters of acting. Perhaps the best known case is that of Meryl Streep, who was seen imitating the Danish accent in Africa memoriesone of the Bronx in doubtitalian in Madison Bridges The British in several films and also other films such as Irish, Polish or Australian. But is he really doing it right? Or is it simply reproducing another stereotype, that of the dialect in which an American assumes a Dane speaks English? No one often asks speakers of other languages ​​what they think of the imitation of their dialects by American representatives. They may not care much, but this kind of chauvinism risks causing exaggerated and ridiculous results. A typical example of this is the disastrous and grotesque Chilean accent shown by Giancarlo Esposito (on the other hand a wonderful actor) in his role as Gustavo Fring in the hit series Too bad s The best of Saul on demand.

It’s not exclusive to Hollywood

To be fair, it is necessary to point out that in our country occupational discrimination and confusion in the world of cinema due to dialect or ethnicity was the norm until very recently (if it was not). With a few honorable exceptions, it was difficult to find an actor or actress with an Andalusian accent who, for example, did not play a lower-class comic and role. This is not to mention representatives of other races or sexual choices. In the world of television or radio journalism, dialects have also been left out of national networks for decades, forcing many professionals to take specific courses to learn how to erase all traces of their regional identity to increase their chances of thriving in their work.

As society progresses in recognizing the rights and differences between people, it seems that despite all the difficulties there is a slight tendency for these differences to disappear. Coming back to the Ana de Armas case, maybe in a few years we’ll have to thank the actress for the role she’s playing as the lead for this change in Hollywood. Brad Pitt’s defense reveals that something can change in the industry. Although on a subject like this, it is always too early to ring the bells quickly.

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