general discussion laurence olivier vivien leigh

My Week with Marilyn

By now you’ve probably all heard about the upcoming film My Week with Marilyn, which is based on the book by Colin Clark, and recounts a week during the filming of the 1956 film The Prince and the Showgirl, directed by Laurence Olivier and starring Larry and Marilyn Monroe. My Week with Marilyn the book is actually a supplement to Clark’s other book The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me, which chronicled Clark’s experience working as an assistant to Olivier on the film.

Colin Clark was fairly close to Olivier and Vivien Leigh as his father, famous art historian Kenneth Clark, was good friends with the famous couple. His books have some interesting insight into the Oliviers’ relationship, as well as how they both viewed Marilyn. Larry, who was very excited to work with the blonde bombshell, quickly found her extremely difficult and didn’t have very nice things to say about directing or acting opposite the troubled sex symbol.

So far, the cast includes the following people:

* Kenneth Brannagh as Laurence Olivier
* Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
* Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark
* Judy Dench as Sybil Thorndike
* Emma Watson as a script girl

But there’s one part that has yet to be cast: Vivien Leigh! Apparently Catherine Zeta-Jones was tipped to play Vivien but pulled out to spend time with her husband Michael Douglas who has cancer.

I know it’s a relatively small part, but I really think casting Vivien is going to be the bane of this film’s existence, precisely because I don’t think there is anyone in Hollywood today who even comes close to embodying Vivien’s beauty or elegance. CZJ might have been okay if they gave her some light contacts and put her on a bit of a diet (not that she’s by any means fat, but she is pretty curvy whereas Vivien was very petite). But now that Catherine is out, I don’t know who they’d possibly get. As Vivien is my favorite actress and one of my favorite “historical” figures, I think I’d pay special attention to her character in this film, and might be extra critical of the person playing her (not to mention Kenneth Branagh as Larry…).

Who do you think would make a good Vivien Leigh?

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (13)

  1. No idea. I’ve been thinking about it since I heard about it and I can’t think of a single person to play Vivien. =/

  2. They also considered CJZ to play Hedy Lamarr in the upcoming biopic about the actress. But CJZ said she was too old to play the young Lamarr and now running out of choices they even think of Megan Fox!!! Hope the same thing won’t happen to Vivien. I cant think of any actress that petite and classy-looking to play her. I would prefer an unknown european actress with the same dark beauty.

  3. Big productions of true stories are always frustrating because they go for popularity over accuracy. I so can’t see Kenneth Branagh as Larry, but I’ve heard some stellar things about his acting. Michelle Williams might be able to pull off Marilyn, and then there’s Judi Dench, Eddie Redmayne and Dominic Cooper – some damn fine actors, all. As for Viv, gosh. Nobody can play her! I can’t even see CZJ, much as I like her acting.

  4. Actually, Kenneth Branagh doesn’t impress me much, he is nowhere near as good looking as Larry! As far as Vivien, I’ve been thinking who could possibly play her, and absolutely no one comes to mind. I agree they should go with a unknown actress.

  5. I think they’d be better off finding an unknown for Vivien. CZJ is gorgeous, sure, but in more of a sexpot way, whereas Vivien was gorgeous in more of a ladylike way.

    Did you ever see the absolutely horrific “Gable and Lombard”? Morgan Brittany was Vivien and she was, in a word, plain. The part wasn’t big at all but still they could have done better. Well that film is a giant hot mess anyway so who would expect accuracy.

    Michelle Williams doesn’t have enough sultry to pull off Marilyn. There is another film they are making about Marilyn and Naomi Watts is attached. Think she is better suited.

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