Knowing that her appearance worked both for and against her (though mainly for), Marilyn Monroe wanted more than anything to be taken seriously as an actress.
"If I am a star, the people made me a star… but I do want to be wonderful, you know?" she's heard saying in an audio recording. At another time, she said, "What I'd like to accomplish, I would like to be a good actress, a true actress. An artist, with integrity."
Among the dozens of old interview clips included in the Netflix documentary, her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star Jane Russell told journalist Anthony Summers that they'd work all day and Monroe would meet with her acting coach at night. "She was very bright and she wanted to learn," Russell said, "and was interested in everything to help her control her career."
John Huston, who directed Monroe in one of her first films, 1950's Asphalt Jungle, and her last finished movie, 1961's The Misfits, recalled meeting the "very fresh, very attractive, rather timid, shy" young woman for the first time at her audition, where she "read her lines beautifully."
And her appeal went beyond her looks, the filmmaker noted. Though she was the "sex symbol of this century," he noted in the 1980s, "it wasn't just a sex thing at all. Women felt just the same as men. There was something deeply moving about Marilyn, always."