Kelli Garner on being ‘terrified’ at challenge of playing Marilyn Monroe [Exclusive Video]

“I was really terrified, but I was sick of not taking challenges because I was afraid to fail. All of the pieces were there to get out of my own way and try to do what I love to do at the best of my ability,” admits actress Kelli Garner about playing the iconic Marilyn Monroe for television.

In her recent interview with Gold Derby (watch below), Garner chats about the Lifetime limited series “Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” how she was cast in the role, and the sudden fame followed by tragedy that beset the legendary sex symbol. In preparing for the part, she admits, “I didn’t really know much about her life or her work as an actress. It was really fun to watch all those old movies and fall in love with a woman who I knew I loved. Something resonated whenever I would see a photo or image. It’s piercing; she’d take my breath away.”

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The project is based on the bestseller by J. Randy Taraborrelli and is directed by Laurie Collyer. Co-stars include Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, Oscar nominee Emily Watson, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Garner plays the younger pre-Hollywood Norma Jeane Mortenson and then the newly-named actress Marilyn Monroe throughout her career.

The first part opens with Marilyn already a star and in therapy. That provides the viewers with a glimpse into what she might have been thinking during those pivotal years. Garner reveals, “Therapy was shot chronologically, which was great because you get to develop that relationship and let it bleed into the opening up and all those kinds of emotions… how you hide and defend yourself when somebody starts to see who you really are.”

Portraying Monroe has led to awards recognition for other actresses: Catherine Hicks (1981), Ashley Judd (1996), and Mira Sorvino (1996) have all reaped Emmy bids for telefilms while Michelle Williams contended at the Oscars in 2011 for “My Week with Marilyn.”

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