Just about every actress fantasizes about playing screen legend Marilyn Monroe, and for Poppy Montgomery, that dream came true until she saw herself in a mirror. "I felt like a drag queen," Montgomery, who plays the American icon in CBS's upcoming four-hour miniseries, Blonde, said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, this is awful.'"
CBS's Blonde which is slated to air during May sweeps is sure to prompt as much discussion as the Joyce Carol Oates fictional Monroe biography on which it's based. Also starring Ann-Margret, Home Improvement's Patricia Richardson, Kirstie Alley and Patrick Dempsey, the story follows young Norma Jean Baker from her difficult childhood to the mega-stardom and drug addiction that ultimately dragged her down.
However, it's anyone's guess whether Montgomery herself will have worked up the nerve to watch her own performance by then. "I have, by my own choice, not yet seen the film because I'm not ready to," admitted the former star of UPN's now-defunct The Beat. "I think it's going to be somewhat startling to see myself. The amount of body makeup that went into the white skin and covering all my freckles, it was like you put it on a corpse."
Further deflating Montgomery's ego was the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number, which called for her to put on a Marilyn-level performance. It wouldn't have been a problem, except she claims she has two left feet. "I can't dance to save my life," she said. "I won't even dance at a disco. I don't dance, and I don't sing, so I had like five dance rehearsals, five two-hour sessions... Then I was on this set with all these fabulous male dancers, and I can't even walk in the shoes."
Even now that Blonde has wrapped production, the Australian actress admits she's still suffering after-effects from working on this and other American shoots. "I can't do the Australian accent anymore," Montgomery lamented. "I went for an audition to play an Australian girl and I thought I was a shoo-in and it was going to be wonderful I was going to get the job. And the feedback to my manager was it was the worst Australian accent they ever heard. So I think I've kind of beaten it out of my system."