Marilyn Monroe Used An Unorthodox Technique To Nail Her Asphalt Jungle Audition

As shocking as it sounds to modern audiences, Marilyn Monroe's star qualities weren't immediately recognized by Hollywood. After gaining some attention in the modeling world, Monroe attempted to break into the world of acting, but struggled in those early years. Although Twentieth Century Fox signed the aspiring actress in 1946, the studio dropped her shortly afterwards when her star failed to rise. Monroe fell back on modeling, and reluctantly posed nude to avoid financial ruin, despite believing that "nice girls [don't] not pose in the nude." Ironically, the photos earned her a second chance at Hollywood stardom.

Prior to 1950, Monroe was only capable of landing bit roles until she caught the eye of famed director John Houston. Some claim Monroe's audition blew Houston away and that he gave her the part immediately, while others believe the director made a backroom deal to avoid financial trouble. Regardless, Monroe got the part and wowed audiences as Angela Phinlay. According to Monroe in her autobiography "My Story," her unorthodox audition technique won her the role.

'I felt sick'

According to Marilyn Monroe's autobiography, the head of M.G.M.'s talent scout department called her and told her to let her agent know there might be a role for her in an upcoming John Houston film. Monroe's long time friend, agent, and hype man, Johnny Hyde, believed in her potential, and escorted Monroe to Houston's office. Monroe recalled meeting the legendary director, who she believed was, "a genius – the first [she'd] ever met."

Being in the presence of genius was bound to add even more pressure to the audition, and it didn't help that Hyde confessed to being "worried" about Monroe's ability to cry on cue. Monroe believed in herself, went back home to study the script, and returned to Houston's office a few days later. This time, Monroe admitted her confidence began to buckle under the pressure:

"I felt sick. I had told myself a million times that I was an actress. I had practiced acting for years. Here, finally, was my first chance at a real acting part with a great director to direct me. And all I could do is stand with my quivering knees and quivering stomach and nod my head like a wooden toy."

Monroe knew that this role was crucial, and that failure would be a devastating blow to her shaky career, so she pulled it together by laying on the floor.

'We're waiting, Miss Monroe'

Prior to her audition, Monroe practiced her lines laying on a couch like the character does in the scene. Standing frozen in front of John Houston, Monroe recalled rehearsing on the couch in her apartment and retreated to what was familiar:

"I stretched myself out on the floor and Bill crouched down beside me. I felt much better. I had rehearsed the part lying on a couch, as the directions indicated. There wasn't any couch in the office. Lying on the floor was almost the same thing, however."

As Monroe layed on the floor, all her fears seemed to melt away, and she remembered all of her lines. Houston cast her on the spot.

Monroe's audition impressed Houston, and her work in "Asphalt Jungle" finally earned the struggling actress a fanbase. According to Monroe, audiences made "wolf noises" at her while they watched the film. Soon after, Monroe's charisma and beauty launched her Hollywood star and she became the blonde bombshell. However, the actress wasn't comfortable playing the stereotype:

"I realized that just as I once fought to get into the movies and become an actress, I would now have to fight to become myself and to be able to use my talents. If I didn't fight I would become a piece of merchandise to be sold off the movie pushcart."

Throughout her short career, Monroe got gigs with famous directors and gained audiences' attention, but she felt like it had more to do with her sex appeal than her acting ability. Despite taking acting lessons at the famed Actor's Studio and starting her own production company, Monroe was never taken seriously as an actress. Today, she remains famous for her beauty and seductiveness, and her acting chops are often forgotten.