'Smash' Finale Preview: Who is Best Equipped to be Marilyn?

Smash Katharine McPhee Megan Hilty Gallery Portrait - P 2012

Smash Katharine McPhee Megan Hilty Gallery Portrait - P 2012

Who should be Bombshell's Marilyn?

Approaching Monday's freshman season finale of NBC's Broadway drama Smash, the question has resurfaced after movie star Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) -- who was brought in to fire up the production -- bailed.

In the penultimate episode, Rebecca took the easy out from the starring role, noting she was fearful to be part of the production after someone attempted to force her departure by spiking her smoothie with peanuts (she's allergic). In addition, the star confessed to being terrified to play the part after the preview performance tanked.

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Meanwhile, Tom (Christian Borle), Julia (Debra Messing), Eileen (Anjelica Huston) and Derek (Jack Davenport) are back at Square 1 and taked with figuring out who to give the role of a lifetime to now that Rebecca is out of the picture. Oh, and the have got to do something with that ending after preview audiences felt downright suicidal seeing the performance. 

Is the time right for Katharine McPhee's newcomer Karen -- Rebecca's understudy -- to take her time in the spotlight? Should Megan Hilty's Ivy retake the part after leading Bombshell during its workshop? The Hollywood Reporter polled both McPhee and Hilty to see which of their respective characters have the most in common with the icon to play the part.

"I think Karen has a similar drive to succeed Marilyn," McPhee tells THR. "She was just haunted by so many of her little demons. But that being said, Karen is just at the cusp of possible success and notoriety and success sometimes destroys people."

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In addition to a similar drive, Karen's challenge with her relationship with boyfriend Dev (Raza Jaffrey) almost parallels Marilyn's tortured romance with Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio.

"There is a bit of a connection between Marilyn's men wanting her to just stay at home and Joe DiMaggio wanting her to just stay at home and be part of the family, have children and her struggling with wanting that but also wanting to have her career," McPhee says.

While Karen's relationship with Dev started out stable, the couple has continued unravel just as Karen and Dev's careers headed in opposite directions. Most recently, Karen accepted his marriage proposal and still has no idea that Dev cheated on her with Ivy.

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"Dev in the beginning is very supportive of her but he doesn't want her to lose the sweet Karen, who he feels like he can control a little bit," McPhee says. "He feels like he is losing control of a lot of things: his career and he's losing control of Karen."

For her part, Hilty says Ivy's patterns are more in line with Marilyn's dark side, including her character's (formerly) pill-popping ways which cost her the role during the workshop process. Her tense relationship with her mother, a Broadway star in her own right (played by Tony winner Bernadette Peters) who doesn't think much of her daughter's abilities.

"She definitely has things in common with Marilyn when things start going well and people are taking advantage of her," Hilty says, noting her character's issues with the opposite sex -- including Derek -- is yet another similarity.

"There's so many things that mirror what happened to Marilyn, especially in the later years," Hilty says.

Who do you think will get the role when the curtain goes up and Bombshell opens on Broadway? Smash's Season 1 finale airs Monday at 10 p.m.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit