The interpreter is part of the leading cast of The Gray Man, which premieres today on Netflix, but will also play Marilyn Monroe in a long-awaited biopic.
Ana de Armas seems to have become, almost despite herself, the new action heroine of Hollywood. “The truth is that I never thought I was going to be an action movie actress. It was never my thing”, he clarified in the long interview with Elle Magazine that comes out in August as a promotion of his appearance in Blonde, the movie about Marilyn Monroe that Netflix premieres next month.
With Marilyn reinvented by the lyrics of Joyce Carol Oates, Ana de Armas returns to that more intimate world that she imagined at the beginning of her acting career. Characters whose strength was hidden behind the mask of their appearance, their fame. However, his recent appearances in No time to die (2021) –available on Amazon Prime Video, Movistar Play, Apple TV+, and Google Play–, Daniel Craig’s farewell to the James Bond suit, and the Russo brothers’ new bet outside of Marvel with The Gray Man –from today on Netflix–, starring alongside Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, they prove otherwise. In both, the Cuban-born actress not only solves complex scenes of physical prowess but also functions as a more ambiguous character than her appearance suggests, an unusual presence that makes her the perfect card for the action cinema of the future.
In the latest James Bond film directed by Cary Fukunaga, spurred on by a new perspective on the franchise brought by Craig himself and supported by the collaboration of Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the scripts, none of the Bond girls is reduced to the old archetype of the pretty woman, somewhat frivolous, sometimes a bit femme fatale, always seduced and abandoned by the risks of 007’s license to kill. Both Léa Seydoux, who has survived as more than just the occasional romantic interest, and the new agent played by Lashana Lynch, who sounded like an unexpected Bond successor in the cinematic future of the saga, dodge the limits reserved for women in the world of espionage created by Ian Fleming. And Ana de Armas confirms that vocation of hers, making the powerful intervention of her Dove one of the most spectacular moments in No time to die. Not only does it sidestep the obviousness of romance, but it also achieves a singular display without wrapping itself in a masculine shell or becoming a lamé-and-stiletto-dress version that slips away from the action by elegance.
Perhaps jumping and kicking against the background of a green screen is something ridiculous for the actors themselves, as De Armas herself acknowledges in the chat with Elle. Or something they “don’t want to focus on,” in part because it’s always been seen as a limitation: the action heroine is a flat character with not much to offer other than somersaults and frowns.
But despite these objections, the actress of Blade Runner 2049 (2017) -available on Netflix, Paramount +, Movistar Play, Claro Video, Apple TV +, and Google Play- has been concerned with expanding those circumstantial disguises once she puts the signature somewhere contract. For example, the decision to join The Gray Man, a post moth version of Mark Greaney’s spy books -quite close to Marvel movies-, was born from a waiting time until the James Bond and Andrew’s Blonde projects Dominik will resume after delays due to the pandemic. “My character in The Gray Manit needed development, but luckily the meeting with the Russos was productive and we had a lot of fun.” Here that hard work involved in composing a claw and punch action heroine is complemented not only with the deployment of powerful arsenals and chimerical loopholes but with the strength of a CIA agent who frees herself from her position within that rigid structure.
Once again, Ana de Armas skillfully circumvents the stereotypes of the Latin girl, with an easy smile and full lips, who only seems to stand on her beauty and sensuality, to show that there is something inaccessible behind her presence. Those same prejudices seem to have alerted Jamie Lee Curtis at the beginning of the filming of Entre navajas y Secretos (2019) –available on Netflix, Claro Video, Apple TV, and Google Play– by Rian Johnson. “I assumed, and I say it with real shame,” Curtis recalls when asked by Elle-, who was a young woman without experience and without sophistication, who had just arrived from Cuba and so that first day I asked her as if she were a child: ‘what are your dreams?’”. But Ana de Armas had not just arrived from Cuba, although she had made her first steps on television in her country, then she had ventured into the Spanish industry after spending time in Madrid, and finally, she had landed in Hollywood to land a role in your size. It was a surprise for Curtis to find in De Armas an heiress to her role as an action heroine –cultivated in the most difficult years of the 1980s, at the hands of directors like Kathryn Bigelow–: “when I saw her act I realized that his path was assured in this industry”.
The role of Marta Cabrera in Entre navajas y secretos was truly consecrating. In that story that contained the essence of the enigma police, placing the crime of the patriarch within the walls of his stately mansion, Marta is the outsider, the nurse turned intrepid detective delegate who must unmask one by one the relatives and their hidden motivations for the murder. The Agatha Christie-style whodunit found in Johnson’s direction the perfect rhythm and in the work of the Blonde actress a disturbing density, tense between the ambiguous link that united her to her employer and the omnipresence of the fate of the inheritance. With excellent reviews and a success that enabled an imminent sequence, Between knives and secrets gave Ana de Armas the confirmation that she could find her place beyond the characters that were reserved for her: “I want to play Latin women, but I don’t want to put a basket of fruit on my head in every movie”.
Making her mark in Hollywood, the 34-year-old actress also tasted the throes of fame. Her brief but photographed romance with Ben Affleck, before the actor’s return with JLo – wedding included – earned Ana de Armas a sample of an almost intolerable exposure, which convinced her to leave Los Angeles. She spent seven years on the Californian coast but the insistent persecution of the paparazzi prompted her to seek other directions. “I realized that it was not a place for me. It became something excessive, with no escape, no way out. Los Angeles is a city that makes you feel that something is missing, it is a city that fills you with anxiety.” Her encounter with Affleck occurred in 2019 during the filming of Deep Waters –finally released in 2022 on Amazon Prime Video–, a thriller based on the homonymous novel by Patricia Highsmith and directed by veteran Adrian Lyne. Although time has passed, Lyne does not seem to have lost his way and one can trace in his direction some of that erotic exhibitionism that had distinguished his cinema in the late 80s with Fatal Attraction and nine and a half weeks in the lead. Yet de Armas endows Melinda, a cold and manipulative woman born from Highsmith’s sharp pen, with an ironic self-awareness, a distance from her perfidy that makes her work more interesting even than Lyne’s original intentions.
That recent flight from California to New York and her new romance with Paul Boukadakis, a Tinder executive, seem to have removed her personal life from the public eye and concentrated her appearances on promoting her professional projects. After the premiere of The Gray Man, what comes is Blonde-whose premiere will be on Netflix on September 23-, the adaptation of the novel by Carol Oates that imagines a Marilyn Monroe at the intersection of her public figure and her enigmatic interior, also divided between innocence and torment. “Andrew [Dominik] wanted the world to experience what it feels like not only as Marilyn but as Norma Jeane. I discovered that it was a more daring version, unapologetic and conceived from a feminist perspective that allowed her story to be expanded.” Joyce Carol Oates’s text not only tenses the notion of biopic but also experiments with the relationship between the two sides of the mirror that created Marilyn Monroe, the pain of her childhood, and the battle not to lose her identity in her life. adulthood. Both Dominik and De Armas start from there to think about the character today, “Understanding that fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma Jean the most invisible”.
But the action heroines await patients on Ana’s path. First, in Ghosted, a film in which the actress replaced Scarlett Johansson and whose premiere is projected for next year on the screen of Apple TV +, directed by the British Dexter Fletcher ( Rocketman ) and with Chris Evans as the protagonist. “First of all, I am a true fan of Ana”, reveals Evans about the reunion with the partner of several shootings of his. “There are certain people you can’t take your eyes off of when they’re on camera, and their range, from power to vulnerability, is incredibly broad. All the actors have strengths, but she can go from being extremely dangerous to being warm and gentle in a single scene.” Then Ballerina will arrive, the long-awaited spin-off of the ‘John Wick’ universe, in which De Armas insisted on the incorporation of a screenwriter. Finally, the chosen one was Emerald Fennell, screenwriter, and director of Beautiful revenge (2020). “It was important for me to get involved in the project and find a voice that resonated with what I wanted for the character.”
The place where Ana de Armas has finally arrived is interesting. A bit like what happened to her character in Between Knives and Secrets, cunningly shows up in the least imagined place, the one reserved for the one who had the best cards in the game. Marta Cabrera, the millionaire’s nurse played by Christopher Plummer, stomped on that family stage in which no one seemed to remember the country she came from. Ana de Armas also cleared up those initial reservations about the newly arrived Cuban, the one who was only awaited, as the late heiress of Carmen Miranda, by the Latin fruit bowl in her head. Even though action characters are a fearsome archetype in an actress’s career, sometimes laborious and sometimes ridiculous, often too close to the same gender limit, Ana de Armas has nothing to fear. Her path seems to open without the need for punches and kicks.