Cuban-Spanish actress born in Havana, Ana de Armas, is carving out a place for herself in the Hollywood sun. After starting her career in Cuba and Madrid, the one who made an impression with her sexy and muscular appearances in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Dying Can Wait (2021) is, at 34, one of the most popular names—both on the small and big screens. An overview of what you need to know about the heroine of The Gray Man, Netflix’s new action blockbuster, and who will soon be on view in the highly anticipated and sulfurous fictional biopic dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, Blonde, also on the streaming platform.
A childhood far from the glitz of Hollywood
Born in Havana, Cuba, Ana Celia de Armas Caso led a childhood far removed from the lights and glitter of Hollywood. Unlike many up-and-coming actors who are child stars or have famous parents, cinema did not run through her veins. Her father, who studied philosophy at a Soviet university, was a teacher, bank director, school principal and deputy mayor, while her mother held a position in human resources at the Ministry of Education. As a child, Ana de Armas lived for many years with her grandparents in Havana, while her parents and her brother, who lived in the seaside town of Santa Cruz del Norte only came to visit her once a week.
Due to the economic crisis (known as the “Special Period in a Time of Peace”) raging in Cuba in the 1990s, following the fall of the USSR and the cessation of commercial support from the socialist bloc, her childhood, Spartan but happy, was marked by food rationing and power cuts, which could last until 4pm. She thus remembers Havana (in the media outlet Men’s Journal): “I grew up in nature, at the beach, and playing in the street with friends. I felt very free. We were completely unfettered here and there before returning home for dinner and watching cartoons.” [. . .]
An (inconclusive) acting career in Cuba and Spain
From the age of 14, Ana de Armas hitchhiked to classes at the National Theater of Cuba. Still a student, she was already filming before flying off, four years later, to Madrid, with 200 euros in her pocket. The first feature films and the first series of the actress are forgettable, even if they allowed her to be recognized on the streets in Spain. She played notably in the rosy drama Una rosa de Francia (2006); in the show for teenagers, which takes place in a Spanish boarding school El Internado (2007-2010); and in a comedy on the passage to the adulthood: Mentiras y gordas (2009).
After a stint in New York to try to learn English, Ana de Armas changes register with a dramatic-historical series (Hispania, la leyenda, in 2010 and 2011) and a handful of horror films such as Anabel (2015). She then starts doubting the future of her career, participates in plays for a theater company in Madrid, and then finds a Hollywood agent before moving to Los Angeles. While she speaks the language of Shakespeare very badly, she lands a first role in a U.S. film, alongside Keanu Reeves (who becomes her first guardian angel in the United States) in Eli Roth’s horrific erotic thriller Knock Knock (2015). [. . .]
An explosive Hollywood rise
In Hollywood, she who first learned her texts phonetically was, in the beginning, the femme fatale or the often romantic or sexy, devoted wife. Even though she was both radiant and charismatic, the good roles were not immediately in the cards for Ana de Armas. But the Cuban-Spanish woman is determined not to let herself be imprisoned in the roles of a Latin bombshell with the appearance of an object. It was not until playing in Denis Villeneuve’s metaphysical futuristic thriller Blade Runner 2049 (2017), that the actress shone in a secondary role. She plays Ryan Gosling’s girlfriend, Joi. Even if Joi is only a hologram born from artificial intelligence, Ana de Armas brings a very carnal and magnetic dimension to her character.
Now, nothing stops the star in the making who dreams of a career like that of Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, or Penelope Cruz. She proves she has depth in her role as an immigrant nurse in Knives Out (2019), starring Daniel Craig; and exudes haunting charm in Olivier Assayas’ spy thriller Cuban Network (2019). But it’s as a James Bond girl in No Time to Die that she explodes. In a low-cut evening dress, she plays Paloma, a secret CIA agent whose stunts have nothing to envy to the male heroes of the film. The intensive sports training that she undergoes for this blockbuster will serve the actress for her athletic and “badass” role in the new big-budget Netflix blockbuster The Gray Man, alongside Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans.
Now all eyes are on the one landed the role of Marilyn Monroe in the fictionalized and already controversial biopic (due to its sex scenes, which are deemed shocking) Blonde, based on the best-selling book by Joyce Carol Oates. We will have to wait until September 28, 2022, to find out if, despite the lack of obvious resemblance between the two actresses, the new Hollywood darling, who worked for a year with a diction coach, managed to capture the essence—sublime and innocent—of the icon of the 50s.
The Gray Man (2022) by Mark Greaney and Joe Russo, available on Netflix. Andrew Dominik’s Blonde will be available on September 28, 2022.
Translated by Ivette Romero. For full, original article, see https://www.numero.com/fr/cinema/ana-de-armas-blonde-the-gray-man-ryan-gosling-james-bond-daniel-craig
[Photo above by Samir Hussein/WireImage via Getty Images: Ana de Armas in The Gray Man; London, July 19, 2022.]