_Armed and Dangerous
Ana de Armas, the captivating Cuban-Spanish actress, has taken both the film and fashion worlds by storm, emerging as one of Hollywood's brightest stars in what is a remarkably short time. Her performances, marked by depth and authenticity, have endeared her to audiences globally.
From her memorable role in Blade Runner 2049 to a transformative portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, with Knives Out, Bond (No Time To Die), War Dogs and The Night Clerk thrown in for good measure – they each show de Armas’s ability to showcase a brand of accomplished versatility that distinguishes her from her contemporaries.
Beyond her on-screen presence, she also has a journey from Cuba to Hollywood that appears as if it could be every bit lifted from a film script, overcoming language barriers and cultural shifts, progressing as testament to the star’s resilience and passion.
Indeed, what makes her rise even more impressive is that, up until her teenaged years, de Armas had precious little appreciation or understanding of the wider world of entertainment, beyond a token offering of 20 minutes per week permitted to watch cartoons, and a solitary movie matinee that she was allowed to watch at the weekend.
These days, following Keanu Reeves, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Rosamund Pike and Jamie Lee Curtis are all quick to note the potential of the acting luminary, previously married to Spanish actor and model Marc Clotet, and more recently in a high-profile relationship with Ben Affleck. These days, she can be seen with entrepreneur and slash director Paul Boukadakis, though remains very much her own person, as we discover…
BLUSH. We have to ask you about Bond, given there remains lots of talk about who will succeed Daniel Craig. You have come out recently to say there is no need for a female Bond…
ANA DE ARMAS. We definitely don’t. There is a trend at the moment to repackage and re-present everything in a way that spells equality and diversity and everything else, and that’s a nice idea, in theory. Ultimately though, when you mess about with something a little too much you take away the magic of it. If we had no dynamic female role models in film these days then I would perhaps support something radical, but the fact is we do, so let’s keep some things pure. James Bond is a man and should always be.
BLUSH. Do you look back on No Time To Tie as a defining career moment?
ANA DE ARMAS. I am not the sort of person to rest on my laurels. To have been in a Bond film is something I’d always dreamed of – it wasn’t an aim, but you always think that if you can have your name on a Bond movie credits, you’ve done well. The films have always been a huge part of the industry and yes, we may be moving in a slightly different direction with them, but people going to watch them in the cinema have a good idea of what they are going to get. So, yes, I was very happy to get the chance to be in one, to work with a great director, some brilliant actors and be a part of the history that the James Bond franchise – and the excellent and legendary writer, Ian Fleming, has brought to the world. But no, this isn’t the end or the point at which I sit back and start to relax – that is not me!
BLUSH. So, future projects… You’ve got the John Wick franchise spin-off Ballerina and you’re back working again with Keanu Reeves. What was that like?
ANA DE ARMAS. For five long months in Prague, we were deeply engrossed in filming and every day brought its share of physical challenges. Every muscle, every joint – especially my back – screamed in pain. My body was a canvas of aches, and I was often littered with bruises, but of course when you look back in the weeks and months that follow they are not the defining memory, so really it doesn’t matter. The fact is, despite the intensity and the injuries, there was this man, relentlessly pushing the boundaries, involving me in mind-bending stunts, tossing and turning me with incredible vigour. Witnessing his commitment, I found it hard to voice any further complaints. I thought, “If he can do it, so can I.” It's not an exaggeration to say that Keanu truly is at the pinnacle of his craft, and it was truly a pleasure to work with him again. However, for the third time, maybe I’ll be happy to go back to a thriller where although that was intense, there weren’t anywhere near as many stunts!
BLUSH. You’ve also got a stellar cast for Origin Of Species, a Ron Howard film. Tell us a little bit about that.
ANA DE ARMAS. I can tell nothing but what the press release said which is along the lines of… A humorously grim narrative of murder and endurance, centred on a motley crew of characters who forsake society for the Galapagos. Each is driven by their quest for an age-old conundrum that haunts humanity: what is life's purpose? We have Jude Law, Alicia Vikander, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Daniel Brühl – it’s very good fun at the moment. So, you’ll have to wait and see for yourself when it comes out!
BLUSH. How proud are you of your career in film up to now?
ANA DE ARMAS. I often reflect on my accomplishments and consider my future path, and I'm acutely aware of those significant moments and achieved I've experienced, and I am proud of that, of course. Yet at the same time it's crucial not to linger on them for too long, because they don’t actually produce anything important going forward. It’s a cliché to say you’re only as good as your last movie, but in many ways it’s true. Where I am in my career, I don’t want to be relying on past glories – that’s just not me.
BLUSH. All that aside, which has been your most demanding role?
ANA DE ARMAS. Blonde was the toughest. Taking on a role like that demands profound preparation, pushing me to start from scratch. With Marilyn, I realised that emulating the physical traits of someone so iconic only covers half the journey. While many might first notice the appearance and voice, my engagement was far more overwhelming. It involved a complete re-evaluation and purging of my preconceived notions of her. That reflection was far more daunting and challenging for me.
BLUSH. How do you plan for the future?
ANA DE ARMAS. My main focus is always on the movies that are right in front of me, at the same time living out the projects you have wrapped up and are doing promo for. It can often feel you have lived with films for so long, and they are a kind of secret, with you being unable to say much or even contemplate their release. It’s something you get used to after a while.
BLUSH. Who are your favourite female actresses… perhaps those who have inspired you over the years?
ANA DE ARMAS. I would say those I have studied and admired include Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett – but not just those four. There are so many great actresses that when you start to become obsessed with improving your own performance and trying to get new types of roles that you’ve never considered before, you start watching the best and trying to take some tips from their acting.
BLUSH. You were brought up on food rationing, fuel shortages and electricity blackouts during Cuba’s so-called Special Period – a time of intense economic struggle brought about by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. How did that prepare you for life as an adult?
ANA DE ARMAS. Those days were challenging for our family. Every day brought with it the unsettling feeling of unpredictability, wondering if life could ever become simpler, healthier, or better. I often think about my parents during those times. They bore the brunt of the hardships. As kids, we were largely oblivious to the severity of our situation. We lacked even basic amenities like internet access. It wasn't until I attended the National Theatre School in Havana that I was introduced to this vast digital world, and I yearned to be part of it.
BLUSH. You later moved to Madrid at 18, and claimed Spanish citizenship as a way of navigating around Cuba’s then-regimented rules over needing to complete three years of mandatory service to the community…
ANA DE ARMAS. Naturally, I felt the urge to contribute to my country. However, I also recognised that if I could forge a path and establish a career elsewhere, it would provide a genuine opportunity to support my family. I prioritised my family and I have absolutely no regrets at all about making that decision. I would like to think it has already paid off, and in future it will continue to, because the effort you put in should always pay back.