Everything you wanted to know about Ana de Armas, the No Time To Die actor

Published on Feb 28, 2020 06:11 PM IST

She will appear as CIA operative Paloma in the 25th James Bond film.

Hindustan Times | ByRohan Naahar

Jamie Lee Curtis had no idea who Ana de Armas was when they first met on the sets of Knives Out. But she was impressed. So impressed, in fact, that she wrote an email to Steven Spielberg and demanded that he pay attention. Little did Curtis know that de Armas had already starred in films with Keanu Reeves (Knock Knock) and Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049).

Her rise in the famously fickle world of Hollywood has been quite the fairytale itself. De Armas was on her way to the airport when she was spotted by a producer, who insisted that she meet with filmmaker, Eli Roth. The feminist exploitation picture, Knock Knock, would mark her Hollywood debut. In six years, she’s gone from being a non-English speaking immigrant to landing a role as Marilyn Monroe, perhaps one of the most enduring cultural icons for the US.

De Armas said that the optics of “a Cuban playing Marilyn” weren’t lost on her. Titled Blonde, the film will be her third for the streaming giant, Netflix, following Sergio, a biographical drama film about United Nations diplomat, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and Wasp Network, the new movie from French filmmaker, Olivier Assayas. The latter features Penelope Cruz, an actor whose cross-border appeal de Armas must aspire to, and whose magnetic screen presence she already possesses. “She’s going to be like Sophia Loren,” Jamie Lee Curtis told Vanity Fair, after having familiarised herself with de Armas’ talents. “One of those rare crossover worldwide sensations.”

But before she takes on the world, she will appear as CIA operative Paloma in the 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die. Conceived by director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and written by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the character was created specifically for de Armas. Brief visuals of Paloma, wearing a stunning midnight blue cocktail dress and brandishing a gun in each hand, indicate a new take on the outdated concept of a Bond girl — stylish yet savage, not a damsel in distress but a saviour.

No Time To Die, in addition to being star Daniel Craig’s final film as the iconic British spy, will be the first Bond movie in a post-Time’s Up era. In 2017, hundreds of women came forward and spoke up against decades of systemic sexism that had made them vulnerable to abuse and harassment, in what came to be known as the MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Overnight, the film industry vowed to be more responsible. “I don’t even call them Bond girls,” Craig told Vanity Fair. “I’m not going to deny it to anybody else. It’s just I can’t have a sensible conversation with somebody if we’re talking about ‘Bond girls’”.

Gone are the days when women in Bond films would be named after sex acts or immature puns (remember Pussy Galore in Goldfinger or Dr Holly Goodhead in Moonraker?). In No Time To Die, de Armas will be joined by Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swann, the psychologist Bond entered into a mature relationship with in Spectre, and Lashana Lynch’s mysterious 00 agent Nomi, purportedly his replacement at MI6. “Bond’s been evolving along with all the other men in the world,” custodian of the franchise, Barbara Broccoli, told Variety. “Some have just gotten there more quickly than others.”

It would be the second time de Armas has worked with Craig. And to think that she almost passed on the opportunity the first time. Like everyone else who’s seen Knives Out, de Armas didn’t expect her character in the film to be more than just a housekeeper. “The script description said Marta was a caretaker, Latina, and pretty. That’s it. And I’m like, What? I’m not doing that,” she told Vanity Fair. “Because for a Latina in a setup like this, with a wealthy family and this cast, all I thought was, What am I going to do here? I’ll probably be standing in a corner, not having much to say.”

But like Marta, who is gradually revealed to be the protagonist of Knives Out — a beacon of decency and a symbol for immigrant ingenuity in a world dominated by rich white folks — de Armas perhaps doesn’t realise just yet that she is a star.

At just 31, she has worked with acclaimed filmmakers such as Assayas and Denis Villeneuve, Fukunaga and Adrian Lyne. Ana de Armas is armed, and you better believe she’s dangerous.

Top 5 Ana de Armas films

Knock Knock

Ana de Armas made a splashy debut in Hollywood with director Eli Roth’s psychosexual film about two young women who decide to teach a straying married man a lesson.

War Dogs

Before director Todd Phillips fully crossed over from making R-rated comedies to prestige dramas like Joker, he helmed War Dogs, a dark comedy about two frat-boys-turned-arms dealers. De Armas played the girlfriend of one of them.

Blade Runner 2049

De Armas’ performance as the holographic AI girlfriend to Ryan Gosling’s character in Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-winning science-fiction sequel encouraged a debate about patriarchy and sexism.

Knives Out

Despite a story that features a mysterious writer and a flamboyant detective, director Rian Johnson’s searingly political whodunit, like Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-winning Roma, chose to highlight a character who would normally have been reduced to the sidelines.

No Time To Die

De Armas’ final film before she gets the opportunity to play a lead for the first time in Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe movie. No Time To Die is due out in April.

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