& # 39; Knives Out & # 39; Ana de Armas certifies as a star, just in time for 007 and Marilyn Monroe

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Three days after filming her next movie in New Orleans, Ana de Armas was on another flight back to Los Angeles. It is typical of the career roller coaster she has been on for the past year that she was back in town for the Hollywood premiere of "Knives Out", the star-studded murder mystery that she steals under a treasured ensemble cast led by Daniel Craig, her costar in next year's 007 flick "No Time to Die."

The pace of De Armas career-climbing has been relentless; after "Knives Out" opened November 27, she has at least five films on tap for release in 2020, including the Bond adventure and a Marilyn Monroe biopic for Netflix. As De Armas sipped coffee and blew the breeze through a sunny balcony window in Beverly Hills, she took a moment to catch her breath and figure out what it was meant to work non-stop.

"I'm not complaining, because it took a long time to get here and I live my dream," said De Armas, who wore a delicate gold necklace over a black jacket. On the ground floor below, a statue of Monroe greeted visitors, the skirt of her iconic white dress caught in an imaginary wind.

“This is exactly what I want to be and what I want to do – but god, I am tired. I feel that I repeat that often. But I'm tired. & # 39; De Armas smiled at the thought of taking a rest after all she did to get to this point in her life, in the world, in her career. "I think 2020 is the year for me to sleep a bit more."

Sleep can wait; it's now time for De Armas. She has already stolen scenes like a heartbreaking A.I. Joi mentioned in "Blade Runner 2049" in 2017, but the Cuban actress who became a Spanish TV star is ready for a real breakout run that starts with "Knives Out" written and directed by "Star Wars: The Last Jedi ", mastermind Rian Johnson.

In addition to Craig, the row of talent includes the assassin Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson and Lakeith Stanfield.

But as the credits roll, "Knives Out" makes you wonder: Who is she?

Marta and the Thrombeys: Ana de Armas, center, stars with Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, K Callan, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindholm, Toni Collette and Katherine Langford in & # 39; Knives Out & # 39 ;.

(Claire Folger / Lionsgate)

The Armas, 31, plays the role of Marta, the caretaker of the legendary mystery writer Harlan Thrombey (Plummer), whose extended family is too busy to count the zeros on their bank accounts to recognize their own privilege. After Harlan dies of a sudden and creepy death, Marta is immersed in a shark tank of family members hungry for his estate, while two local detectives and a deep-fried private investigator named Benoit Blanc (Craig) snoop around and suspect cheating.

It is a career-making role that gives De Armas its biggest national spotlight so far.

Coming from the small coastal town of Santa Cruz del Norte outside of Havana, De Armas caught the acting bug as a child. She moved to Spain at the age of 18 and soon became a TV star. Three years ago she made her second big leap in faith when she moved to Los Angeles, focused on Hollywood.

It was not the easiest transition in showbiz history. When she arrived in L.A., De Armas had experience and cachet abroad, but she did not speak English. That didn't stop her from having meetings, including one with 007 producer Barbara Broccoli (the payout came years later when director Cary Fukunaga cast a new kind of Bond girl for "No Time to Die").

Far from home and new to Hollywood, De Armas delved into months of intensive language study. She ended up in a succession of English-language roles: in Eli Roth & # 39; s "Knock Knock" opposite Keanu Reeves, the boxing drama "Hands of Stone" with Édgar Ramírez and Robert De Niro and "War Dogs" with Miles Teller. But it was gripping humanity that she lent to a self-conscious A.I. in "Blade Runner 2049" which put De Armas on the radar of many filmmakers – including Johnson.


The Armas "dun it: After this month's" Knives Out "the Cuban actress will be featured in Bond film" No Time To Die ", Marilyn Monroe pic" Blonde "and" Deep Water, "opposite Ben Affleck.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The director of "Brick" and "Looper" followed his own big leap in the "Star Wars" franchise with an intimate crime comedy with a social and political inclination. Now that "Knives Out" was made – and quickly, thanks to an opening in Craig's hectic James Bond scheme – he needed the right emotional anchor to hold everything together.

The Armas was the Netflix biopic & # 39; Sergio & # 39; in Thailand. packing over the American diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello when she was summoned to put herself on tape for the part. The logline didn't say much and frankly didn't impress her – & # 39; Nurse. Latina. Great, & she recalls – but she insisted on reading the script, as always, regardless of the size of the film.

When she did that, she was surprised to discover that Marta was not only multi-layered, but also the center of the story. The character of the working class, specifically written as Latina, stands up against a clan of high-crust enemies. It is not only peripheral window covering or a stereotype or replaceable.

"Usually, if you are Latina, what is usually emphasized is not necessarily the most positive trait," De Armas said. "These characters, they don't exist."

Johnson wanted to meet her to see if she was the right actor to carry the heart of his winding murder mystery, so De Armas flew to Boston to read the play. She was cast and had five days to stop at home in LA to pick up her dog, Elvis, before filming began.


Director Rian Johnson about casting De Armas in a central role in his star-studded ensemble: "The first thing she said to me was:" This girl has to fight. "

(Claire Folger / Lionsgate)

Johnson saw in De Armas a quality akin to that of Audrey Hepburn. "You are immediately at her side when she is on camera," he said. “That, combined with her inherent power and the fact that I knew she would play Marta as a hunter, was very important, considering that she is a kind-hearted person in the middle of it. The first thing she said to me was, "This girl has to fight." And that really made me think, "Ana can do it."

The dizzying timeframe was one thing, but the caliber of its costars was even more daunting, De Armas says. A crucial scene that captured the rhythm of the film and the core information took three days to film – only she and Oscar winner Plummer, who brought the most important moment in the photo to life in a small study full of books.

She recently rediscovered a diary she had kept around the time filming began last fall. "It said:" I am days away from starting this film and I do not feel prepared, "De Armas recalled." I had no idea what Marta would be; it just happened. I felt scared. I felt like she was thrown into this situation and had to deal with it and navigate through it in the best possible way. So I thought, "Maybe I feel exactly what I should feel."

She had Marta down by the second week of filming. "This part just gave me so many things to do," she said. “I was nervous about the tone. I was nervous about the comedy. I never thought I was funny. & # 39; She paused and laughed, as if it had never occurred to her before & # 39; Knives Out & # 39 ;, in which Marta plays films to a colorful crew, ranging from passive aggressive to downright despicable. "I think I'm funny!"

She has the chops. She can do it all. And it's time for people to sit up and notice.

Daniel Craig on his co-star "Knives Out" and "No Time To Die"

Craig, who describes himself as "the least anecdotal actor you'll ever meet," gives De Armas even more praise after working on two back-to-back films with her.

"She's just a very good actress – there's not much left," said Craig, whose watchful Blanc hires an overwhelmed Marta to help with his investigation, even while keeping her on his list of suspects in "Knives Out" nature) of Bond's relationship with De Armas & # 39; Paloma in & # 39; No Time to Die & # 39 ;, on the other hand, remains wraps, but you can expect a completely different dynamic in the slender spy thriller.)

"She has the chops. She can do it all. And it's time for people to sit up and notice, & # 39; he said, & # 39; the execution she gives in this is remarkable and amidst all the chaos of the scene-chewing and everything that happens in the film, she has this consistency – and that's why she's very funny, but it's the essence of it and it's a real achievement. The scenes with her and Christopher Plummer are heartbreaking. are beautiful. And having it in the film is just a testament to her skills as an actor. "

Under the beauty and braces, Craig was already training and preparing for Bond when & # 39; Knives Out & # 39; was filming. But De Armas had no idea that she would join him until later, when she received a surprise call from Fukunaga, whom she had previously met for a project that never came about.


Johnson sets the table for cozy, knitted cable Christie-meets-Hitchcock intrigues, conducting De Armas and Chris Evans on the set "Knives Out".

(Claire Folger / Lionsgate)

"He said:" A part of the film is set in Cuba. This role does not exist, but I think I will write something for you. Do you want to do it? & # 39; & # 39; She said. In addition to getting a tailor-made Bond role, Emmy-winning "Fleabag" maker Phoebe Waller-Bridge started writing her dialogue, raising her excitement. "I was like that" Aaaaaah! Of course. & # 39; And then I thought: & # 39; Wait – I'd like to read it first. & # 39; & # 39;

They transferred her scenes and she was sold. Bond women of yore had never felt attached to her, De Armas said. However, Paloma felt real.

"I wouldn't say she's used to, because if she has to do her job, she will," she said. “But (she) is defective. She says what she feels, she is nervous, she is scared. It is human. When I read it, I thought: & # 39; Oh, wait – I can be a Bond girl. That's me I'm so messy. & # 39; That was what felt so appealing, on top of what she actually does in the story, which is a new step to give women a more powerful and stronger place in the movies. & # 39;

For example, Johnson can't wait to see his two "Knives Out" stars together again in the Bond movie in April. "I'll be happy," he said. "I'll be the one in the opening night of the audience, shouting:" Marta, kick his ass! "

De Armas has many more projects planned for 2020, for which she apologizes in advance. "I'm sorry, you're getting bored!" She joked. They include & # 39; Sergio & # 39 ;, & # 39; Wasp Network & # 39 ;, which she recorded for director Olivier Assayas at home in Cuba, and currently filming & # 39; Deep Water & # 39 ;, the first photo of the & # 39; Fatal Attraction & # 39; filmmaker Adrian Lyne in 18 years and her opposite forms Ben Affleck as a married couple engaged in a dangerous game, adapted from the novel by Patricia Highsmith.

She admits that she sometimes carries her characters with her after filming, and given the lightning-fast roles that have fallen into place in the past year alone, there is one that she didn't have the time or space to move aside put. Everywhere De Armas comes in L.A. she feels Marilyn.

The original plan was to train and film Bond and then return to L.A. to let her mind and body relax in playing Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix drama & # 39; Blonde & # 39; by Andrew Dominik, adapted from the historical novel by Joyce Carol Oates. But after filming on the spy cracker was delayed due to the fact that Craig was injured, De Armas first plunged into "Blonde", depicting the Hollywood icon during an intense three-month shoot.

"It was kind of crazy, because the physicality of the two characters is so different, and their way of thinking," she said. "I've never done so much intense work and research and preparation as with Marilyn. I've never done anything like that – or will I ever do it again. & # 39;

After she & # 39; Blonde & # 39; had packed up on Friday at 2 o'clock, she was back to the London set & # 39; No Time to Die & # 39; the following Monday. "So I'll be a Bond girl with a Marilyn Monroe body," she laughed.


"It feels good," said De Armas. "I feel like it's finally bearing fruit, all the hard work. Leaving family behind, leaving friends behind … all that sacrificing and risking things – risking everything. & # 39;

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

She thought of the Marilyn statue on the sidewalk below, frozen in time, as many would like to remember the pictogram. She thought of her own early years in Hollywood. After learning English, the hardest part came when the industry's continued toxicity and image obsession came in, sowing seeds of self-doubt as she filled roles, before good friends reminded her to trust herself.

She grew up in Cuba without video games or VHS tapes or Barbie dolls and remembers playing outside with kids from the neighborhood and using her imagination. When she watched movies and TV, it wasn't the stars in American movies that inspired her.

"The actors I admired and wanted to become an actor were Cubans, because those were the people who told my life," she said and mentioned a few: Daisy Granados, Luis Alberto García, Isabel Santos. "I never thought I'd be Marilyn Monroe, or a Bond girl, or one of these chances I got. Or – not really given, & # 39; she corrected herself." I have them. "

Soon it will be back to New Orleans to resume filming of "Deep Water", whose main characters are "so far removed from anything I would find rational or acceptable in a relationship." Then she thinks she will be finished with LA For now.

Her plan is to split time in Havana, get closer to family, and give New York a chance. "For a little bit – just to try it," she grins. "I don't know how long, but I feel it is time to leave."

And if she doesn't find more interesting projects with interesting directors in the future to keep her schedule busy and nurture her mind, she plans to write her own. "I think I need some writing lessons first," she said, "but I have ideas."

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