Ana de Armas: “I don’t want to live on autopilot”

“Vlong and short steps, Dad repeated. You have to be aware of what you want, have a purpose, but take it one day at a time, thinking only of giving your best in that moment. I’ve always lived like this ». With the theory of “short steps”, Ana de Armas has come a long way. She made her debut at 16 in her native Cuba and at 18 she moved to Spain. Time to make a name for itself with two TV series (El Internado And Hispania, the leyenda) and, at 27, there she is already flying to Los Angeles. Where he studied English full time for four months before filming Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves. And the irresistible rise continued: Blade Runner 2049 with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford; Murder Dinner-Knives Out with Daniel Craig; No Time To Die as Bond girl; Deep waters with Ben Affleck (convict was the set, short but very photographed relationship). In the end The Gray Managain with Gosling.

Love at first sight

Now, however, the most demanding challenge: to impersonate – she, a Latina, very brown – the Hollywood icon par excellence: Marilyn Monroe. Result? A performance that will ensure her Oscar nomination. “I had discovered Ana in Knock Knock and it was love at first sight, “he said Andrew Dominik, the director of Blonde (based on Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional biography of the same name and, from 28 September, on Netflix). “She looks like Marilyn and shares a characteristic of hers: when she appears on the screen, only she is seen.”

Despite the “shock”, de Armas had to earn the part: “A series of meetings with Andrew, the test with the costumes and with the colored contact lenses, the tests with the voice coachthe final audition … »she says, obviously nervous. And he admits: «Right now I feel butterflies in my stomach at the idea of ​​everyone seeing the film! But – I confess – I’m going to look for the challenges! My goal is not to show others what I am able to do, but to improve myself, learn, not get bored. I don’t intend to live on autopilot. I like to be in control: I move when I want to move, stop when I want to stop ».

Ana de Armas during The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Monday 19th September in New York City in a Brunello Cucinelli FW22 total look. (Press Office)

Ana de Armas: more Norma than Marilyn

What does it have in common with Marilyn?
Definitely nothing: I was surprised by the speed with which I was able to understand it. Sure, it made it easier for me to have it same age, working hard – in the same environment – to be noticed, respected, taken seriously… It was inevitable to empathize, even with a very different story! Andrew had warned me: you must prepare to be heartbroken. And so it was: so much sadness, so much heaviness. Blonde focuses more on the traumas of the existence of Norma Jeane Baker, Marilyn’s real name, than on the successful diva.

Blonde. Ana de Armas is Marilyn Monroe. Cr. Netflix © 2022

How much did he know about her?
A little. Marilyn was perhaps the most famous person in the world and Norma Jeane, for this very reason, was the most invisible. Marilyn was the most desired of her, Norma Jeane of her that of her rejected by her parents (she never knew her father; her mother, who did not want her, was locked up in a psychiatric hospital “destining her” – at six – at the orphanage, ed). To “connect” to his experience, I used the lock pick of vulnerability: each of us knows what it means to feel vulnerable.

Joyce Carol Oates endorsed the film, explaining that there is “a feminist eye”. It seems to us that the victim (of parents, producers, men) comes out more than the “creator of herself”.

Blonde. Ana de Armas on the set with director Andrew Dominik. Cr. Matt Kennedy / Netflix © 2022

“Marilyn” was an armor and a prison at the same time: Norma Jeane – who had also wanted this career, was ambitious – was unable to handle it. Feminism lies in the choice of putting her in the foreground, of showing things that people don’t necessarily want to know, see, hear. The first time I met the director, after reading the script, I said to him: “But this is a horror movie!”. Norma Jeane needed someone to take care of her, save her, and – regularly – who she should “Saving her” exploited it. A cycle that repeated itself, an infinite spiral, with the spotlight constantly focused on him.

From Los Angeles to New York

Ana de Armas with Ben Affleck in Deep Waters – Photo Contrast

Speaking of reflectors… In Blonde there is a conversation on the subject: what does an actress want? What do you want, in your opinion?
Mmmmhmmm… Don’t choose this job if you don’t want to be seen, if you are a private person and not ready to share a part of you with the public: the character you play is you – it can be fiction, it can be biopic – but there you are. . And not everything you show is cute or desirable or admirable.

Ben Affleck, love for Ana de Armas saved him from alcohol

Ben Affleck, love for Ana de Armas saved him from alcohol

Then?
There is a part of me that wants to open up to people, to connect, and there is a part that withdraws and reveals itself exclusively with family and friends. Blonde it taught me to protect my private self even more from my public self, to stay sane. Nobody intends to undergo the pressure and attention that Marilyn experienced and that, in part, I also experienced (so much so that she left Los Angeles to move to New York with her boyfriend Paul Boukadakis, a manager of Tinder, ed).

When did you realize that acting was your way?
Oh my Gosh! I knew it, I just knew it, ever since I was ten or eleven. I grew up in Cuba and I was glued to the TV, watching whatever they broadcast: I watched, I went to the mirror and I repeated the scenes. However, I would never have imagined being called abroad: I dreamed of being a Cuban actress in Cuba. At 13 I told my (father, teacher, graduate in Philosophy in the then USSR; mother employed in the Ministry of Education , ed): I want to go to acting school.

Ana de Armas with Don Johnson and Jamie Lee Curtis in Murder Supper.

And yours?
No reaction, I think they already knew that too (laughs).

“We Cubans look like you”

What films were you watching?
Lots of Italians, very similar to the Cuban ones: if I had removed the audio, I would not have been able to distinguish them! I know the entire filmography of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea (the director of Strawberries and chocolateone of the founders of the Cuban Institute of Film Art and Culture, wanted by Fidel Castro in 1959, ed) who, not surprisingly, studied at the Experimental Center of Cinematography in Rome, where he was influenced by neorealism and by Felllini. We Cubans are a bit like you, we are alike.

Ana de Armas on the Blonde red carpet in Venice – photo Getty

She is now a citizen of the world, though.
But my roots are everything: in Cuba I have my home, my family, my friends. I love my country, my people. If I were to be born again, I would like to be born there again. I am very proud.

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Next challenge?
I do not know. Production for sure: later Ghosted (in which he stars with Adrien Brody and Chris Evans, soon on Apple Tv +, ed), another project is already underway.

How it was?
Long view, short steps …

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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