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Ana de Armas turns 36: How the Oscar nominee jumps between dramas and action movies

In addition to receiving acclaim for playing characters such as Marilyn Monroe, the Cuban actress has taken on roles in action films alongside Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling

Ana de Armas, Blonde
Ana de Armas, as Marilyn Monroe, in 'Blonde' (2022).Netflix
Alonso Martínez

2024 will be a year of rest for Ana de Armas, the actress who turns 36 today and is in one of the best moments of her career. Although for some actors a year without releases may be a bad sign, in her case it seems understandable after spending almost a decade in Hollywood, where she arrived after another ten10 years of acting in Cuba (where she was born) and Spain.

During this time, the actress has developed into a versatile talent, primarily in dramas and thrillers, working close to well-known actors such as Keanu Reeves (in Knock, Knock, her English-language debut), Miles Teller and Jonah Hill (in War Dogs), and acclaimed directors such as Denis Villeneuve (in Blade Runner 2049), and Rian Johnson (in Knives Out), which propelled her on her way to an Oscar nomination after working with Andrew Dominik on the controversial Blonde, inspired by the life of Marilyn Monroe. However, the actress has not stuck to these types of roles and has tried to branch out into action roles, similar to other performers such as Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron and even Cate Blanchett.

The person who saw Ana de Armas’ capabilities as an action star was Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of the most recent installment of the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die. In an interview with Variety, the actress mentioned that the director approached her to offer her the role in the film starring Daniel Craig. However, she was hesitant to accept right away as she was not expecting a classic “Bond girl” role, which are now viewed negatively because of the way he portrayed women in the franchise. “I told Cary I would not just say yes because this is Bond and I kind of pressured him to write something to show me.”

What Fukunaga delivered was a strong, confident, independent character who holds her own with James Bond. The actress’s relevance caused her to appear predominantly in the film’s marketing materials, which resulted in disappointment on the part of fans at the cinema when they noticed that her character appeared in only a few scenes. This was not the first time something similar had happened: two fans recently settled a false advertising lawsuit against Universal. The plaintiffs claimed that they had rented Danny Boyle’s Yesterday because it featured Ana de Armas, but when they watched the movie, they noticed that the scene had been deleted. The lawsuit is a lot to talk about, but it is an example of how Hollywood noticed the impact of the actress and how they wanted to profit from it.

The role catapulted De Armas to the height of her fame (so far). She was nominated for an Oscar for her work in the 2022 film inspired by the life of film icon Marilyn Monroe, Blonde, directed by the acclaimed Andrew Dominik. The job was not easy, especially since the actress had to play such a recognizable American character while still having a strong Cuban accent. After working on it and getting deeper into the character, she managed to embody her, convincing the critics. Although the film generated mixed reactions for the way it depicted Monroe’s life, her performance was applauded, and it seemed a sign that it would not be the first time she would receive such an honor (Michelle Yeoh took the award during the ceremony).

Ghosted
Ana de Armas in 'Ghosted' (2023).Apple TV+

That same year, De Armas stepped into her first action role after No Time To Die. It was in the Russo brothers-directed thriller The Gray Man that she took a more active role in action choreography alongside her Knives Out co-star Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling. The movie was not that well received. The action sequences received good reviews, as did the work of the three lead actors; however, for many the film was not memorable in terms of plot or its themes.

It seems that action films are not good territory for the actress. Her next foray into action films was Ghosted, an Apple TV+ original that received a wave of negative reviews. The premise was promising: a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-style action/comedy/romance starring two of the best-known actors of the moment (she was again appearing alongside Chris Evans). However, reviews noted that there was no chemistry between Evans and De Armas, and that the film was “soul-less,” that “it’s a weightless spectacle of miserable excess,” and even the word “repellent” was used to describe it.

The piece opened the discussion about movies created only for streaming and how they increasingly resemble made-for-TV-only tapes, whose quality is expected to never be as high as those that make it to movie theaters. There was also a debate on whether this can affect the credibility of the actors (which might not happen, if we take into account that movies released via streaming don’t stay long in people’s imagination).

Despite the fact that the film became the most watched premiere in the history of Apple TV+, the audience’s opinion was not positive either. On Rotten Tomatoes, viewers’ ratings are usually higher than those of strict movie experts. However, in this case the difference between the two percentages was not that big. In 2024, it was even nominated for three Golden Raspberry Awards (including one in the “Worst On-Screen Couple” category).

Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Knives Out
Lakeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans and Daniel Craig in 'Knives Out' (2019).Lionsgate Movies

However, it seems that the actress is not looking to categorize herself as a performer in that type of film. “After Bond, there was a wave of these kinds of action roles and it was fun. I chose the ones that I thought were the most exciting or were with people I wanted to work with,” she mentioned to Vanity Fair. “I feel like Ballerina is going to be the end of that, at least for now, because I’m craving a wave of Blonde-type films. I want to do work with directors and do character work. I have had the opportunity to meet directors that I want to work with. The people that I’m getting access to is changing, and that makes me very excited.”

Ballerina is the long-awaited film that will be part of the John Wick franchise, in which she will play a woman who seeks revenge on her family’s killers. It will be released in 2025, in time to restart the actress’ career, and will serve as a reunion between her and Keanu Reeves, who will return to his role of the professional killer in the film, of which little has been said so far, as it is still in production.

On the other hand, De Armas is also at the beginning of her career as a producer. She took an executive position on Ghosted and has made more decisions on Ballerina, where she called for the script to be done by a woman. “We now have an excellent script with a woman’s touch.” She has also mentioned that one of her next goals is to produce a feature film entirely, while she hopes to pursue roles in major motion pictures.

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