Ana de Armas arrived in LA with drop-dead looks and an insatiable drive to be the best actress in the biz. After a few short years, this vivacious Latina has quickly become one of the most sought-after leading ladies in Hollywood. Let’s take a look at Ana de Armas’ journey, from her humble beginnings in Cuba to where she is today.
Ana Celia de Armas Caso was born on April 30th, 1988 in Havana, Cuba. Her early life was respectably middle-class, with her mother working for the Ministry of Education and her father bouncing around from principal positions to working as a bank manager. But despite her parents' best efforts, her home life was about to get worrying.
In the mid-90s, Cuba slid into severe economic depression and daily life for the de Armas family wasn’t easy. They struggled with food rationing, fuel shortages, and electricity blackouts. Since the family had no internet and didn't own a video or DVD player, de Armas had very limited knowledge of popular culture beyond Cuba. But this had other strange consequences.
De Armas used the lack of modern conveniences and distractions from the outside world to her advantage—it allowed her to focus on nurturing her imagination and creativity. From an early age, Ana memorized and practiced the monologues she saw in movie matinees, and at the age of 12, she declared her ambition to become an actress. Then she followed through, big time.
At 14, de Armas auditioned for and won a spot at Havana's prestigious National Theatre. She was thrilled to be allowed the luxury of concentrating on acting full-time and she threw herself into her studies, even hitchhiking to class if need be. But just before finishing the program, de Armas threw the school a curveball.
In the months before submitting her final thesis, de Armas actually left the school. That said, she had good reason: In Cuba, all graduates are forbidden from leaving the country without first completing three years of mandatory service to the community. Well, de Armas had a laser focus on her career and didn't want to get stuck. Instead, she struck out in a big way.
Although de Armas enjoyed her time in theatre school, she figured she could achieve more by striking out on her own. And here's the lucky part: De Armas already had Spanish citizenship through her grandparents—so she moved to Madrid to pursue her dreams. Right from the beginning, her decision was life-changing.
At 18, Ana was living in Madrid pursuing her acting dreams. She’d been auditioning for roles for just two short months when she was cast as Carolina in the teen drama El Internado. The TV show about kids in a boarding school catapulted her to celebrity status in Spain. Yet this big break also had a major drawback.
While working on El Internado, de Armas became mega famous in Spain...a little too famous. Although she worked on the show for a decade, she felt it damaged her burgeoning career by pinning her only to "teenage roles," and she eventually asked to get written out of the series. To most, it probably seemed like huge mistake...but de Armas had a bigger plan.
Around the time she quit El Internado, de Armas took a bold step and hired a Hollywood agent. But it didn't stop there. With her new agent's encouragement, de Armas took another massive risk and moved to Tinseltown in 2014. Of course, we now know that it worked out for her...but there is one terrifying detail from those early days most don't realize.
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When de Armas arrived in LA in 2014, she spoke very little English. In fact, during her early auditions, she didn’t even know what she was saying. But no way was a little language barrier going to stop the audacious Ana from achieving success. She went full steam ahead and learned her lines phonetically. That said, her next move was something of a step backward.
Ana de Armas knew she didn’t want to limit herself to playing Latina characters. And so, always willing to take a risk, the actress put her auditions on hold and enrolled herself in months of full-time school to learn the English language. Essentially, de Armas herself admitted, she was beginning her career "from scratch". It was no smooth ride.
In Los Angeles, de Armas soon found herself nabbing roles...but finding new problems to go with them. When she got a dream role opposite none other than Keanu Reeves in the 2015 thriller Knock Knock, de Armas still wasn't fluent in English and was memorizing the syllables in her lines, not the words' meanings.
Perhaps as a result, one scathing reviewer called her "uncharismatic". Only there was a surprising development.
De Armas's Knock Knock co-star Keanu Reeves was so impressed with her performance on the film that he called to ask her to star in his upcoming flick Daughter of God. The part of Isabel de la Cruz would make good use of de Armas's native Spanish, and she likely thought that this was her ticket to adult, American stardom. And then it all fell apart.
When de Armas wrapped Daughter of God, the film went through a nightmarish post-production, eventually only being released in 2016, now under the name Exposed. One thing that wasn't exposed? Ana de Armas's talent. By the time the film came out, the producers had cut her starring role down to almost nothing.
It must have been a crushing blow, but de Armas got an excellent revenge.
It's true what they say: The best revenge really is living well. De Armas moved on from the Exposed snub and into none other than a prominent supporting role in the highly-anticipated Blade Runner 2049. Her work as Joi, Ryan Gosling's holographic AI girlfriend, won de Armas rave reviews. What came next rocketed her to stardom.
De Armas' breakthrough role finally came with her portrayal of an immigrant nurse in the ensemble murder mystery Knives Out. In pivotal scenes, she played opposite acting legend Christopher Plummer, and de Armas more than held her own. This, more than anything else, cemented her in the public consciousness.
However, it also led to a humiliating incident with one of her famous co-stars.
Apparently, de Armas's Knives Out co-star Jamie Lee Curtis hadn't seen any of her previous movies. In fact, when the actors first met on set, Curtis assumed de Armas was new to Hollywood. Curtis said. “I made an assumption that she was an inexperienced, unsophisticated young woman. That first day, I was like, ‘Oh, what are your dreams?’”
If you think this is bad, well, buckle up folks—it got so much worse.
Curtis really let it all hang out in her confession about her first impression of de Armas. The dynastic acting legend went on, “I assumed—and I say this with real embarrassment—because she had come from Cuba, that she had just arrived". By this time de Armas had been in LA for more than four years and had 15+ years in the film industry.
Nonetheless, Curtis had the decency to be embarrassed about it, and the two are still friends today. Besides, a huge opportunity was already coming Ana's way.
In 2021, shortly after her huge success in Knives Out, de Armas landed the highly coveted role of a Bond Girl in No Time To Die. Actually, that's not even the best part. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga wrote the part of the effervescent and capricious Cuban agent, Paloma, for de Armas specifically. But once she got the role, filming was no walk in the park.
No Time to Die reunited de Armas with her Knives Out co-star Daniel Craig, and the role required de Armas to go through rigorous firearms and fight training, all for 10 minutes of screen time. That said, if you've seen the movie, you know those 10 minutes are very intense. It obviously paid off, because soon fans were making a strange request.
De Armas's turn as Paloma has gone down as one of the most memorable Bond Girl moments in recent history, maybe in the history of the franchise. And with all the rave reviews coming off her Bond stint, there are now calls for a Paloma spin-off movie. But de Armas's response to this furor might raise a few eyebrows.
Get this: De Armas herself is shocked she managed to pull off the role of Paloma, and she's not necessarily gunning for more action films. As she said, “The truth is, I never thought I was going to be an action actor. It wasn’t my thing...This is not where I’m the most comfortable, to be honest, because I feel ridiculous". So, maybe put a pin in that one, fans.
But if she was worried about that discomfort, the next turn of events probably made her itchy all over.
As shooting began on No Time To Die, it was clear to everyone on-set that Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig had sizzling chemistry, and the scripted sexy one-upmanship between Bond and Paloma only added further fuel to the fire. Soon, rumors began to swirl that Craig was cheating on his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, with de Armas.
The tabloids had an absolute field day over the speculation, but it seems there was never any real evidence that the two were anything more than friends. Except, there was some scandalous romance coming for de Armas.
After her success in the Bond films, de Armas's next project was the racy thriller Deep Water. Director Adrian Lyne was most famous for his steamy thrillers of the 80s and 90s like Fatal Attraction and Unfaithful, and fans eagerly anticipated her psychological portrayal of Melinda, an adulterous wife. Only when de Armas arrived on set, she got quite the shock.
Deep Water had a somewhat slippery subplot involving snails. In fact, there were so many snails that a snail wrangler was on set to ensure the stars were comfortable handling the animals. Ana was not enthused about working with the shelled actors, saying: "I just think they're gross". Despite this, Ana snailed, I mean nailed, her scenes.
But gooey gastropods wouldn't be the only thing de Armas picked up on set.
As a sign of her growing fame, de Armas's co-star in Deep Water was sometimes-troubled heartthrob Ben Affleck, who played her character Melinda's frustrated and jealous husband. And there was a reason they got their parts. Director Adrian Lyne said, "Right from the beginning...I sensed that chemistry between them".
Well, Lyne got that one right. With real-life sparks flying, they quickly ramped up their relationship.
Although things got hot and heavy between Affleck and de Armas, some people in the media were more than a little irked by the relationship. After all, there is a 14-year age difference between them, and they were both at very different stages of their careers at the time they filmed Deep Water.
Understandably then, they tried to keep it all under wraps for a while. Well, they failed.
While filming Deep Water together, de Armas and Affleck could stay in a bubble. But soon, the truth came out. In March 2020, paparazzi spotted them traveling abroad to de Armas's home country of Cuba, where she took Ben on a tour of Havana and showed him all her favorite places.
Their courtship was moving fast. Even so, the next headline was stunning.
Soon after rumors of the relationship began circulating, de Armas was photographed wearing what looked like a massive engagement ring. Given Affleck's romantic history, the gossip rags went wild—until everyone realized the sparkler was likely nothing more than a movie prop. But thing were getting serious.
After going official with their relationship in March 2020, Ana and Ben became the unofficial “it couple” of the pandemic. While the rest of us stocked up on hand sanitizer and hoarded toilet paper, the near-daily social media reports of the charming lovebirds boosted our spirits and reminded us of happier times.
During this time, Affleck was vocal about de Armas' acting abilities and quick to lavish praise, gushing, “Not only does she know how to do it with ease, but she also manages to surprise you in every shot. Her talent is infinite”. And for her part, de Armas was having all the same feels: "The first time we read the scenes together, it became pretty clear he was going to do something exceptional with a very complex role," she said.
They were obsessed with each other...and soon the world saw just how much.
In April 2020, de Armas made the relationship Instagram official. Her timing was impeccable. In celebration of her 32nd birthday, she posted photos of Affleck for the first time since they had begun dating. De Armas shared numerous shots from her special day, including a scenic hiking selfie showing Affleck with his arms wrapped tenderly around her waist.
Their next social media appearance would take PDA to new heights.
There seemed to be no stopping the BenAna publicity train. In May 2020, the couple appeared in rapper Residenté's music video, “Antes Que el Mundo Se Acabe". Taped during the birthday getaway, the pair come in at 2:23 smooching. If that sounds familiar, maybe it's because of that music video Affleck made with his once ex, now wife Jennifer Lopez. And maybe this is when the bad vibes started...
After months of paparazzi shots of the couple on dog walks, people began to protest that de Armas and Affleck's relationship was nothing more than a PR stunt meant to bolster de Armas's career, not to mention Affleck's as well. Of course, as always, haters are gonna hate...but they soon got some bizarre fodder for their suspicions.
In June of 2020, de Armas got one step closer to Affleck's inner circle when people spotted her playing with his three children. Affleck's ex-wife Jennifer Garner was reportedly (understandably) hesitant to allow the children to meet de Armas, so this represented a huge step up in their relationship. But there was one incredibly weird thing about these meetings.
To this day, no one really knows why, but during this kids' visit, Affleck's children and de Armas were spotted playing with...a life-sized cardboard cut out of de Armas herself. Yes that cut out, the one that someone also put up on her front lawn for all to see. Was it a joke? Probably. Was it weird to make that joke public? Yeah.
Still, spending time with Ben’s kids was a big step for de Armas, and her next move was a total leap of faith.
After meeting the kids and having her own doppelgänger constructed, Ana took a terrifying next step. That winter, she put her own property on the market and moved in with Affleck full-time. It was official: they were cohabitating. Maybe the naysayers were wrong? Unfortunately, no. Because this is where it all started to unravel for them.
Just months after moving in together, the world got shocking news: BenAna was over. More than that, it was extremely unclear why, how, or when, especially since they had only just moved in together. Their representatives claimed the split was mutual and amicable...but later details revealed some of the true extent of the situation.
In the summer of 2022, de Armas finally revealed some of her mindset. More than a year after the split, she looked back on this time in her life and called the media attention surrounding her relationship "horrible," admitting that it made her intensely anxious.
Affleck, meanwhile, has stayed completely tight-lipped...but he did manage to get caught doing something very undignified.
Breaking up is hard to do, but you know what's harder? Watching yourself getting crammed into a dumpster. Following the couple's breakup, paparazzi snapped workers on Ben's property tossing that famous life-sized cut-out of de Armas into Affleck’s garbage bin. I guess it had to go sometime. Nonetheless, de Armas's next move was drastic.
Following her split from Affleck, de Armas came to a gut-wrenching realization. It wasn't just her fish-bowl relationship that made her unhappy, it was Los Angeles itself. Determined to right things, de Armas escaped the West Coast and moved to New York City. As it turned out, de Armas’s instincts to make the move to New York would serve her well.
Shortly after arriving in New York, de Armas fell for handsome Tinder executive Paul Boukadakis. And clearly, as with Affleck, she moves fast: By the summer of 2022, she and Boukadakis shared an apartment together in New York City, and as of this article’s release, the couple are still happily together.
But more controversy was on de Armas's horizon—this time professionally.
De Armas' most hotly anticipated upcoming role will be her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. But most fans have the role all wrong. Rather than a straight-up biopic, the film is based on a novel about the sultry pop culture icon by Joyce Carol Oates. And it's the fictional quality of the work that could get de Armas into hot water.
Blonde's director Andrew Dominik doesn't shy away from controversy, and he has infamously claimed that the film will "offend everyone" whether you're a Marilyn Monroe fan or not. And there are indeed several imaginings of Monroe's life, including intimate assaults, that will rattle people. But behind the scenes, de Armas went through ordeals too.
Publicity stills and trailers show de Armas as a picture-perfect double for the sultry 50s actress, and she’s also the first Latina actress to play Marilyn. Yet this is exactly where fans attacked her. When watching the trailers, some clocked de Armas's Cuban accent and decried the loss of Monroe's American tones. And that wasn't all.
Becoming Marilyn Monroe was no easy feat. Although de Armas is a natural brunette, that obviously wasn't right for playing the blonde bombshell, and makeup crews had to have her don a series of high-quality wigs while filming. On top of that, they had to use tight, often painful bald caps to make sure none of de Armas's hair showed underneath.
Despite the huge task de Armas had ahead of her in portraying one of the definitive film stars of Old Hollywood, she had a lot of support behind her. Indeed, director Andrew Dominik actually hand-picked her for the part—and he did it before her star-making turn in Knives Out had even hit theaters. Still, this meant she really prepared for her audition.
According to de Armas, when she went to do her screen-test for Blonde for the Netflix panel, she had a desperate request. Knowing she had to prove she could play Marilyn to a tee even with an accent, she brought her accent coach to the appointment and had them crouch under a table to encourage her. Whatever works, right?
Upon seeing herself as Monroe for the first time, de Armas said, “I cried. It was a big, big deal for me. It was a very important role for me, a big challenge, something that I was preparing for a very long time—and to finally sit in the chair and put the wig and makeup on…it was very special. I completely transformed".
At first, de Armas wasn’t excited about the idea of playing the stereotypical role of an immigrant caretaker in Knives Out. But she recognized the importance of the film as a major studio project starring her character, Marta, as the ethical Latina immigrant who remains true and triumphs over racism. In de Armas’ portrayal, moviegoers found an everyday hero for the masses.
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