Life must feel pretty bloody marvellous right now for actress Ana de Armas. She’s the latest Bond girl, a CIA rookie called Paloma, who shoots, kick-boxes and karate chops — all in stilettos and a dangerously low-cut dress — and rather puts the wind up craggy old 007 in No Time To Die.
Her biggest fans include Jamie Lee Curtis, Steven Spielberg and Daniel Craig; she spent lockdown very publicly snogging her then boyfriend Ben Affleck; was nominated for a Golden Globe last year in her breakthrough role in Knives Out; is about to appear as Marilyn Monroe in a Netflix biopic; and has movie offers coming out of her ears.
She’s also exquisitely beautiful, with a body to die for, has a refreshingly relaxed attitude to nudity, loves a drink and a late night party. To top it off, she’s an ambassador for all sorts of worthy brands including Natural Diamonds.
All of which would make most of us feel pretty perky, but Ana, 33, must be pinching herself. Because her life started a very long way from red carpets, Bond premieres and Hollywood — in communist Cuba.
Life must feel pretty bloody marvellous right now for actress Ana de Armas (pictured)
The family home in Santa Cruz del Norte was a stark, breeze-block apartment in a tatty back street, awash with rubble and stray dogs. Her bedroom was a stark pink-painted concrete box and she and her brother had no television, nor access to the internet, newspapers or magazines.
So Ana and her friends entertained each other by acting, dancing and singing until, by the age of 12, she knew her future lay as an actress. At 14, her parents allowed her to enrol her at Escuela Nacional de Teatro, Cuba’s only national theatre school to which she made the daily 70-mile round trip alone. ‘I would hitchhike every single morning… and tell people where I needed to go,’ she said in a recent interview.
She was talented and made her debut in the hit Cuba-set 2006 movie Una rosa de Francia. But more importantly, thanks to her Spanish grandparents, she had joint nationality. So the minute she was 18 and eligible for national service she fled Cuba, alone again and with just $300.
Within weeks of arriving in Madrid, she’d picked up a part in El Internado, a hit TV series about a boarding school that ran for seven series and, soon after, a dishy Spanish husband — actor and model Marc Clotet.
She’s the latest Bond girl, a CIA rookie called Paloma, who shoots, kick-boxes and karate chops — all in stilettos and a dangerously low-cut dress — and rather puts the wind up craggy old 007 in No Time To Die
Sadly, within a few years, she’d outgrown them both and, propelled by talent, ambition and a inner belief, set her sights on Hollywood. As she put it: ‘I’ve never seen my life in two ways, the way I wanted it and Plan B. There was only ever the way I wanted it.’
But she barely spoke English. In the early days in California, she could hardly communicate with her agent, let alone shine in auditions. In one session, the casting director wrapped up with: ‘Well, we’ll talk again in a couple of years.’ But feisty Ana replied: ‘No, we’ll talk in two months and promptly enrolled herself in a seven-hours-a- day, two-month intensive English course.
And her talent shone through. Even when the film wasn’t the best, reviewers eulogised about her ‘hugely charismatic presence’, her ‘warmth’ and how joyous and bewitching she was. After a brief engagement to Hollywood agent Franklin Latt, she and Affleck got together in 2020 while filming ‘erotic thriller’ Deep Water and seemed to be forever kissing, both on set and off.
Her career went from strength to strength, with her real breakthrough in Knives Out, a 2019 film in which she co-starred with Daniel Craig, Chris Evans and Jamie Lee Curtis. But Ana stole the show. Curtis compared her to Sophia Loren and was so impressed she pinged a series of emails about her to Spielberg, who already knew of her.
She’s also exquisitely beautiful, with a body to die for, has a refreshingly relaxed attitude to nudity, loves a drink and a late night party
Craig himself had requested Ana as his final 007 co-star. But Bond director Cary Joji Fukunaga had also long been a fan and, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, wrote the part specifically for her.
Sadly, Ana’s love life has never been as consistent as her career and, early this year, she and Affleck split. She is reportedly now dating Tinder executive Paul Boukadakis, and working harder than ever.
Next year, she’s back as Marilyn In Blonde. The accent took her nearly a year to master but, of course, she did it. After that, she’ll surely have her pick of movie scripts.
Perhaps one will be about a beautiful, talented, ambitious girl who flees Cuba with dreams of conquering Hollywood…
All of which would make most of us feel pretty perky, but Ana, 33, must be pinching herself. Because her life started a very long way from red carpets, Bond premieres and Hollywood — in communist Cuba. Pictured: Ana’s childhood home in Havana, Cuba
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