Cuban actress Ana de Armas has already worked on a handful of Hollywood movies, but her role as Joi in Blade Runner 2049 with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford is easily her biggest yet. The 29-year-old has been acting since she was 16 years old and has lived in Hollywood since 2014.
In Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s beloved 1982 sci-fi classic, de Armas plays Joi, a holographic companion for K (Gosling). The role comes after appearances in Knock Knock, Exposed and War Dogs.
Here’s what you need to know about de Armas.
1. De Armas Decided to Become an Actress at Age 12 & Made Her Debut at 16
Ana Celia de Armas Caso is only 29 years old, but she’s been acting for over a decade already. In an interview with Ideal.es, de Armas said she decided to become an actress as age 12. The actress, who was born in Santa Cruz del Notre and raised in Havana, attended clases at the National Theater School of Cuba.
De Armas made her acting debut in the 2006 film Una rosa de Francia (Virgin Rose). The following year, she got a lead role on El internado (The Boarding School), a Spanish TV series that ran from 2007 to 2010.
She told the Havana Times that the TV show was responsible for helping her international career.
“Yes, joining the cast of El Internado was the most important thing that happened to me just after arriving in Spain,” de Armas explained. “It was a surprise and a great thrill to know that they were taking a chance on me for that series, which at the beginning no one knew if it would work out or if people would like it. But in any case it was an unforgettable opportunity. Luckily everybody liked it, and they liked it a lot. It was one of the most-watched series in Spain for four years, and of course a number of doors opened up for me thanks to it.”
2. De Armas Was Married to Spanish Actor Marc Clotet for 2 Years
In February 2016, de Armas posted a photo showing her kissing Latt. “My valentine is here,” she wrote.
There were rumors that she was dating Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood, since they both starred in the 2017 French-made film Overdrive. However, a friend told Hola that this was not true. “She has been in love for a long time with someone else,” the friend said.
3. When de Armas Was Cast in Her First Hollywood Movie, She Didn’t Know a Word of English
Although her first English-language movie was Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves, the role that brought her to Hollywood was Felicidad Duran in the boxing movie Hands of Stone.
In an interview with W Magazine, de Armas said she decided to move to Los Angeles for the challenge. And it was a big one since she still hadn’t learned English when she got the <i.Hands of Stone role.
“I had to go to class, and so for the first three or four months, I couldn’t do anything,” she told W Magazine. “It was good exercise for my ego after eight years in Spain having a great career. When you move to the States, whatever you’ve done before doesn’t count. It was kind of refreshing, to be honest. When you do a TV show, your life really changes and everyone knows you everywhere you go. Coming here and being in a classroom where everyone is learning to use past tense was great. I was there with my notebooks just taking notes and doing my homework.”
De Armas told the magazine that she stressed with her team that she did not want to play stereotypical Latina roles.
“I consider myself an actress. It’s weird when people say, ‘You’re a Cuban actress’ or ‘You’re a Spanish actress,'” de Armas told W. “They put a thing in front of what you are, but I’m like, ‘I’m an actress.’ I’ll see what I can do, but don’t put me in a place that you don’t know yet. Don’t put a label on my work before you see it. I just wanted a chance. I wanted to know that I was chasing the same goals as all the other actresses that I love and admire. Everyone deserves the opportunity to fight for the part they want.”
4. When Auditioning for ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ de Armas Had no Script or Any Information About the Role She Would Play
Director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) wanted to make sure that nothing about the film would be leaked out during production. In fact, de Armas told the Independent that she had no idea what her role would be. She was just desperate to be a part of Blade Runner 2049.
“It was intimidating and exciting at the same time,” she told the Independent of making the movie. “When I auditioned, I didn’t know about the script, story, or character. There was no information about anything. I just knew I wanted to be part of this and I’ve always wanted to work with Denis [Villeneuve], Ryan [Gosling], Jared [Leto], and Harrison [Ford].”
In that same interview, de Armas said she has a great group of friends and family who help her stay grounded. She also said she aspires to be like Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Penelope Cruz.
“I definitely want to keep acting, that’s for sure,” de Armas said when asked about what she wants to do in the future. “At some point I would like to start creating my own things. If people don’t write the scripts I like then I will do my own. I feel like I’m still at the beginning of my career even though I started at 14 and I’ve really done a lot.”
5. She’s Already Made 2 Movies With Keanu Reeves
De Armas has already worked twice with Keanu Reeves. In 2015, they worked together on Knock Knock, a horror movie directed and produced by Eli Roth. They worked together again on Exposed, a 2016 thriller originally titled Daughter of God.
Unfortunately, neither of these movies earned big audiences. Exposed was dumped through video on demand and Knock Knock grossed just $36,336 in a limited theatrical release. At least Knock Knock resulted in some fun Instagram pictures.
“It was my first film in English,” de Armas told Hello Magazine about working on Knock Knock. “I had to work really hard on it, and Keanu adapted so well, he was so patient with me. He is a very humble person – the sort of person that you meet and want to stay friends with forever.”
De Armas’ next film is Three Seconds, a crime movie starring Rosamund Pike and Joel Kinnaman. It is being directed by Escobar: Paradise Lost helmer Andrea Di Stefano.