Ana de Armas on ‘Knives Out,’ Growing Up in Cuba, and Playing Marilyn Monroe

Ana de Armas at the 2019 TIFF premiere of "Knives Out"
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Ana de Armas, the star of Knives Out—and the next Bond girl—talks growing up in Cuba, her lightbulb career moment, and your chances of sliding into her DMs.

But first, the basics:

Age: 31

Hometown: Havana

Upcoming Projects

  1. No Time to Die
  2. Blonde
  3. Sergio
  4. Wasp Network

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Knives Out [November 27] is a whodunit. Do you like mysteries?

Yeah, murder mysteries are the kind of movies that make the audience participate. I like trying to figure it out before the mystery is solved—it’s very engaging and fun to watch.

It reminds me of Clue.

The board game, yeah.

There was also a movie version. But growing up in Cuba in the ’80s and ’90s, did you not have access to American movies?

I would say 50 or 60 percent of the movies that we watched on TV were American. I remember looking up to Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks because they had all these movies on TV.

What was your childhood in Havana like?

I grew up in nature, at the beach, and playing on the streets with friends. I felt very free. Just going wild out there and coming back home to have dinner and watch cartoons. Falling and having my knees all bleeding all the time. It was a normal childhood.

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It sounds like maybe you were a tomboy?

Not at all. But it was a very human-contact-based childhood. I never had PlayStation or even a DVD player. So all I could do was to go out there and play with the other kids. In that sense, it was more about having other people around instead of being home on your TV or phone or anything like that.

I know it wasn’t by choice, but that sounds sort of idyllic now.

I go to Cuba whenever I can to visit my parents and friends, and one of the things I enjoy the most is that I can forget about my phone. I don’t have internet. I can’t check my emails. It feels refreshing to talk to people and go to the beach and listen to music and really be present.

When did you get into acting?

When I was 13, I decided that I wanted to be an actress. That was my dream, and my parents supported me. I studied at the National Theater School of Cuba for four years.

I grew up in nature, at the beach, and playing on the streets with friends. I felt very free.

That’s so young. How did you know it was the right path for you?

I don’t know how that works in your brain or your heart, but you just know. I guess also because of the way I grew up, it was all on the streets coming up with games. I had to use my imagination a lot to get entertained. I’d remember a movie and then run back to my room to repeat the lines to the mirror. I found out later on that my games were acting.

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Your English is perfect. Did you learn it as a kid in Cuba?

Only here and there, very basic words from school in Cuba. I didn’t learn real English until I moved to L.A. about five years ago, when I was 26.

That’s recently! How did you learn?

I went to English school full-time for the first three or four months when I got here. I really wanted to learn grammar so I could write correctly and understand what I was saying. But I make so many mistakes.

Like what?

Oh, my God—so many things, like in auditions, people asked me questions and I had no idea what they meant. Language is the most important thing about any culture, so to learn that takes years and years.

On your social media, you’ve posted often about Marilyn Monroe. Is it because you relate to her in some way?

Right now I’m playing Marilyn [for the Netflix biopic Blonde]. To prepare, I spent the last year studying and trying to collect all the information I could about her. She’s very present in my life right now.

As with Monroe, men are kind of obsessed with you. You have 1.5 million followers on Instagram. Do you ever check your DMs?

No. Never. I don’t even know where that thing is.

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