Ana de Armas: the meteoric rise of the No Time To Die star

With No Time To Die, James Bond’s 25th espionage escapade, arriving on the 12th of November, it really is no time to forget about Ana de Armas. The Cuban actor is currently one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents – over the last five years, she has turned in a string of fine performances and collaborated with an impressive array of high-profile names, from Denis Villeneuve to Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig.

No Time To Die will mark her second collaboration with Craig (in what will be his last outing as 007) and forms part of director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s formidable ensemble cast, boasting the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Lashana Lynch, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz and Rami Malek, playing the film’s villain Safin. De Armas plays Paloma, a CIA agent tasked with assisting Bond in his dealings with Malek’s enigmatic antagonist.

Beyond a brief character outline, however, details about Paloma have been vague, and any specifics pertaining to her relationship to 007 remain little more than speculation. But Fukunaga and de Armas have suggested in interviews that Paloma’s role both subverts expectations and extends far beyond that of a classic femme fatale figure. With No Time To Die being the first Bond movie to arrive in the post-Me Too era, and with Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge having been drafted in to punch up the script, that hardly seems surprising.

But while Paloma’s place in No Time To Die remains largely unknown, a series of memorable performances have meant that the actor that plays her is anything but. Here we chart the spectacular rise of Ana de Armas…

Ana de Armas as Paloma in No Time To Die

Early Spanish-language roles

Growing up in Havana, de Armas attended the National Theater School of Cuba from the age of 14, graduating four years later. Half-way through her tenure, aged just 16, she landed her first screen role in Spanish filmmaker Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón's 2006 film Virgin Rose, a politically-charged, bittersweet fairy tale set against the backdrop of 1950s-style Cuba.

Upon graduating, de Armas ventured across the Atlantic to Spain where her stock continued to rise, appearing in several Spanish-language films and television series, including a main role across six seasons of hit drama-thriller El Internado. Her debut in an English language film didn’t come until 2015, where she landed a role alongside Keanu Reeves in Eli Roth's cat and mouse home invasion thriller Knock Knock.

Appearances in several noteworthy movies followed, including a second collaboration with Reeves in 2016's Exposed, and supporting roles in both Hands of Stone, Jonathan Jakubowicz’s biopic about Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, and Joker director Todd Phillips’s crime comedy War Dogs, which also features Miles Teller and Jonah Hill. But for de Armas, the best was still to come.

Rise to stardom with Blade Runner 2049 and Knives Out

De Armas got her breakout role in Denis Villeneuve's big-budget, modern sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner 2049. The film is the sequel to Ridley Scott's seminal cult classic from 1982, and de Armas plays Joi, a holographic AI projection occupying the space between a maid, a companion and a lover to Ryan Gosling's replicant blade runner K. Her performance is a striking, affecting one, with her character proving pivotal in the film's deep ruminations on issues of identity, sentience and existentialism.

2019 was an equally auspicious year for de Armas, marked by projects both close to home, in the form of Miami-set Cuban spy thriller Wasp Network, and further afield, courtesy of British crime drama The Informer. She also cameoed in Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis’ Beatles-themed romcom Yesterday, although her scene was ultimately deleted. But, undoubtedly de Armas’s most memorable performance of the year came as Marta Cabrera, the unassuming nurse at the centre of Rian Johnson’s stylish, playful whodunnit Knives Out.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, de Armas was candid about initially turning down the chance to audition for the role, explaining that it was only when she finally read Johnson's razor-sharp script that she understood the intriguing complexity of her character. In the end, despite the whip-smart, Oscar-nominated screenplay and the presence of Daniel Craig’s debonair detective Benoit Blanc, de Armas quietly steals the show, standing out amid an impressive ensemble of wonderfully detestable characters (most notably Chris Evans’s spoilt playboy Ransom). So impressive was de Armas’s performance that it earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the 77th annual Golden Globes.

Future roles

A recent announcement from Lionsgate confirms a Knives Out sequel is in the works, but whether Marta will return, along with her iconic “My House. My Rules. My Coffee” mug, remains a mystery. Aside from Bond, this year will also see de Armas feature in the Netflix film Sergio. She also stars alongside Ben Affleck in an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller Deep Water, helmed by Fatal Attraction director Adrian Lyne.

But perhaps most enticing of all is de Armas’s involvement in Blonde, the latest from filmmaker Andrew Dominik, where she will play legendary American singer, actress and model Marilyn Monroe in a fictionalised account of the Hollywood icon’s life. It’s yet to be given a specific date, but the movie has been slated for release sometime in 2020. Consider us very intrigued, indeed.

No Time To Die is released on the 12th of November, so tweet us @Cineworld if you think this could be Ana de Armas' best performance so far.

George Nash is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.