When Cary Joji Fukunaga offered Ana de Armas a part in the James Bond film “No Time to Die” she was, naturally, excited. But she was also hesitant.
“I loved working with Daniel Craig on ‘Knives Out’ and I wanted to work with Cary and even a tiny part in a James Bond film will make you known globally,” says the Cuban-born actress. “All of those were magnets to me.”
But the part had not been written yet and de Armas didn’t want to play just the latest in a long line of sexy Bond girls. “Times have changes and the women in Bond films need to be different,” she says.
Sure, she has taken roles she didn’t want as a stepping stone in the past. “You do the best you can with the part you have,” she says, but she’d reached a point where her resume and confidence allowed her to be pickier and more protective. “At the end of the day it’s so much work and if it’s not something you really want to do you’ll be miserable. So I told Cary I would not just say yes because this is Bond and I kind of pressured him to write something to show me.”
Ultimately, the character of Paloma, “a bubbly, beautiful unexpected thing,” was strong and self-sufficient, a peer to Bond in both charisma and gunplay — someone de Armas, and audiences, found irresistible. (“She’s also Cuban, which is probably one of my strengths,” de Armas says with a laugh.)
Now that she had a part she liked, de Armas began to feel “really, really nervous.” Sure, she’d worked with Craig, “so I was ahead of all the uncomfortable moments of getting to know each other” and she had been in a blockbuster like “Blade Runner 2049” but she knew that “James Bond is another level. I knew that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” de Armas says, adding with a laugh that she was glad to have a limited amount of screen time. “It felt like a good amount for me to step into this world.”
De Armas knew that Craig was a generous actor and that they had good chemistry, so the biggest challenge was pulling off the action sequences … and she definitely felt underprepared. “I kept telling Cary, ‘I just have three weeks of training’ and I said it so many times he said, ‘Say that in the movie,’” de Armas says. It became one of Paloma’s memorable lines, especially as she proved that three weeks was more than enough for her to hold her own.
The problem for de Armas was that after her three weeks of training the production schedule shifted, and suddenly before “No Time” she spent four months as Marilyn Monroe in the forthcoming “Blonde.”
“That wrapped on a Friday and I was shooting Bond the next Monday,” she says. “I don’t think anyone would choose two days, spending half in an airplane, as time off between films, but sometimes good things happen.”
De Armas brought some of Marilyn with her to Paloma. “There was something magical about that, although on the first day, Cary kept saying, ‘You’re whispering,’ ” and she ended up enjoying all the fight sequences.
“Action movies are definitely not my comfort zone but it was very satisfying to do something new, something that might surprise you,” she says. She’s open to more action movies — “as long as I can do the kicks and punches” — but says in the long run she prefers roles that are deeper character studies. “I’m closer to ‘Blonde’ than Bond.”