Sometimes life does imitate art.
“I assumed — and I say this with real embarrassment — because she had come from Cuba, that she had just arrived,” Curtis explained. “I made an assumption that she was an inexperienced, unsophisticated young woman. That first day, I was like, ‘Oh, what are your dreams?'”
At the time Curtis met de Armas while working on 2019’s “Knives Out,” de Armas had already appeared in “Blade Runner 2049” and “War Dogs” stateside. She had also been working for over a decade in Cuban and Spanish productions, starting in 2006.
Curtis added that she was so impressed with de Armas’ performance that she offered to introduce her to Steven Spielberg so de Armas could play Maria in the “West Side Story” reimagining or introduce de Armas to Curtis’ godchildren Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal. De Armas already knew Jake and had plenty of A-lister connections already, including a friendship with former “Knock Knock” co-star Keanu Reeves. De Armas is now set to star in Reeves’ “John Wick” spin-off, “Ballerina,” penned by Oscar winner Emerald Fennell.
Curtis continued about de Armas, “She is not as fancy as maybe the advertisements would have you believe. She leans in, interested; talking to her is kind of give-and-take. She’s curious and asks a lot of questions.”
Since co-starring in “Knives Out,” Curtis and de Armas have stayed in contact, with de Armas even giving Curtis a sneak peek at her transformation into Marilyn Monroe for Andrew Dominik’s upcoming “Blonde.” De Armas trained for nine months with a dialect coach to perfect Monroe’s signature voice, and Curtis, whose father Tony Curtis starred opposite Monroe in “Some Like It Hot,” called de Armas’ portrayal of the late blonde bombshell truly staggering.
“I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it,” Curtis reflected earlier this year. “Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.”
And de Armas’ casting as Monroe continues to break barriers onscreen while thwarting audience assumptions of what de Armas is capable of. As de Armas explained to Elle, she doesn’t want to merely play characters defined by their ethnicity.
“I do want to play Latina,” de Armas clarified. “But I don’t want to put a basket of fruit on my head every single time.”
She added, “So that’s my hope, that I can show that we can do anything if we’re given the time to prepare, and if we’re given just the chance, just the chance. You can do any film — ‘Blonde’ — you can do anything. The problem is that sometimes you don’t even get to the room with the director to sit down and prove yourself.”