From her quiet beginnings in Cuba to playing both a Bond girl and the iconic Marilyn Monroe, here is a look at her incredible journey so far.
Growing Up in Cuba
Ana Celie de Armas Caso was born in Havana, Cuba on April 30, 1988. She spent most of her childhood in Santa Cruz del Norte. Ana often reminisces about growing up in Cuba. She grew up close to nature, especially the ocean.
A young Ana had several cuts and scrapes from playing in the streets with her friends all day. She enjoyed a simple, rough-and-tumble childhood where she felt free.
Life in Grim Political Climates
Ana’s wistful childhood memories misrepresent the stark political climate of Cuba when she was growing up. At the time, Cuba was in the middle of the infamous “Special Period in a Time of Peace.” An economic period when the Cuban government introduced strict food and energy rationing to the public.
But Ana never felt that sharing food or wearing hand-me-downs was out of the ordinary. She credits her childhood and Cuba with giving her a grounded outlook that continues to serve her to this day.
Ana's Love for Television Began Early on
Things in Cuba were far from peachy. Ana grew up without cell phones, computers, or the internet. Even her entertainment options were limited to television only — but TV was all she needed.
A young Ana loved nothing more than plonking in front of the TV after homework and finishing her chores. She spent hours watching TV, swept away by the power of movies. She later told W magazine that she would think of her favorite scenes and re-enact them in front of the mirror. The entire process was very emotional for her.
Small Girl, Big Dreams
Ana’s knowledge of popular culture beyond Cuba was limited. She would pop over to the neighbors’ apartments to watch Hollywood movies. Soon, Ana had every monologue and speech down pat.
When she turned 12, Ana decided she wanted to become an actress. In 2002, she successfully auditioned for a professional actors' training program at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana. A 14-year-old Ana traveled all the way to Havana to attend the rigorous course, sometimes hitchhiking her way there.
She Risks Everything for an Acting Career
Ana took a big risk just a few months before submitting her final thesis. She left the school. That said, she had compelling reasons for upping and leaving. In Cuba, you first have to complete three years of mandatory service to the community after graduating.
Ana decided it would be detrimental to her career. She was determined to make it as an actor. Far from impulsive, leaving the program was a carefully calculated move.
Early TV Roles in Cuba
As a teenager, Ana landed a starring role in the romantic drama “Una rosa de Francia” (2006) opposite Álex González. The story goes that Ana got the part thanks to actor Jorge Perugorría, who first met her with his daughters at a birthday party. She made quite an impression, enough to earn the actor’s recommendation for a role. The director reportedly visited Ana’s school to tell her she had got the part.
Ana traveled to Spain to promote the film. During this period, she met Juan Lanja, who would eventually become her Spanish agent.
She Moves to Spain
The aspiring actor soon realized that the Cuban film industry was too small for the showbiz career she aspired to. The only solution was to move to Spain. She and her parents had already spoken about her relocation long before she had turned 18. But it was still a difficult decision for Ana.
At age 18, she obtained Spanish citizenship through her grandparents and moved to Madrid. Ana did not have much of a plan besides wanting to pursue an acting career. She did not know how or when yet.
A Difficult Start in Spain
Ana took a massive risk moving to Spain. She only knew her agent and some friends across the Atlantic and had 200 euros when she landed in Spain. If nothing worked out, she would return when the money ran out.
The money ran out in a week. Still, Ana remained in Madrid — staying with friends of friends — and persevered. The move to Spain was exciting, but she missed her family terribly.
Her Big Break on Spanish TV
Shortly after moving to Madrid, she landed a role on "El Internado," also known as "The Boarding School" in English. The popular series ran for six seasons with Ana as its breakout star. She soon became a household name in Spain for portraying Carolina – a student at a fancy boarding school. "El Internado" was one of the most-watched shows in Spain, and Ana’s splendid performance opened up several doors for her.
Despite the show’s success, she requested the producers to write her character off in its penultimate season. She feared typecasting and wanted to broaden her horizons beyond teenage roles.
Other Acting Roles and a Career Lull
Ana moved to New York City after “El Internado,”, where she spent several months learning English. Following a brief stint in the Big Apple, she returned to Spain for a seventeen-episode appearance on “Hispania” (2010-2011). Ana then dipped her toes in the horror genre with Antonio Trashorras's films: “El callejón” (2011) and “Anabel” (2015). She also appeared in the drama “Por un puñado de besos” (2014).
A lull in her acting career followed soon after. Although she participated in theater workshops during this period, Ana was nervous that her career wasn't heading anywhere.
She Marries Marc Clotet
In 2011, just as her movie career was taking off, she married actor Marc Clotet. The news about the wedding surprised many observers and fans. The couple had never spoken about their relationship publicly until then.
For her part, Ana ensured she stayed away from mentions in the press – unless it was about her work. This changed when a publication reported that the couple had exchanged rings in a small ceremony in Spain’s Costa Brava region. Soon after, they began appearing in several red-carpet events together, including the premiere of “Skyfall.”
A Marriage Short-Lived
Ana and Marc kept the details of their marriage private for the most part. The marital bliss was short-lived, however. Friends said the couple argued a lot, and whispers about a split began circulating. After two years of marriage, Ana and Marc called it quits. Somehow, the press never got wind of the divorce.
During the 2013 Goya Awards, Marc finally revealed that he and Ana had split up but remained friends. He clarified that the divorce was a mutual agreement and there was no bad blood between them.
She Reunites With a Former Co-Star
In 2014, Ana starred in a romantic comedy titled "Por un Puñado de Besos" or "For a Handful of Kisses." She appeared opposite her "El Internado" co-star, Martiño Rivas. The actors shared an excellent bond, and their on-screen chemistry was palpable.
The ease and comfort they shared negated the need for numerous rehearsals. The film follows the story of a couple that is HIV positive. Ana said she was thrilled and inspired to be working with Rivas again. She said he was her rock during intense and complicated scenes.
Ana Means Business
The actor decided to kick things into full gear by 2014. First, she hired a Hollywood agent who persuaded her to move to Los Angeles. Life in LA was challenging, however. Ana spoke very little English and received only Latina roles from most places.
Speaking of auditions, each one was in English, and she often had no clue what she was saying. Ana promptly enrolled in full-time English classes for several months to better her career prospects.
Ana Works With Keanu Reeves
Ana began landing role after role in LA, but she was still learning her lines phonetically. In 2015, she landed her first Hollywood release with Eli Roth’s “Knock Knock,” where she starred opposite Keanu Reeves. Despite Ana’s language challenges, the film received positive reviews.
Some critics found Ana’s performance unconvincing, her language probably had something to do with that. But apart from a few harsh criticisms, everyone (especially Keanu) thought she cinched the role.
Daughter of God
After filming wrapped, Keanu invited Ana to star in “Daughter of God” – a film he was acting in and producing. She was brought in to play the part of Isabel de la Cruz, which was a Spanish-speaking part. “Daugther Of God” was supposed to be her big ticket to Hollywood but things rapidly fell apart during post-production.
Sadly, her starring role diminished after editing due to constant meddling by executives. Working with Keanu was a dream, however. She said he made everything much easier for her on set.
Her Relationship With Franklin Latt
Ana and talent agent Franklin Latt never made public appearances together. But that didn’t stop the world from speculating and Insta-stalking. In 2015, Ana finally indulged in some social media PDA on Franklin’s birthday.
In August, Ana published a sweet photo of Franklin and gushed about him in the caption. She called him her best friend and boyfriend and the best human being. Though they seemed happy, the pair called it off soon after. The actor has since deleted the pictures from her Instagram.
Her Breakthrough Moment
Ana bagged a supporting role as the wife of an arms dealer in “Ward Dogs” (2016), where she appeared opposite Miles Teller. The film became her breakthrough moment in Hollywood. “War Dogs” was a commercial success and earned her instant recognition.
Although the role did not offer much substance, everyone noticed Ana's stellar performance. Critics called her acting “memorable” — a feat she achieved despite having to learn her lines phonetically yet again.
Ana in "Hands of Stone"
When Ana was still living in Madrid, she received a call from director Jonathan Jakubowicz. He had seen her in “El Internado” and wanted her to audition for a Spanish-language part in his upcoming film.
Ana traveled to LA for the auditions, and the rest is history. In 2016, Ana portrayed the wife of Panamanian boxer, Roberto Duran in the biopic “Hands of Stone” – her first Hollywood film. Ana’s character wasn’t meaty enough, but her charisma shone regardless – garnering appreciation from all quarters.
Rumors About Her Dating Life
In 2016, Ana and co-star Edgar Ramirez were photographed kissing at the Cannes Festival. The two insisted they were just friends, which was the last the world heard of that. The following year, rumors about Ana dating Alejandro Piñeiro Bello started making the rounds.
The Cuban artist regularly popped up on Ana’s Instagram page. She never made a public statement or mentioned the relationship in the press. But the ton of cutesy pictures together on social was enough confirmation for fans. They reportedly split in 2019.
She Is Unforgettable in "Blade Runner 2049"
2017 would be Ana’s biggest year yet with the release of "Blade Runner 2049" — Denis Villeneuve's highly anticipated sequel to "Blade Runner." People immediately took note of Ana as Joi, an AI-powered hologram with pink skin and blue hair. But she was also memorable for holding her own brilliantly in a film with legends such as Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.
"Blade Runner 2049” was Ana’s ultimate Hollywood moment and put her on the map. Critics praised her performance, pegging her as an actor to watch in Hollywood.
Ana’s role as Joi captivated the audience's hearts and imaginations. Sadly, neither her performance nor the film’s rave reviews translated into commercial success. “Blade Runner 2049” wasn’t a box office hit – far from it. Ana decided to return to Cuba the following year, where she bought a house.
She made sporadic appearances in a few films during this period. In 2017, she played a supporting role in the action thriller “Overdrive.” She nailed the performance, even though it was a sidekick role.
Hits and Misses
In 2018, Ana starred in the medical drama “Corazón” opposite Demián Bichir. Funded by the Montefiore Medical Center and directed by John Hillcoat, the film aimed to raise public awareness of organ donation. Ana also appeared opposite Himesh Patel in the romantic comedy “Yesterday” (2019), but eventually, they cut her scenes out of the film.
Director Danny Boyle said it had nothing to do with her performance. It seemed that the love triangle subplot of which Ana was a part did not resonate well with test audiences.
Acclaim for "Knives Out"
With the release of the murder mystery “Knives Out” in 2019, Ana proved that she had arrived in Hollywood. She played the role of housekeeper Marta Cabrera whose wealthy employers have many secrets. Ana almost passed up the opportunity when she first read the character description – “a pretty Latina caretaker.”
It sounded uninspiring and disrespectful of Latin culture. After reading the screenplay, she realized Marta’s role was more than that. Her character was the key to the entire story.
She Wins Accolades Galore for "Knives Out"
“Knives Out” was an outstanding commercial and critical success. Ana’s striking performance earned her tremendous critical acclaim in the industry. She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
In an interview, she shared that she celebrated by popping champagne and calling her parents with the news first thing. Ana also won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Cast with the cast.
Many Roles, None Worthy of Ana's Talents
In 2020, Ana starred in several films back-to-back – most of them failing to make a mark. She landed a supporting role in the thriller “The Informer” opposite Joel Kinnaman. After the success of “Knives Out,” the role did not seem to do her talents justice. That same year, she also played the role of a femme fatale in “The Night Clerk.”
Many critics pointed out that Ana was too good for these films. She was bigger than the films and their seeming lack of vision.
More Film Roles and a Homecoming
Ana appeared as Carolina Larrier in the Netflix biopic “Sergio” (2020) opposite Sérgio Vieira de Mello. The biopic was received well, with Ana’s acting taking center stage. Variety wrote that her intelligent and compelling acting made her character more than just another love interest.
Ana’s next role was in Netflix’s “Wasp Network” as the wife of one of five Cuban intelligence officers arrested in 1998 and later convicted for several crimes in the United States. Filming took place in Ana’s home country, Cuba, making the experience even more special for her. It was her first time working in Cuba since leaving home at 18.
Her Romance With Ben Affleck
By early 2020, rumors about Ana dating Ben Affleck began to swirl in the industry. The actors had reportedly met and hit it off on the sets of “Deep Water.” And thus, began a strange new chapter, where the normally-reclusive Ana began featuring in tabloids – something she disliked intensely.
Pictures of Ana and Ben vacationing together made the news. The couple went Instagram official in April 2020 when Ana posted pictures of them together on her birthday.
So Much for Happy Endings
Ana and Ben’s love story did not have a happy ending. The couple went their separate ways in January 2021, just under a year after they began dating. Speculations made the rounds about the reasons for the split.
Some publications wrote that Ben allegedly did not want more children since he already had kids with his first wife, Jennifer Garner. Ana wanted to be a mother. Fans and the press hoped the couple would reconcile, but the relationship was beyond any attempts at saving.
On the Press Attention While Dating Ben Affleck
Others speculated that she was uncomfortable continuing the relationship because of the paparazzi. The actor told Variety that she had never sought attention for anything other than her work.
When the focus shifted to other things in her life, it felt disrespectful, inappropriate, and dangerous. She didn't know of any other way to find safety and protection other than leaving.
She Starts Afresh
Ana kept a low profile after the breakup. The constant press scrutiny during the relationship had taken an emotional toll on the star. She moved away from Los Angeles to escape the public interest in her private life. The actor later shared that going through the breakup confirmed that LA wasn’t the place she wanted to be.
She wanted a fresh start. The next chapter of her life would be in New York – the city that became pivotal to her transformation.
Ana De Armas the Bond Girl
Director Cary Joi Fukunaga was making the next Bond film. When he wrote the character of a CIA agent from Cuba, he had Ana de Armas in mind. Ana was intrigued by the role of Paloma – an effervescent woman who is as reckless as she is skilled. In 2021, “No Time to Die” was released worldwide.
Ana’s short appearance opposite the sensational Daniel Craig earned her positive reviews. A critical and commercial success, the film grossed $774.2 million worldwide. Ana joined the ranks of iconic Bond girls such as Ursula Andress, Halle Berry, Sophie Marceau, and Eva Green.
On Being a Bond Girl
The Bond franchise opened up a new world of action films for Ana. While the prospect was exciting, she admitted during an interview with Elle that she was apprehensive about it too. The thought of the role transforming her career made her nervous. She had never imagined becoming an actor in action films.
It was not her comfort zone. Throughout her career, Ana had been careful to look at all kinds of roles. She did not want to be boxed in as a Latina actor or, for that matter, a Bond girl.
She's a Fashion and Beauty Icon
It wasn’t long before the fashion industry wanted a piece of the rising Hollywood star. In 2021, Estée Lauder announced Ana de Armas as its Global Brand Ambassador. As part of the association, the actor would appear in numerous campaigns for the esteemed cosmetics company.
For her part, Ana said she freaked out a little when she got the news. She was excited about getting to work with such an iconic brand.
Ana's New Beau
In June 2021, Page Six reported that Ana was dating Tinder VP Paul Boukadakis. Six months later, the press obtained several photos of the seemingly happy couple indulging in some sweet PDA. The couple never issued a public statement about dating, but the proof was in the images.
Soon, Ana and Paul were gracing several industry events together. She and Ben Affleck had never made any public appearances while dating – so this new relationship seemed like the real deal. The pair attended several premieres in 2022, including the Venice Film Festival premiere of “Blonde” in September.
Ana Ups the Ante in "The Gray Man"
In 2022, Ana starred in the Netflix thriller "The Gray Man" alongside Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Dhanush. In an interview, Ana shared that playing the role of the highly-intelligent Agent Dani Miranda helped her learn about herself as an actor. The process made her aware of her strengths.
Although she was no stranger to action films, the intensity of physical training for “The Gray Man” was new to her. Despite the hype and star-studded cast, the Russo-brothers film did not have many takers.
She Plays the Most Challenging Role of Her Career
2022 would bring Ana her most iconic role yet, as Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix film “Blonde.” Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the film follows the wild ups and downs of Marilyn Monroe’s career. The film was already controversial for numerous reasons before its release, partly because the story is fictional but wants to pass off as a biopic.
Ana herself was unfamiliar with Marilyn Monroe’s work. She told L'Officiel that she was honored to have the director’s trust regardless. Her approach was to imitate Marilyn Monroe’s journey — every joy, fear, and insecurity.
Behind the Casting and Making of "Blonde"
Director Andrew Dominik first noticed Ana’s brilliant performance in “Knock Knock.” Ana got the role of Marilyn after her first audition, even though the casting process overall was long. The director’s decision to cast Ana had raised many an eyebrow since she had a pronounced Spanish accent.
The actor worked with a dialect coach for a year. She also studied hundreds of videos, audio recordings, films, and photographs to embody the role. Despite the initial criticism, Ana’s powerful performance won over fans and critics alike.
Ana Took the Role Seriously
Ana made headlines not just for her performance in “Blonde,” but also for her unusual preparation methods. She spoke with AnOther Magazine about when she and the crew wrote messages to Marilyn Monroe. "We went to the cemetery and put it on her grave," she said.
She went on telling that they were all asking for Monroe's permission, in a way. They all felt like they had a huge responsibility and wanted to do their best.
"Blonde" Receives Love and Backlash
“Blonde” premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it received a 14-minute standing ovation. Despite the praise for Ana’s acting, the film received significant backlash. Viewers and celebrities called out the film for wildly inaccurate events and cashing in on Marilyn’s legacy.
During press runs, Ana had built a narrative that Marilyn would have been proud of the film. So far, very few people agree. Since its release, audiences have panned the creators for fetishizing a dead woman’s trauma and legacy.
On the NC-17 Rating
“Blonde” was the first Netflix production rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America. The rating generated considerable buzz, drawing strong reactions from audiences, cast, and crew alike. What is an NC-17 rating? It indicates a film unsuitable for anyone below the age of 17.
Ana and the creators maintained that explicit content was integral to staying true to the story. An essential element in unraveling the culture of exploitation within which Marilyn Monroe’s story takes place. Due to the rating, the film’s limited theatrical release also had a restricted audience.
She Was Not the First Choice to Play Marilyn
Playing Marilyn Monroe is every Hollywood actress’s dream. Although Ana ended up becoming the only right choice for the role, she allegedly was not the first choice. She faced competition from the most talented actors in the industry.
The film’s creators initially considered Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts to play the iconic star. One of the points of contention in casting Ana was her accent. However, none of the other actresses made the cut for reasons unknown.
The Things She Did to Bring Marilyn to Life
According to a Netflix article, Ana started seeing Marilyn Monroe in her dreams early on in the making of the film. That is how seriously she took the responsibility. Observers say the actor was deeply-immersed in embodying the role. So much so that she even conversed with Marilyn in her sleep.
Call her crazy or committed, the deep empathy translated into Ana’s splendid performance in the film. One can fault the movie, not Ana’s acting.
On Becoming Marilyn Monroe
Ana received rave reviews for her incredible performance in “Blonde.” While speaking about the film, Ana said that nearly every scene had an existing visual reference for inspiration. The director created a “reference bible” filled with hundreds of photos and notes documenting Marilyn Monroe at different stages in her career.
Ana’s job was to delve deeper and peel back the emotional layers of each scene. Then she needed to re-create the moment for the camera in agonizing physical and emotional detail.
Looking Like Marilyn
The next step was looking like Marilyn Monroe. Ana shared how the hair and make-up department had one brief – turn Ana into Marilyn. A tough ask, given how Ana’s hairline was different than Marilyn's. The make-up department made her bleach her eyebrows and shave the center to find the correct Marilyn shape.
She said they also gave her a bald prosthetic cap to hide her natural hair color. She had close to 100 different looks since the movie had an extended timeline.
The cast and crew of “Blonde” were speechless when they witnessed Ana in full costume with hair and makeup for the first time. Her co-star Adrien Brody shared how he felt like had been transported to another time and place when she channeled Marilyn Monroe.
Ana reportedly burst into tears upon seeing herself in the mirror. She wondered how she would be able to keep doing this every day.
What Does Joyce Carol Oates Think of Ana’s Performance?
“Blonde” is a film adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s novel of the same name. Joyce came up with the idea for her novel after she came across a photograph of a teenage Norma Jean Baker in 1941. Norma had just won a California beauty contest. Joyce had always been interested in the person behind Marilyn Monroe, not so much the celebrity.
To that end, she has given the movie her support and blessing – although emphasizing the film is the director’s vision. She called Ana’s performance “mesmerizing,” stating that the actor epitomized Marilyn’s fragility, beauty, and innocence.
Ana and Louis Vuitton
In 2022, Ana partnered with Louis Vuitton for all her promotional appearances in the year. She wore the fashion house exclusively for all her red-carpet events, including her debut at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022.
The outfit in question was a gorgeous pink LV gown, painstakingly hand-pleated and made from mousseline and satin. Ana’s grace and beauty had elevated her to the ranks of a global fashion icon.
Ethical Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
In 2021 Ana partnered with the Natural Diamond Council. This was her first celebrity campaign. The actor was keen on working with the company since it was among the few ones that source diamonds ethically.
Her focus was on encouraging people not only to buy diamonds but also to know that their purchase did not violate the lives and rights of those who worked with them. She told Vogue that working with a company whose values and beliefs aligned with hers felt good.