Blade Runner 2049 Actress Ana de Armas is Finding The Answers to All of the Eternal Questions
Perpetual rainfall, hovering cars, plans of a worldwide computer linkup, a human race polluted with crime, and the mass execution of artificial beings known as replicants—this is the dystopian picture director Ridley Scott imagines for the city of Los Angeles in the year 2019 with his 1982 sci-fi film, Blade Runner. While we may not have flying cars or sophisticated androids that are virtually identical to humans (or do we? Think Siri), we do have our fair share of corruption and an incessant desire as a species to understand our purpose here on earth.
The protagonist of Scott’s Blade Runner, Deckard, poses the query that perhaps all living beings, inanimate or not, are all seeking answers to the same eternal questions: “Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?” I sat down with the leading lady of this year’s Blade Runner sequel (Blade Runner 2049), Ana de Armas, to find out if nearly three decades after the original Blade Runner was released, we’ve finally discovered the answers to these questions, or if we collectively don’t have these answers, perhaps de Armas has found them for herself.
Where do I come from?
“I come from an island called Cuba,” de Armas tells me as we sit inside Forge studios while a crew of stylists, photographers, and agents scramble around us trying to decide on her first “look” of the day. She left the comforts of Havana in 2014, not in pursuit of making more money or a chance at a “better life,” she says—she traveled to Los Angeles to grow as an artist. “Leaving my career and my life there was a huge risk, but I’ve never been intimidated by risk. It excites me,” she tells me. She knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue acting, enrolling in the National Theatre School of Cuba in Havana when she was only 14 years old. “The four years I studied in drama school were incredibly important in my formation as an actress. They were critical in showing me what discipline is in this profession, what hard work acting really is. It’s nothing fancy, and it’s not easy at all.”
When making the move to America, de Armas didn’t just leave her friends and family behind: she left an extremely successful career in Spain, and accepted that she was going to have to start all over again on her quest to join the ranks of Hollywood. “I didn’t even speak English, I didn’t know anyone,” she says. The transition to life in L.A. wasn’t without its challenges, but de Armas is uniquely self-motivated. Where others floundered, she flew, and she credits her success to her ability to believe in herself, even when the odds looked long. “I was—and still am—doing all of this just for me. If it doesn’t work and I feel like time has passed and I haven’t done the things that I’ve wanted to,” she says nonchalantly, “then I’ll just go back. I try not to put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time I’m very ambitious, which is why I make those decisions. I just want to work, evolve and learn.”
Where am I going?
Throughout the course of our interview, I can tell de Armas is unique in more ways than I care to count. When others fear change, she embraces it and is continuously going towards the direction that presents her with an opportunity to transform. “All of what’s happened to me hasn’t been planned,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been improvising as it happens and I want to keep it that way. Because I feel like, then, I’ll be surprised all the time. I don’t like to have expectations about anything because life will always prove to you, things aren’t going to happen the way you expect them to.”
As wary as she may be of the Hollywood machine, it has been kind to her. She’s notched parts alongside Keanu Reeves in 2015’s Knock Knock and Miles Teller in Todd Phillips’ War Dogs just last year, and 2017’s Blade Runner reboot sees her in possibly her most prominent role to date, alongside Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. “Joi is actually one of the most challenging roles I’ve had as an actress thus far,” de Armas tells me. “Her character is very complex. She’s a very strong woman; she’s also very emotional and very joyful, like her name.” This was de Armas’s first science fiction movie, which she says was “completely insane” in terms of the advancements in technology and the huge levels of concentration, energy and hours that the film demanded, along with many hours of conversation with Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve.
She shares with me that in the majority of the films she’s been in since her move to America, de Armas often finds that she’s one of the only women on set, and Blade Runner 2049 was no different. “Sometimes it can be a little intimidating,” she tells me. “It can feel like there’s sort of boy’s club going on and it’s very obvious you’re the only female there. But in this case, working with Denis and Ryan, I felt very protected and special,” she says. “But even then, I still miss that feminine energy and just having a partner with me that I can share anything with. Sometimes it doesn’t feel natural, to be honest.”
How long have I got?
Lucky for de Armas, the boy’s club got a bit smaller on the set of Three Seconds, out next year, where she starred alongside Rosamund Pike. “I just finished shooting the trailer for this film yesterday with Andrea Di Stefano, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Joel Kinnaman, and Common, so that’s coming. And then, more in the future. I don’t know how long ‘I’ve got’ in Hollywood,” she says, a bit perplexed but also intrigued by the question. “Even though I’ve been acting for over ten years, or more than that, I still feel I haven’t done a lot of the things I want to do. I’m still building and trying things for the first time. In the future, I’ll probably go back to the same island I came from, but in the meantime, I’m just here… floating.”
Written by Eva Barragan
Photographed by Dove Shore
Styled by Chris Horan
Hair by Jenny Cho
Makeup by Melanie Inglessis