Throwing it Back: Ana de Armas on Latinos in Hollywood and Her Big Year Ahead [Exclusive]

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2015 was the year Ana de Armas conquered Hollywood!

After starring in Eli Roth’s thriller “Knock Knock” with Keanu Reeves and Lorenza Izzo, the film opened the doors for the Cuban actress. I spoke with Armas about how she landed the role in “Knock Knock,” as well as how it is to be a Latina in Hollywood and her future projects.

How did you get the role of Bel in “Knock Knock?”

Ana de Armas: I didn’t audition. My agent called me the day I was traveling to Panama to finish “Hands of Stone” with Robert De Niro and Édgar Ramírez. They wanted me to meet with Eli Roth and I said, ‘No, I can’t I’m leaving. I can’t meet with anyone.’ I went back home, I packed my bags and went to a restaurant to meet with Eli. There, he explained the idea for the film and told me what it meant for him. I read the script on the plane and the next day we closed the deal.

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What impressed you the most about working with Keanu Reeves?

De Armas: I’m always nervous when I’m working with someone like him. You never know how it’s going to be. You don’t know how he is, if he’s shy, reserved. You also didn’t know if he was going to feel comfortable because he speaks English and all the crew in Chile spoke Spanish. The truth was that he surprised us because he’s such a generous person. He’s so patient and funny. As a coworker he is incredible and gives you so much. He always wants you to shine.

How has your experience in Hollywood been as a Latina?

De Armas: I am new here and I’ve had good luck. In these two years I feel like so many doors have opened up for me, as well as the minds of many in Hollywood. In “Hands of Stone” I play a Panamanian woman, but in “Knock Knock,” “Exposed,” “War Dogs” and “Overdrive,” none of those roles were initially Latino. There are directors and studios like Warner Bros. that are open to making changes and want to offer opportunities to Latinos. The U.S. is a country where there is a high percentage of Latinos. If we see many in the streets, they should be on the screen.

Tell me about your next projects.

De Armas: Next year I have so many things coming. At the beginning of the year, “Exposed,” another movie with Keanu Reeves, will be released. After “Knock Knock” [Reeves] was producing that film, and he sent me the script, and we filmed in Washington Heights in New York. It will be released on January 22.

Then there is “Hands of Stone” which tells the story of the Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán. Édgar Ramírez is Durán and I play his wife, Felicidad. Robert De Niro and Usher are also in the movie. It’s great cast of actors and we have an amazing Venezuelan director, Jonathan Jakubowicz, who is an artist in every sense of the word. At the end of the year, I have Todd Phillips’ “War Dogs” with Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. It’s not like any other comedy that Todd has done, it’s a bit strange. There are funny moments but in reality, the topic is very serious. Then in January, I will start shooting “Overdrive” with Scott Eastwood in Paris. The director, Antonio Negret, is Colombian. There are Latinos en all these films, have you noticed? Next year will be great!

This article was originally posted on Variety Latino on December 3, 2015.

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