Before 'Deep Water,' Ana De Armas Acted In English Movies Without Knowing English
Ana de Armas has some impressive acting range: she has played a hologram (Blade Runner 2049), a Bond girl (No Time To Die), a cardboard cut-out in Ben Affleck's dumpster (which still makes more sense than their movie Deep Water), and now she's set to play Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix biopic Blonde. It's been reported that de Armas had to work with a dialect coach for nine months and then perform additional ADR to get Monroe's accent right -- but it's impressive that that's all it took when you consider that, less than a decade ago, she didn't speak any English.
De Armas was born in Cuba and got her first big breaks in Spain, but "a hit movie in Spain" and "a legit hit movie" are very different things. In 2014, she decided to move to LA despite not knowing anyone or, you know, speaking the language. She took four months of full-day English classes but even then, her mastery of the language was less than perfect. When she managed to score her first big roles like War Dogs with Miles Teller or Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves, she had to learn her lines phonetically -- as in, memorizing the sounds. She says she "wasn't really sure what she was saying" in Knock Knock, which is the only reasonable explanation for having agreed to take part in that cinematic turd.
It probably helped that Knock Knock was actually shot in Chile with a local crew and a Chilean co-star, so she probably wasn't the only one not totally following the script. But for War Dogs, things got more complicated. While her English was (just barely) good enough to shoot fluffy pre-made promotional interviews ...
... the fact that she "couldn't sustain a conversation" led to some troubles on the set. When director Todd Phillips changed a single line of dialogue, de Armas admits "it was a disaster." He ended up telling her, "Okay, forget it, just say what you had." She gives the example of not knowing what the phrase "I beg your pardon" meant:
"I thought it was really angry, like 'I beg your pardon!' Like I am going to take your pardon. And every person in the room was like, 'She has no clue what she’s saying right now.' But the thing is, I knew exactly what was happening in the scene. It was a crazy combination of 'She has no clue' and 'She's doing it.'"
So let's give her a break if her Marilyn Monroe accent ends up being less than perfect -- although early impressions claim she nailed it. Hopefully, spending extended periods with Ben Affleck didn't undo all that English language progress and make her start speaking in Bostonian instead.
Top image: Hulu