Her name — Ana de Armas — isn’t familiar yet in the U.S., although she had prominent parts in “War Dogs” (playing Miles Teller’s wife) and in “Hands of Stone” (playing Edgar Ramirez’s wife). Yet over the past decade, the Cuban-born actress has been a consistently rising film and TV star in both Cuba and Spain. But it’s her role as Joi, the unique companion of Ryan Gosling’s character in “Blade Runner 2049,” that’s likely going to make the same thing happen here. De Armas, 29, did her best to keep the inner workings of Joi kind of cloudy — “It’s better for the audience not to know too much about her,” she said — when she sat down to talk about the “Blade Runner” sequel last week in Los Angeles.
Q: Is there anything you’re willing to reveal about Joi, beyond the fact that she’s something like the girlfriend of K, played by Ryan Gosling?
A: She’s hard to explain. I think she’s very complex. One of the things I liked the most about her is that she has a lot more to offer than what is expected of her. She’s meant to be someone who pleases the needs of people in a certain way, but she’s very intelligent and she processes whatever she learns.
Q: Was “Blade Runner” a favorite movie of yours?
A: I first saw when I was about 10-years-old. I didn’t understand anything about it (laughs). Then I watched it later, a few times, because it was very difficult to understand. It was like what is this movie telling me? It’s a lot to take in. But when you get it, you get it.
Q: Was the part in the sequel offered to you or did you audition?
A: I auditioned. (Director) Denis Villeneuve was looking at I don’t know how many actresses. I just came in to read. The first audition was material from a different movie, but for the second audition I got scenes from the real movie. And for the third audition Ryan came in to read with me.
Q: How did you react to finding out you got the part?
A: I was just over the moon! When I got the call, I was in an Uber, and I was so excited, I was screaming and crying. It happened during the week of my birthday, so it was like a gypsy’s wedding: I was celebrating for seven days in a row!
Q: Do you have any idea what made them choose you?
A: I was in movies when I was in Spain and Cuba, but it’s pretty much when you move to Hollywood, nothing before that really counts. So, I was still in the process of getting out there and really fighting just to have a chance. I knew very little English before I moved to L.A. three and a half years ago, and my accent was a big issue. Also, I’m Cuban but I don’t look Cuban. So, there were all these Hollywood stereotype issues. But that didn’t happen with “Blade Runner.” That wasn’t going to be a problem; instead it was going to bring that color and that warmth that Denis wanted.
Q: What are your memories of that first reading with Ryan?
A: He definitely has a presence. I remember at the audition I was thinking, “I’m already nervous and now you bring this man here? This is just what I need!” But we really connected during the scene in that audition. The chemistry was there and it was real. I never felt that the audition was a question about my talent or my ability to perform. It was just a creative search for Denis. He wanted to find the right people to go together.
— Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at email@example.com.