Warning: Very slight spoilers for Knives Out are ahead.
If there’s one thing viewers will know about the new mystery movie Knives Out before they enter the theater, it’s that there are a ton of famous faces in the movie. Chris Evans. Jamie Lee Curtis. Daniel Craig. Christopher Plummer. Lakeith Stanfield. Toni Collette. Katherine Langford. The list goes on and on. But, while the film is largely recognized for its star-studded ensemble cast, there’s one lesser known actor who steals the show: Ana de Armas is the true star of Knives Out and she kills it as a caring nurse, who is just trying to look out for her immigrant family (and also one who vomits when she lies).
De Armas plays Marta, the nurse of 85-year-old Harlan Thrombey (Plummer), a mystery novelist who is found dead the night after his birthday party. Without giving away too much, Marta becomes the center of the movie when she starts working with Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig), who feels he can trust her because she has a condition that means she’ll vomit if she doesn’t tell the truth. As an immigrant — in a running joke all of Harlan’s xenophobic relatives think she’s from a different country — Marta is also trying to protect her undocumented mother, so she needs to avoid being implicated in Harlan’s murder. Also, when it’s revealed Harlan left Marta his estate, one of the family members tries to blackmail her into giving it up by saying he’ll expose that her mom isn’t in the U.S. legally.
Basically, Marta has, by far, the most going on in Knives Out, driving the plot and acting as the source of the film’s political commentary. This gives de Armas a lot to do. She has to play a sweet, attentive nurse; an action star as she races around town to investigate a murder mystery; a person who has to hear racist comments but can’t speak out about them; and a woman who is constantly conflicted internally, because she can’t lie, but often needs to. All of this comes across beautifully in de Armas’ performance as the driving force of the film.
For Armas, this character was important, because Marta is different that other Latina roles she’d been offered.
“These characters don’t exist,” she told Variety. “They’re rare. It’s just almost impossible to see — or at least the previous Latina, Spanish-speaking parts that I’ve seen before, they’ve really not necessarily had the best qualities or possibilities. Or they don’t really reflect our community or our strengths."
Thankfully, if you found yourself rooting for Marta and intrigued by de Armas as an actor, she has a couple more big projects coming up. (You can also check out her past work, which includes Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs, and Knock Knock.) Most notably, de Armas has been cast in No Time to Die, the upcoming James Bond movie in which she will once again star opposite Craig as "Paloma."
“[Paloma] is a character that is very irresponsible," de Armas told The Hollywood Reporter of her character, who, like her, is Cuban. "She's got this bubbliness of someone who is excited to be on a mission, but she plays with this ambiguity — you don't really know if she's like a really trained, prepared partner for Bond … She's very smart. She helps Bond navigate through certain things that he wouldn't be able to do alone."
In addition to joining the Bond franchise, de Armas will play a fictionalized version of Marilyn Monroe in the adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Blonde, which also premieres next year. She’ll also star in Deep Water opposite Ben Affleck, and has two more films in the works, too. As she told THR, “So maybe I'll sleep next year, someday."