A little over two years ago, critics and audiences got to watch Rian Johnson’s Knives Out for the first time, and movie-fans the world over fell hard for Ana de Armas. The young actor delivers a wonderful turn in the mystery, and it was thrilling to watch her earnest and moral character navigate around and survive the nest of vipers known as the Thrombey family. The performance was massive for her, solidifying her reputation as a sweet and charismatic big screen presence after her work in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, and last year she performed magic again as the peppy highlight of Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die.
Her part in Adrian Lyne’s Deep Water, however, is a completely different story. She plays a role that is very much against type in the sexy thriller, and in the making of the film she was openly concerned about movie-goers turning on her because of the nasty qualities of her character.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of doing a virtual interview with Adrian Lyne to dig into the making of Deep Water, and during our conversation I specifically asked about his experience working with Ana de Armas. I pointed to the extreme contrast that exists between her part as Melinda in the new movie and Marta Cabrera in Knives Out, and he told me that the horribleness of the former seemingly shook her confidence during production. Said Lyne,
In Ana de Armas’ defense, one can totally understand her perspective after seeing Deep Water, and you’ll notice that Adrian Lyne doesn’t actually deny that her character is meant to be off putting to characters. Melinda is a vicious individual as portrayed in the film, and notably unapologetic.
Based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, Deep Water sees Ana de Armas’ Melinda married to Ben Affleck’s Vic – but it’s not an ordinary or faithful relationship. In hopes of stopping Melinda from abandoning him and their young daughter, Vic permits her to have extra-marital affairs. Just because she has this sexual freedom doesn’t mean that she feels obligated to express any real affection or gratitude, though, and instead she seems to enjoy rubbing her freedom in her husband’s face.
What Ana de Armas got wrong about the reception of her character watching the film is the capacity for audiences to separate actor from performance – and in that respect, what she does in Deep Water is actually brave and impressive. Actors who only take on nice and likable roles eventually get boring, and what de Armas does as Melinda successfully shows a whole new aspect of her range (and I say that knowing that she has played villains before, such as in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock). As I write in my review of the film, her only makes her a more exciting talent and anticipate the bold choice that may be coming next.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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