MANILA, Philippines — In the Russo Brothers-directed spy thriller The Gray Man, strong female characters get their share of the limelight, saving the day and even the male hero in times of distress.
Like Ana de Armas, who is also at the center of all the action alongside male co-stars such as Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. She plays CIA agent Dani Miranda, who comes to the rescue of The Gray Man, aka Agent Six (Ryan Gosling), not once but many times, prompting the latter to joke that he doesn’t suffer from his wounds, but from a contusion. ego.
In an intense fight sequence, Ana goes “mano o mano” (or “woman o mano”, as Ryan put it during the film’s recent virtual press conference) with Bollywood star Dhanush as the killer at pledge.
The 34-year-old Cuban star loves everything about his character, which incidentally isn’t in Mark Greaney’s novel The Gray Man on which the film is based.
She said she’s been in movies where she’s portrayed as both beautiful and badass, but it’s “refreshing” to kick ass with less focus on looks.
“I’ve been there. I’ve done this. I was a woman in high heels kicking ass…in a Bond movie she was beautiful and, you know, like I was supposed to be for that movie,” she told media during a virtual global presser.
“But there’s something really refreshing about this one where the focus isn’t on that. And I’m not Ryan’s lover. We did that too. We went,” she joked, referencing their previous film Blade Runner 2049.
“So it’s about her power in a different way, you know? It’s really cool. And it’s important to put women in action movies from that angle and have that vision of it, and to accentuate this share of badass women.
Besides Ana, The Gray Man also stars Alfre Woodard, Julia Butters, and Jessica Henwick as strong and dynamic female characters.
Alfre, who plays the agency’s boss, also talked about why it’s important to see more women directing action movies.
“It’s important because we’re the stronger sex. So we just have to keep…you know, luckily these guys have the kind of women in their lives that they know,” she said.
“Whether they are mothers, aunts, daughters and all. You know, Ryan is just shaken by strong women in his life. So we are just presenting the real life. And often you don’t get that in the movie.
As for Julia Butters, the film’s youngest actress, she thinks it’s very important that female action heroines aren’t portrayed as “women wearing high heels and beating up guys, and oh, they’re so sexy”. You know, it’s very important that you also represent them in a way that they’re doing a job. And it doesn’t matter if they are necessarily found attractive. Even if it is a magnificent cast.
“But yeah, I think it’s really important to portray women as women instead of, you know, high heels, long hair, long nails, whipping boys, you know? I think that ‘It’s very important to portray them with respect and power at the same time,’ added the teenage actress.
Meanwhile, during a separate roundtable, which The STAR attended, we asked Ana more about how she helped further develop her character, which, as mentioned, is entirely new.
She gladly accepted the role because she was “this vibrant, strong, intelligent, independent woman. She was not the love interest. She wasn’t the girl to save and it was quite the opposite.
“She was the agent in charge of accomplishing this mission and so when things go wrong, she’s the one who has to figure out how to get out of there alive and clean up after Six’s mess. Also, try to somehow connect all the points fairly quickly and to be ahead of everyone,” she told the newspaper.
“And figure out who to trust, which is clearly very difficult in this movie because you don’t know who is who and what the intentions are. I loved everything about her. It wasn’t just a matter of physical strength. It was also a psychological side. And at the same time, her human side, how flexible she is to adapt to the situation.
To meet the demands on her part, Ana said she went through a process where she had to identify the things she was good at.
“Preparing for this film took quite a long time to my advantage. I think I started learning about myself, what I was best at, what my strengths were,” she said.
She built the character in collaboration with the directors. “The Russos weren’t with me in training. So we had to catch up every other day, and I kept them updated on what I felt more comfortable doing. who was wrong, what was wrong, you know? And we started building the character that way…putting more into the movie about what I was good at,” recalls she.
Part of his preparation and research involved talking to a real CIA agent and working with a military trainer. “Because Dani Miranda works in the office, (and) she’s also in the field. So it’s a rare crossover happening there and I just wanted to have both sides – the military training and the experience hardcore military man, and at the same time, someone who is very smart and sensitive and always loves, trying to solve problems,” Ana said.
“So it turned out that this character came to life in a very organic and collaborative way because at the beginning, I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Like, I hadn’t gone to that degree of training before. So I just didn’t know how I was going to react or my body was going to react to that, or if I was going to feel strong enough or whatever. So it just happened.
“And the character, I just loved her. I love who this woman is and all of her background, her training, her mentality, and how badass and fearless she is, and all that.
(The Gray Man is now streaming on Netflix.)