For decades James Bond has fought anything to do with Communism – but all that is about to change thanks to a screen beauty… from Cuba.
Actress Ana de Armas, a new Hollywood star, famed for her revealing Instagram pics, plays 007 love interest Paloma in the next film, codenamed Bond 25.
Daniel Craig, in his farewell outing as the MI6 ace, is said to have hand-picked Ana after they filmed the movie Knives Out, which is released in November.
After also starring in Blade Runner 2049, Ana, 31, has the classic rags-to-riches story – a teen who left a humble life in Cuba to find fame and fortune.
Her family lived in a small apartment in a gloomy block in run-down Santa Cruz Del Norte, 30 miles east of Havana.
Dad Ramon, 71, worked as a primary school teacher and at an oil refinery. Her mum, also Ana, was a housewife raising two kids.
But the young Ana had a passport out of Cuba, as grandparents on one side were Spanish, from Leon in the north. And she abandoned a theatre course to fly to Spain to find work in a TV soap.
Ana has been back in Cuba and says: “I’ll always be proud of it.”
That surprised some old contacts who said she fled the Caribbean at the first opportunity.
Professor Corina Mestre Violably was a director at Cuba’s National Theatre School, where Ana enrolled in 2002.
She reveals: “We did not see Ana for long. She did not even complete two years of her four-year acting training.
She jumped at the chance to take a part on Spanish TV using her passport, and that was that.”
When the job ended, Ana reportedly headed back to Cuba to re-enlist on the course.
But she was not welcome.
Professor Violably claims: “After a while, I think the job dried up and she wanted to come back.
We said ‘no, you had a choice between training to be an actress or taking a part on a soap opera, and you chose the soap opera’.”
Claudia Alvarino remembers her old acting school pal Ana as a natural born leader.
She says: “She was very likeable and kind – the leader of our gang. But she left after only two years.
“It was hard training back then, far more rigorous and strict.”
But Ana still found time for fun. Claudia adds: “She had boy-friends. She was a young woman.”
Neighbour Ibrahim Rangel, 72, says: “I would say she was intranquila – restless. She was a young girl in a hurry.
She stood out because she was blonde, which is unusual here. She was a lovely girl, very pretty, very intelligent.”
Ana’s old home is now occupied by a woman called Miriam, 45, who says the apartment has since been extended.
She points to her daughter Celine’s pink bedroom, which she believes would have been Ana’s as a child.
It’s pretty but basic – a far cry from the five star haunts Ana now frequents in Los Angeles. Most of Ana’s old friends have heard nothing from her in recent years.
Professor Violably claims actor pal Benicio del Toro, 52, encouraged her to visit last year.
The professor adds: “He persuaded her to come back, so she turned up to have a few photos taken, then disappeared.”
Ana insists her affection for Cuba is real. Days ago she posted about her homeland to her 1.4million Instagram followers.
Alongside a picture with one of her grandparents, she wrote: “This is home! This is Cuba. Where my family is at, my roots, my pride and my heart. My strength, my loved ones, my hood, my blood.
“I’ll always be proud of it, always remember, always want the best for my country and my people.”
She also posed with her mother, who she described as her “Number One”.
Ana has acknowledged that her success only came because she broadened her horizons.
Of life in Cuba, she said: “I had there, in front of my eyes, graduates who were not working or who didn’t have money because they had to perform social service.
On television I would see nothing more than old reruns of soap operas or things that were of poor-quality.
“I was fortunate to also have Spanish nationality, and with that freedom I could come to Spain.
I don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t had this advantage.”
Ana made her film debut in 2006 Spanish film Una rosa de Francia.
In 2015 she got her big break, in Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves. Two years on she was in Blade Runner 2049, with Ryan Gosling.
Then came Knives Out. Actor Craig, 51, was so impressed that she became a shoe-in for Bond 25, which also stars Lea Seydoux and Naomie Harris
A long-term friend of Ana’s said: “They seemed to hit it off. There seemed to be an intensity between them.
Ana felt exotic and intelligent. Not a walk-over for Bond. Daniel suggested Ana for the part.”
Craig, who has a child with actress wife Rachel Weisz, is on the mend after injuring his ankle.
He’s back soon… and will have his Armas full when he and Ana film the love scenes.
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