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Adria Arjona Talks Hit Man, Zoë Kravitz’s Pussy Island, Blink Twice

Adria Arjona Talks Hit Man, Zoë Kravitz’s Pussy Island, Blink Twice

Adria Arjona’s new movie Hit Man is a rousing success, but she’s trying not to think about it. The Richard Linklater feature, starring Glen Powell as an undercover fake-killer-for-hire and Arjona as a woman who tries to solicit his services, first premiered to rave reviews at the 2023 Venice Film Festival, shortly before it was acquired by Netflix out of the Toronto Film Festival in the year’s largest deal. “I try to stay out of it,” the actress. “I try not to read the nice things people say as well as trying not to read the bad things. It’s going to damage me either way — like, I’m going to turn into a huge diva if I read all amazing things said about me.”

Arjona, 32, who grew up in Mexico City and Miami, has been acting professionally for a decade, garnering roles in True DetectiveAndor and HBO Max remake of Father of the Bride. This summer’s lineup marks a turning point in her career (after Hit Man she’ll be seen in Zoë Kravitz’s buzzy directorial debut Blink Twice) and her bucket list (Linklater has long been one of her favorite filmmakers). She’s Zooming into her THR interview from a JFK airport-bound car, after which she’ll stop at her LA home for just enough time to pack up for a summer on the Portland, OR set of Criminal, the Prime Video series from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

It’s all very Hollywood, but she is quick to stress that she travels with her friends and family — her mother accompanied her to Hit Man’s recent Austin premiere and her aunt and two best friends were along for the New York press circuit — to keep her grounded. “My people keep me humble, because no one makes fun of me more than they do,” she says with a laugh.

When you took the Hit Man role, what were you looking for in your career?

I choose my roles by instinct, if a project gets me moving and talking differently. But I also think about who am I going to be spending three months with? I don’t get that time back and I only have a certain amount of movies I can do in a lifetime, so who I’m going to be around or learn from is really important to me. I felt I could learn from Rick, I got to pick his brain and collaborate with him and he gave me so much confidence. I’m really not a strategic person, I’m not like oh I’m going to do this because it’s going to be good for my career. I wish my brain thought like that, but I guess that’s why I have agents.

There’s going to be debate about whether this movie should have had more theatrical runway before hitting Netflix; what was it like seeing it in a theater?

The first time I saw it with an audience was in Austin [for the premiere] and I had heard that people have been clapping and cheering during the movie. There’s that big phone scene between Glen and I, and all of a sudden everyone started doing it and I was like wait, the movie hasn’t ended yet what are you guys doing? But it was emotional, because that was actually a scene we’d spoken about for so long, and we tried really hard to crack it.

What other memories from filming stick out to you the most?

We really spent most of our time in New Orleans working. We didn’t have time to go exploring. All I saw was Glen’s living room for the first couple weeks and then we were on set. I would wake up and go to the gym — Glen would also be at the gym — then go home and shower and by 9 a.m. I was sitting down with Glen and Rick having breakfast and going over the script. We’d have dinner together, and by that time we were so tired we’d go to bed. We did that even on the weekends. It was a lot of hard work. But then on the last day of filming, it was a night shoot so we finished at maybe 2:00am and it was Glen’s birthday. I got him a cake and we had a band come in and play and it was a big celebration with shots of tequila. We hugged and cried and I didn’t want to leave. Usually by the time we get to the end of a shoot I’m like, okay peace guys. But this time I really wanted to stay, because Glen was still filming all his other characters. Sadly I had to go to Andor.

When you saw the final version of the movie, did any of those characters take you by surprise?

All of them! During rehearsal there were always teeth floating around. Glen would try to hide them, it was like he wanted to keep the image of Ron, the sexy guy, for me. And he makes fun of me for this, but I love Tanner, the guy with no teeth who’s full of tattoos. I think he feels like a good time.

Arjona with Glen Powell in Hit Man.

Brian Roedel/Netflix

You said you mostly stay out of the discourse, but was that something you came to instantaneously?

I think I learned it the hard way. If you give your heart and soul to something, and it doesn’t resonate with people, it’s heartbreaking. My father is a musician and he’s been in the public eye and I grew up with it that way. I saw how private he is, and how he only focuses on the work and being creative.

How did the experience of working on Hit Man with Linklater compare to being directed by Zoë Kravitz?

I noticed early on that she’s really empathetic toward her actors. The way she directed me was very different from the way she directed Naomi [Ackie]. I’m also in a bikini, and I couldn’t have been in better hands. She wanted all of us women to succeed in her movie.

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How well do you tolerate watching yourself?

No! My face is so expressive. Every time I’m like, my God stop moving your face. The first time I watch one of my movies I’m very hard on myself. The second time around is usually about vanity — like oh, look at my arm, or I hate how I look in that scene. Then the third time I can finally see it for what it is. But what’s interesting is that when I finally watch something I’m in, I already feel like I’ve grown and changed so much since then.

Blink Twice was interesting because it’s such an ensemble piece, so I was really able to enjoy it the first time because I got to see all my friend just kill it. And I was so impressed with what Zoë did. I got out of that room pretty giddy, which hasn’t happened many times in my career. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat, and I watched it basically by myself — two of the producers were there, but we weren’t sitting very close to each other, so I felt alone. But it wasn’t scary in the way it might seem. It’s scary in a different way, but to all my scaredy-cat girls, this is your movie.

Did it have its original title, Pussy Island, when you joined?

Yes! I auditioned for it, so I got the sides which were only like four pages. Zoë was gracious enough to tell me a little bit more about what was going on. Once I got the whole script I was like, this is fucking awesome. It will always be Pussy Island to me.

What is the biggest way you’ve changed since you filmed Hit Man?

I’m more confident in what I do. As a Latin American actress, I’ve been so focused on trying really hard to pave my way and prove to the industry that I’m more than just the stereotype and am capable of different roles. I didn’t realize that there’s another side of myself, that I want to be creative in different ways. I don’t want to prove anymore that there is enough space for another Latin actress — I’m over that. Next. Now I’m like, what are the kinds of stories that I want to bring to life?

This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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