Scroll to Top

‘Hit Man’ Star Adria Arjona on Glen Powell, Andor, Next Roles

By newadmin / Published on Saturday, 15 Jun 2024 15:58 PM / No Comments / 19 views


Adria Arjona says she was destined for pop stardom. She dreamed of becoming the next Beyoncé or Britney Spears as she crisscrossed the Americas with her father, the Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona, watching him serenade audiences with Latin pop ballads. Her home became a hotel room. She jetted between tour dates and stood backstage cheering him on. There was only one thing missing from her supersized expectations:

“I can’t sing,” Arjona says. “So, that was not in the books for me.”

Instead, Arjona has paved her own path in Hollywood. After some small TV roles, she landed a recurring part in Season Two of True Detective, playing Emily, the girlfriend to Taylor Kitsch’s motorcycle cop Paul. Two years later, she had the lead as Dorothy in NBC’s Emerald City, and in 2022 she entered the Star Wars universe with a part as mechanic Bix Caleen in the Disney+ show Andor. But it’s her latest role, as the co-lead and love interest in Netflix’s crime rom-com Hit Man, that’s a true breakout moment. The film follows cat-loving professor turned fake hit man Gary Johnson (Glen Powell), who dons a wire for the cops and meets murder-for-hire hopefuls in character — including fake teeth, neck tats, trench coats, accents, whatever he believes the client will like — to goad them into laying out their criminal plans. Dressed up as “sexy” bad boy Ron, he meets with Madison Masters (Arjona), who wants her abusive husband dead, and the two quickly develop a steamy romance. 

The Richard Linklater-directed film, which Linklater and Powell co-wrote and produced, draws inspiration from the real-life story of undercover contract killer Gary Johnson, the subject of a 2001 Texas Monthly article, who was hired to take out more than 60 people. But the real Gary never had chemistry with a client like Powell and Arjona’s. Their electric connection is the driving force behind the success of the movie, which has been No. 1 on Netflix’s top 10 list since its June 7 debut. 

It’s been a winding journey for Arjona, 32. Born to a Puerto Rican mother in San Juan and raised in Mexico City, she moved with her family to Miami as a teenager. After so much horizon-expanding travel throughout Central and South America as a child, she says settling there felt like a “culture shock.” Rediscovering the arts helped her find solid ground. 

“My dad advised me to get back to my roots, get back to being creative,” Arjona says. She had been into dance as a kid, comfortable hiding behind glitzy costumes and ensemble performances, but her father suggested she branch out and study photography or acting. She followed his advice, enrolling in the Miami Acting Studio. Her mentor there, Ralph Kinnard, recognized her talent immediately. 

“He was the first person that was like, ‘Hey, you can really take this seriously and become something with this,’  and I thank him so much for that,” Arjona says. Kinnard was so confident in his young student that he told her to leave. “He kicked me out of the school and told me I needed to move to New York. He told me, ‘If you stay here, you’re gonna end up doing soap operas in Miami’ — which, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. But he saw something else in me that I didn’t specifically see in myself.” 

She took Kinnard’s advice, too. At 18, Arjona moved to Manhattan and enrolled at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute (whose graduates include Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, and Claire Danes, among others). Just a few years later, she was scoring her first roles in that classic Hollywood gateway, the police procedural — in her case, Person of Interest and Unforgettable.

From there, she has flitted between action movies, romantic dramas, and comedies, playing everything from a scientist-slash-romantic interest in Sony’s Morbius to an eager fiancé in the Latin-inflected remake of Father of the Bride. She attributes her chameleon-like acting abilities to her nomadic upbringing. 

“That has really come from living on the road and being exposed to so many different kinds of beautiful people that come from all sorts of circles of the world,” Arjona says, “and stealing from them, honestly.” 

When it was time to cast Hit Man’s vengeful yet alluring Madison, Powell was sold on Arjona from the jump. “Thirty minutes into our meeting, Glen was like, ‘We’re doing this movie together,’” Arjona says. For the next five hours they celebrated with rounds of tequila. 

With Powell in a tense moment

Netflix

Powell and Linklater were in search of a true collaborator, and though Arjona had never been a part of a writers room prior to Hit Man, they welcomed her input. Her character Madison was a “skeleton in the script,” she says, and she relished building her backstory and shaping scenarios with Powell and Linklater. For two and a half weeks, the three of them worked out of Powell’s New Orleans rental home, crafting the story together. 

“We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner together,” Arjona says. “Glen and I would work out in the mornings, I would say hi to him at the gym, we would go shower, and then we were at a table — Rick, Glen, and I — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., every single day, weekends included.” 

Some of the film’s dialogue originated from conversations Arjona had during rehearsals, and songs, like Anohni and the Johnson’s “Future Feminism,” she listened to (the track inspired a conversation the lovebirds had about the human body’s relationship to the moon).

“I never felt like I had to prove myself; it always felt like they were digging and trying to get things out of me, which is the complete opposite of how things usually work,” Arjona says.

While Madison is a possibly dangerous temptress for Powell’s character, Arjona doesn’t want viewers to lump her in with the femme fatales of old — think: Basic Instinct’s Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), To Die For’s Suzanne Stone Moretto (Nicole Kidman), Batman Returns’ Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Madison, who meets Ron in a traumatic mental state, is in constant reinvention, Arjona says, and defies the definition of the traditional noir figure. 

“The movie is about the trope of a hit man, debunking the idea of a hit man,” Arjona says. “They really aren’t real. They only exist in movies. I think the same thing with femme fatales. Madison has watched so many movies and she’s playing [with] the idea of a femme fatale for Ron.” 

Noting a scene where her character slips into a sexy flight attendant outfit to greet “Ron” as their relationship is heating up, Arjona says, “It’s sexy and hot because they have chemistry, but it’s funny and cringe all at the same time. Role-play is their love language.” 

Trending

Netflix

Next up, Arjona stars in Zoë Kravitz’s directorial debut, the thriller Blink Twice (due out Aug. 23), and some time next year we’ll see her in the second season of Andor. She’s tight-lipped about any upcoming plot points, but she does acknowledge how Latinx fans of the Star Wars franchise have looked up to her. As an outspoken advocate against typecasting, she says she’s done with cartel stories (she did one episode of Narcos in 2018) and prefers to hop through film and TV genres, whether it’s a thriller like Morbius or a comedy like Hit Man. She’s shape-shifted her way through Hollywood in order to avoid being stereotyped. She does this not only for viewers, but for herself. 

“It gets boring to play these characters over and over again,” Arjona says. “As a Latin American woman and someone that surrounds themselves with a lot of Latin women, I have a huge family and I have a huge group of friends that are majority Latin. We cannot be more different. And it bothers me that people think of us in very limited categories.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *