Adria Arjona on bringing out the hero in Morbius
Being in the Marvel and Star Wars universes is an accolade not many actors can tout, but when you see Adria Arjona’s resume, it all makes sense. She cut her teeth on Narcos, True Detective, and Good Omens, among other hit series, by leaving an indelible mark on fans who enjoy depth and storytelling.
Adria Arjona’s tale is just as interesting as her childhood, which allowed her to travel the world. Her father is the famous singer-songwriter, Ricardo Arjona, and Adria tagged along on his tours around the globe. The different cultures have given her a profound insight that allows the range to be any character—not just a Latin one.
Arjona’s warm-hearted nature radiates across the screen in the highly anticipated Marvel movie, Morbius. She stars opposite the titular, Dr. Morbius, played by Jared Leto, and brings forth humanity in the foreboding monster.
Most will rest on the laurels of a Marvel movie, but Adria is not done with 2022 just yet. She will be starring in Andor on Disney+, and she is set to put a Latin twist on the classic Father of the Bride. Adria Arjona is managing to stay busy, and it is easy to see why.
I had the privilege of interviewing Jack Whitehall. I just thought your relationship with him in Good Omens was so fun and natural. Was that chemistry natural from the onset?
To be honest, I think Jack is such a fun and welcoming person, and I feel like he just shows you exactly who he is, so it was easy for us. Within two minutes, we were dying laughing and just having a good time, and it was pretty natural. We talked about the relationship, talking about our lives and catching up, and then we just got on set and followed through with what we had!
Good Omens is a really fun show, and I like how involved Neil Gaiman was. Were you able to bounce ideas off of him? Because everything about the show seemed so well executed.
Yes! To both our director and Neil. I would say Neil was there for every single scene that I shot, with the exception of maybe one. It’s such an honor and a privilege to have the person who created this. I mean, obviously we didn’t have Terry Pratchett, unfortunately, but he created the world with Terry and he understood it. If I had a question, sometimes even the director would be like, “Go to Neil, that’s a Neil question.” The way Neil talks is very calm and poised, and he would give me like a 20-minute answer. With everything that I thought or was planning on doing, he would turn it around and something better would come out of it. It really was a privilege to have him on set, and until today, it’s probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever done.
It was really fun, and it was also the first role that I was ever offered. Neil sort of wrote it with me in mind, and I couldn’t comprehend that. I was like, “Wait, I need to audition, I can’t! I can’t just accept this!” I was a really big Neil Gaiman fan, so I was very scared going into it. I think I almost quit, like twice, but Neil said, “You got this. This was for you and I believe in you.” I remember after the first week, he looked at me and was like, “well, I guess, we can’t fire you now.” I was like, “I know you can’t fire me, but oh my god, I made a mistake.” I was very scared. Neil was a big pioneer for me in not putting me in a box or stereotyping me for something. He gave me material that a lot of people wouldn’t have given a Latin American actor. I thank him for that, and I learned a lot from him.
“Miniseries and TV shows are challenging as there’s a lot to tackle, a lot to take in, and a lot of stories to tell. If it’s not the right character, you can be in trouble, so I always gravitate more towards movies. But in Andor, I love my character. I fell in love with my character, and I could tell you about it for another ten hours. I got lucky in that sense.”
In addition to Good Omens, you were in some fantastic television shows such as Narcos and True Detective. Both of which are known for building a fantastic world. Who has the better crafts table: Netflix or HBO?
Oh, don’t ask me that! They both employ me all the time, and I can’t answer that! I think they are both incredible. They have a wide range of content and materials. I literally just worked with HBO and I love them over there. I also love the Netflix family. They have both been such good homes, and they’ve been so kind, nice, and welcoming to me that I wouldn’t be able to answer this both as a consumer and as an actor.
With your experience in both movies and miniseries, do you prefer the storytelling of one method over another?
I think they’re both great and very different. For example, I like the fact that you get to tell a story from beginning to end in an hour or two hours with movies, but I also really like exploring the method of a mini series through multiple seasons. I haven’t done that yet, as opposed to a miniseries where you only have like six or eight hours to really explore this character and tell the journey of this character. Both have their own challenges, but I always gravitate a little bit more towards movies. Miniseries and TV shows are challenging as there’s a lot to tackle, a lot to take in, and a lot of stories to tell. If it’s not the right character, you can be in trouble, so I always gravitate more towards movies. But in Andor, I love my character. I fell in love with my character, and I could tell you about it for another ten hours. I got lucky in that sense. Even if you put theater into the equation, that is completely different as well. You have the reinforcement of your audience, and you get the applause right then and there. I think they’re all different, and I like to play with all of them!
“We supported ourselves on the script, and Jared also set the tone for us and was in character the entire time. It was hard work, but it was so incredibly rewarding when you step back and you go, “holy shit, we are in a Marvel movie, the whole world’s going to watch this.” But if you go into a Marvel movie saying this to yourself, I mean, it’s just a lot of pressure. I don’t know how people do that.”
You star alongside Jared Leto as the female lead in Marvel’s Morbius. Are you prepared to be enshrined in Marvel history and lore?
I was really excited. I remember being so nervous but also so eager to work with the director, talking to Jared, and jumping in with the writers. All I wanted was to get started! I was like, “I can’t have a month of me waiting to be on set.” That was honestly horrible, because you just want to get there. Daniel did such a good job of making us forget that it was a Marvel movie. He kept reminding us that it was just a movie and that a lot of people are going to watch it, but to not focus only on that, so we could just tell the best version of the story. I really enjoyed that. There was no pressure. We supported ourselves on the script, and Jared also set the tone for us and was in character the entire time. It was hard work, but it was so incredibly rewarding when you step back and you go, “holy shit, we are in a Marvel movie, the whole world’s going to watch this.” But if you go into a Marvel movie saying this to yourself, I mean, it’s just a lot of pressure. I don’t know how people do that. April 1st. I’m ready. I can’t wait to share this with the world. I think we’ve all waited so long that I just want people to share it.
Morbius has always been an enigma in the Marvel Universe, appearing as both a villain and a hero. As Martine, do you bring out the hero or villain in Morbius?
I would say I would bring out the hero in Morbius. I think Martine is the compass of good. Morbius is battling through something that I think a lot of us forget: we battle with ourselves. Like Jekyll and Hyde, we all have a good side, and we all have a bad side. Morbius is battling through it, and I think Martine is extremely helpful, supportive, and loyal to him. She is willing to help him and really still believes that inside of all of this, a great Dr. Morbius still exists.
Besides Marvel, you are set to be part of the Star Wars universe as well. Congratulations on Andor. How do you unwind when you have a break between movies and TV shows?
I don’t! I don’t like to! People who know me know that I love what I do so much that I want to keep doing it. Whether it’s developing other movies, whether it’s talking about movies, talking about shows, watching or consuming, I’m always sort of on in that sense. I really enjoy what I am doing! I don’t tend to do masks or relax as much as people suggest I should, because my job and being on set is nerve-wracking but also incredibly rewarding. But if I were to say what I do to relax, I really like being in nature. I like adventure. I really love to skydive, and I have really gotten into surfing lately. As long as I’m surrounded by nature, I can really relax. I’m also a big fan of boxing, I box like four times a week. That’s my little thing I do. If I don’t have time to do that, I’ll go for a run. I think running is where I create and escape from reality for a little bit. I do it on a treadmill though, because I would run to another planet if I were on the street. It would be a hazard!
You also have a remake of Father of the Bride due out soon with Andy Garcia. What was it like to give a spin to a Hollywood classic?
It was amazing, and I love the spin we took on it. It was a Latin American/Latinx version of the film, and what I loved about the movie is that we see two different cultures clash, and they’re both Latin American. I’ve heard multiple times “oh you’re Mexican” and I correct them by saying I’m Puerto Rican and Guatemalan, but they respond by saying “oh, so you’re Mexican.” It’s incredibly frustrating sometimes, and I think this movie really shows the differences between Latin American cultures. I’m just eager and excited for the movie to come out and to share it. It was so much fun making it. We had Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, Diego Boneta, Isabela Merced, and it was just a really great group of people. We all fell in love with each other. We were like a little family, and they were even over at my house last Monday. It was really nice, and we are all still in touch!
Bryce Scarlett/The Wall Group
Cedric Jolivet/The Wall Group
Vanessa McCullough/Forward Artists
Peter C.Yeh, The Lede Company
With roots in Puerto Rico and Central America, where is home for you right now?
I currently live in Los Angeles, but I feel at home wherever I am with my mother. I filmed in Atlanta, and I was in London for five or six months shooting Andor, and as long as I have my people around, I can make a home anywhere. I think growing up, I traveled so much, and I bounced from here to there, that I’m used to this gypsy way of living, and I like it. Now I feel strange if I stay too long in one place.
Travel restrictions across the world are being loosened after COVID. Where do you want to vacation and why?
I really want to go to Portugal this year… I’m not sure why! I just finished filming Irma Vep with Alicia Vikander, and she just spoke so highly of Portugal. She was showing me pictures, and I was like, “I really need to go there.” Another place that I want to visit, which is probably one of my favorite countries in the world, is Japan. I have been before, but I just feel like that country is so magical and so full of life, and I know that there’s so much more that I have to see.
Morbius now showing in theaters worldwide. Watch the trailer below:
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