If Ana de Armas and Chris Evans had any sort of actor meet cute, it would have been on the set of 2019's Knives Out, in which they played antagonists. (Her: An altruistic nurse, him: an arrogant trust-funder.) They reunited a few years after that for The Gray Man, in which they played antagonists again. (Her: A faithful CIA agent, him: a sociopathic mercenary.) Ghosted, the new action-heavy rom-com from director Dexter Fletcher, marks the first time the stars have played proper love interests.
So, do you do a chemistry test to make sure the chemistry is there?
"With Chris Evans and Ana de Armas?" Fletcher balks. "I understand the question, but the short answer is no."
In Ghosted, Evans plays the hopelessly romantic Cole, who meets cute with Sadie (de Armas) while manning his family's stand at the local farmer's market. After a night together that is the stuff of, well, rom-coms, Cole is dismayed when Sadie doesn't respond to any of his many texts. In a last-ditch grand romantic gesture, he tracks her down in London, where he discovers she's actually a CIA super-spy.
"No, I didn't do a chemistry test. I think they would've laughed at me if I'd suggested that," Fletcher tells A.frame. "I knew they were great friends. You see them together, you'll get it. They're laughing about things — I don't even know what they're laughing about! There's some private joke going on between those two that the rest of us just don't get. They're sitting in a corner doing impressions of police cars driving by." He laughs, "They're very strange people. They're very weird."
Evans wasn't originally meant to be ghosted by de Armas. The movie was set up to reunite him with his Avengers co-star, Scarlett Johansson, who had to drop out due to scheduling. "Chris was really quick to say, 'Ana de Armas.' We both were, and he was like, 'Great, I'm going to call her,'" the director recalls.
"Ana brings the intensity that she brings, and she's had little chance to really show that" — only briefly in the most recent Bond movie, No Time to Die — "and she's a great dramatic actress. Nominated for an Academy Award, for goodness sake! You don't get better than that."
With Evans, Ghosted was an opportunity to subvert his image as Captain America.
"I've always loved Chris, and I think that there's a great untapped talent there. I know he's funny from films that I've seen of him before — very early on in his career that shall remain nameless — but I believe he's funny," Fletcher says. As an everyman thrust into the world of international espionage, Evans was keen to be as inept as possible. "And I think people are still expecting him to click in. 'When's he going to get the shield out? When's he going to fly out the window?'"
"He is a hero in this movie. He's just a different kind of hero," Fletcher explains. "He's a romantic hero. He's a hero of romance and showing his emotions, and expressing them and following his heart, whereas, she's a hero of action. Normally, that's the other way around."
In that way, Ghosted is like a gender-reversed True Lies or Knight and Day, but with more jokes about how many emojis is it socially acceptable to send after a first date. "Funny is one thing, but fun's another," says the director. "I think the movie has fun in it, because Chris and Ana are really appreciating each other's work, as well as working together. That translates to the film."
Behind the scenes, Fletcher's own love story found a happily ever after. Ghosted marks the first movie he and his wife, Lithuanian opera director Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, worked on together. (She was a co-producer on the film.) "We met 30 years ago working in the theater. She was directing and I was acting, and our careers took different paths after that," he reflects.
"She started directing opera and producing opera around the world and eventually started her own opera company in Vilnius. I carried on my acting and then started directing," Fletcher says. "But we always talked about how we could combine our work. Now the bigger the scale became of the films that I was directing, the more I would turn to her and talk at night or lean on her experience and her ideas, and have discussions with her as my closest and trusted collaborator. So this seemed like the next logical step."
"It's really fantastic, and it's complicated. And I drive her crazy. I'm frustrating because she's vastly more experienced than I am and she's levelheaded, and I'm very much instinct, and run around, and pull resources out of the air. I think she finds that kind of crazy, and funny, and brilliant. And so, it was a really, really good experience." He grins conspiratorially, "People love her more than they love me. It's hard to believe — I know — but I think it's a sad truth that I'll just have to face up to. She's brilliant. I'm very lucky."