Hit Man’s Adria Arjona Is Stepping Into the Leading Lady Spotlight As Madison

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Hit Man’s Adria Arjona Is Stepping Into the Leading Lady Spotlight As Madison


Good people may do bad things, but that doesn’t make them bad people. Or does it? That’s the philosophical crux at the center of the movie Hit Man, now playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix June 7. 

Part neo-noir, part sexy thriller, part riotous comedy, the film follows Gary Johnson (Glen Powell), a square, straight-laced professor who stumbles into an unexpected side gig: fake hit man. As his double life deepens, he becomes entangled with an attractive, alluring woman named Madison (Adria Arjona) who’s seeking to hire one of Gary’s assassin alter egos — the ruggedly mysterious Ron — to kill her abusive husband. 

“What drew me [to Madison] was she’s so exciting, and I couldn’t tell while reading [the script] what she was going to do next,” Arjona, 32, tells Refinery29 Somos. “I was confused on where it was going with her. I love that element because I was like, ‘I’m going to have so much fun playing this.’”

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Mexico City and Miami, from an early age Arjona was familiar with the life of an entertainer. Her mother, Leslie Torres, is Puerto Rican, and her father is the acclaimed Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona. As a child, she traveled often to join him on his tours. 

“What drew me [to Madison] was she’s so exciting, and I couldn’t tell while reading [the script] what she was going to do next.”

Adria Arjona

“My dad’s a musician, so I sort of grew up all over Latin America,” Arjona says. “I lived in Mexico City for a very long time and my father’s Guatemalan, so I jumped from country to country. [My upbringing was] like a big melting pot of these three countries, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Growing up in a large family across various locales meant “a lot of mixed traditions,” but one that stands out is having a big holiday meal without so much as a single spoon in sight. 

“Oh, with my father as a kid, we would have no cutlery on New Year’s, and it was my favorite,” Arjona says. “It still is my favorite. You use your hands, you’re eating the turkey — like ripping the turkey — and it just makes it so fun because it’s such a fancy dinner, yet you’re using your hands. It’s very much my family.”

By 18, Arjona moved to New York City to study acting, eventually landing roles on shows like Narcos, True Detective, and Emerald City. In 2022, she starred in the HBO Max remake of Father of the Bride alongside Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, and Isabela Merced.

“I sort of grew up all over Latin America.”

ADRIA ARJONA

Hit Man marks Arjona’s foray into leading lady territory, and there was an instant connection to the material, she explains. “The first time I read it, I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.” 

Getting to know Powell — who co-wrote the film alongside director Richard Linklater — helped solidify her interest in the project. 

“Then meeting Glen and meeting Rick, I was like, man, I want to spend a month or two with these people,” she says. “And they allowed me to be part of the creative process.”

As Powell recalls, Arjona dove into the role not just in terms of her on-screen performance, but behind the scenes, too. She was involved in such a way that helped bring a certain heft, honesty, and dimensionality to the character of Madison. 

“Look, she’s obviously a talent in front of the camera, but I think what was really impressive is how effortlessly she became such a crucial part of the writer’s room,” Powell, 35, says. “It’s such a loss when filmmakers don’t listen to great minds and actors. These people are going to have to play these roles, and it was so clear that Adria was coming in with such a strong perspective and one that was going to make this movie cook in a different way.” 

“She’s obviously a talent in front of the camera, but I think what was really impressive is how effortlessly she became such a crucial part of the writer’s room.”

Glen Powell

Indeed, Madison and Ron/Gary make for a new kind of compelling on-screen couple. While their relationship is initially based on criminality and deceit — and as such, audiences probably shouldn’t necessarily root for them — as the movie transpires, it becomes increasingly difficult not to. 

And that’s thanks in large part to a sizable serving of sizzling chemistry between the two leads. Despite the questionable morals and motives of Madison and Ron/Gary, they have an undeniably magnetic connection. It just so happens to flourish in the wildest (and most illegal) of circumstances possible.  

After all, the heart wants what it wants.

“I felt like the chemistry was always there, [and] we always knew she was a multidimensional actress,” Powell says. “But [she’s also] being a sort of writer, producerial brain, one that really understood film and what was going to work on camera and make this character, which is the linchpin for the whole movie. I mean, Rick and I very quickly looked at each other and were just like, ‘let her show us where this thing is going,’ and I’m really glad we did.”

“We were able to create Madison, make her three dimensional, and make her very me, in certain ways.”

Adria arjona

Arjona’s vision for the character is rooted in her inherent complexity. She’s not just a woman who’s been hurt and scorned — she’s also a woman who’s had enough. However misguided Madison’s search for so-called solutions or a way out may be, it’s evident that she’s downright desperate and in a hopelessly untenable situation.

“We were able to create Madison, make her three dimensional, and make her very me, in certain ways,” Arjona says. “We really had fun with that character. It was always intellectual challenges that we would have between three brains, but even that was so much fun and it’s something I miss dearly.”

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