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In 'Hit Man,' Adria Arjona found the role of a lifetime

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In 'Hit Man,' Adria Arjona found the role of a lifetime

Adria Arjona went skydiving to get over the heartbreak of missing out on a coveted role.

“It’s a little extreme, but it worked,” Arjona, 32, says on the phone days before the crime-fueled romantic comedy “Hit Man” debuted Friday on Netflix. “While I was on the plane, I thought, ‘I’m going to leave all this negativity [here]. I’m going to jump off, ground myself and completely forget about it. What’s up in the air doesn’t belong to me anymore.’ ”

With “Hit Man,” the actor has certainly landed on her feet. The critically acclaimed crowd-pleaser is the latest from prolific Texan director Richard Linklater and has already become a breakthrough project for Arjona’s rising profile in Hollywood.

“I find her amazing,” said Linklater, describing Arjona as a “wonderfully smart and hard-working collaborator from the first rehearsal until her last shot of production.”

In the film, Glen Powell plays a psychology professor who works for a police department undercover, pretending to be a killer for hire. Arjona plays Madison, who seeks out his services to eliminate her abusive husband. The two become entangled in a high-stakes, morally complicated, fiery relationship.

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The daughter of famed Guatemalan singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona, she was born in Puerto Rico to a Boricua mother but spent her childhood in Mexico City when not on the road with her touring father.

The chemistry is palpable between Madison (Adria Arjona) and Gary (Glen Powell) in “Hit Man.”

(Brian Roedel / Netflix)

“It’s a funny little debate that happens online,” Arjona says. “Everyone is like, ‘She’s Guatemalan’ or ‘She’s Puerto Rican,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m very much both and I carry my two flags very high up. I can’t pick.”

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Despite growing up around music, Arjona was never inclined to follow in her father’s footsteps. “I can’t sing! I would’ve embarrassed our last name,” she said, jokingly.

“I’ve always thought my dad’s job is coolest job in the world, but I wanted to do something different. I rebelled against music, and got away from it. If I’m honest with you, it’s a pretty big regret of mine now.”

As a teenager, Arjona’s family relocated to Miami. Struggling to adjust to her new environment, she began taking acting classes on her father’s suggestion. Performing, she says, helped her come out of her shell.

“If I don’t hide behind a character, it’s really hard for me to perform or be the center of attention,” she said. “I feel comfortable putting on a costume and being on stage, but I could never, and I still can’t speak in public. I had to give a speech for Glen a couple of weeks ago when we were in Austin, and I was trembling like a chihuahua.”

As an adult, Arjona moved to New York to study at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, working as a waitress to pay her bills.

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“I feel really lucky that I have a father who gave me the biggest gift in the world, which is not giving it all to me. He made that a point in raising me and my siblings,” she said. “He grew up really poor in Guatemala and he had to work to get to where he is.”

Arjona initially tried to break into theater but felt there wasn’t much space for a Latin American actress. She decided to try her luck in film and television instead, landing a small part after her first audition. Over the last decade, Arjona has built up her resume by landing parts in high-profile productions.

Adria Arjona

(Brian Bowen Smith / Netflix)

Among her most notable films are the Netflix action movies “6 Underground” and “Triple Frontier” — in the latter, she shared the screen with another actor with Guatemalan roots, Oscar Isaac. Arjona was also cast as bride-to-be Sofia Herrera in the 2022 Latino remake of “Father of the Bride” and portrays mechanic Bix Caleen in “Star Wars: Andor.”

“Getting the jobs wasn’t hard, but it was getting the roles that really served me as an actress that’s been the struggle,” she said. “I want to show the world that a Latin American woman has so many dimensions and we can be so many things.”

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Arjona says she is now at the point in her career where she is being offered opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten a few years back. She recalls Linklater telling her she was the only person he spoke to for the role of Madison in “Hit Man.”

“We were nervous because Madison demanded so many qualities in one person,” said Linklater. “Smart, funny, vivacious, mysterious, and of course so smoking hot you’d totally believe somebody would risk everything they had and had worked for all their life, including their potential freedom, just to be with. Adria is all those things.”

After meeting Arjona over video call, the filmmaker arranged for her to connect with Powell, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The two actors got along so well that by the end of their five-hour dinner, they had broken their “dry January” vows by drinking tequila.

“Glen was like, ‘Can we please do this together? I want you to be Madison,” she said.

Within days Arjona was on Zoom with Linklater and Powell writing Madison’s part.

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“That’s how Rick works. He invites the actors into the collaborative process and you’re in the writer’s room with him and you’re creating your character with your director, and your co-star. You’re writing lines, you’re pitching ideas,” she said. “That’s never happened to me.”

The process gave Arjona a creative autonomy and ownership over her character that she believes were crucial for her to craft and ultimately understand Madison’s personality.

Adria Arjona and Glen Powell flirt with each other in a bar scene in "Hit Man"

“I loved the idea that she was constantly role-playing,” says Adria Arjona of her character, Madison, in “Hit Man.” In a scene with Glen Powell as Gary.

(Brian Roedel / Netflix)

“I loved the idea that she was constantly role-playing. She’s this woman that is seeking reinvention at every turn of the page. She’s her own idea of a femme fatale, but she’s not a femme fatale,” Arjona said. “She’s playing a character within being a character. And that I found really interesting and had a lot of fun playing that.”

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For Arjona, “Hit Man” represented an opportunity to truly show off her acting chops.

“Thanks to this movie I feel just so much more confident of what I can bring to the table,” she says. “Rick and Glen did that for me.”

And what’s next? Arjona is slated to star in “El Sobreron,” the new genre tale from Guatemalan auteur Jairo Bustamante. Later this year, she can also be seen in the thriller “Blink Twice,” opposite Channing Tatum. Her strategy of not having a set plan seems to be paying off for her, successfully avoiding being pigeonholed by an industry that still has a limited view of who Latinos are.

“I’m so much more than where I was born. I have it in my veins. I carry that with me proudly, but I’m also a human,” she said. “You are your experiences, and being a Latina is definitely part of my experience, but there’s also a lot more. I’m just a woman.”

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'America's Got Talent' breaks an unlikely underwear world record on final audition night

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'America's Got Talent' breaks an unlikely underwear world record on final audition night

We see London, we see France, we see — the “America’s Got Talent” audience’s underpants?

“AGT” broke a Guinness World Record in the episode that aired Tuesday night: the record for the most people wearing underwear on their heads for at least one minute.

Nicolas “Nick” Manning, a contestant from Australia, came on “AGT” initially intending to break the record for the most pairs of underwear pulled on, one pair at a time, in 30 seconds.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to be the best in the world at something,” Manning told the crowd.

The current record is 23 pairs in 30 seconds, which Manning set last July. In his attempt to beat his own record, he planned for the 24th to be a golden pair of undies.

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“So we are going for the gold in the year of the Olympics,” celebrity judge Howie Mandel said.

The crowd cheered him on in his attempt, but Manning ultimately fell short of a new record by two pairs. But he didn’t end the night there; he wanted to attempt to break another world record, one that would include the audience, judges and stage crew.

“There is a record for most people gathered in one place wearing underwear on their heads,” Manning told the crowd. The record was 355 participants.

The underwear had to be donned for a full minute, with a Guinness judge there to supervise. So all at once, the audience and judges, plus host Terry Crews, pulled out white underwear and put it on their heads. Crews even led the crowd in a chant to make judge Simon Cowell put underwear on his head as well. (He reluctantly obliged.)

More than 1,200 people participated. The room erupted in cheers upon hearing the total, but audience members soon had their underpants in a twist over the judges’ reactions to Manning’s audition.

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“I understand that a lot of people are very fascinated about those records. I for some reason, don’t really care about seeing them happen, so I didn’t love it,” judge Sofia Vergara said.

“Well, he failed on the first one, succeeded on the second one,” Cowell said. “But it didn’t feel that it was very difficult to break that record, if I’m being honest.”

So it was a “no” from all four judges, including Heidi Klum, and Manning failed to advance in the competition. But he had great support from the crowd as he exited the stage.

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DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE Review

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DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE Review
(PaPa, C, B, H, LLL, VVV, SS, N, A, DD, M):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:

Strong pagan, slightly mixed, irreverent, often lawless worldview, but the movie’s premise has a solid redemptive, moral aspect to it where the main character wants to make a difference, save his friends, be a hero, and defeat two power-mad villains, and sacrifice ultimately solves the movie’s plot problem, and this is overtly referred to in the dialogue, plus the movie takes place in a humanist multiverse, though the movie appears to acknowledge the monotheistic idea that there are ultimate values that transcend the individual multiverses (thus, for example, Deadpool truly does want to be the kind of hero that his girlfriend wants him to be);

Foul Language:

At least 139 obscenities (including many “f” and “s” words), one possible Jesus profanity, seven GD profanities, and 13 light profanities;

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Violence:

Lots of extreme and even bloody and well as strong violence includes Wolverine gets really mad at Deadpool two or three times, and they fight and try to kill each other even though the bodies of both men have regenerative power, lots of stabbing from Wolverine’s claws and Deadpool’s swords against each other and against bad guys, Deadpool decimates a bunch of Time Variance Authority soldiers with bones from a skeleton that have been infused with unbreakable adamantine steel, some explosions, a villain is able to infiltrate and control the minds of other people (this is depicted as if one of the villain’s hands is poking through the person’s head – there’s no blood, the action seems to be more metaphorical or taking place on a non-physical plane), explosions, gunfights, people are shot multiple times (for example, both Deadpool and another character shoot Wolverine multiple times in two plot twists), and-to-hand combat, villain with telekinetic powers kills one character by ripping his skin away, and people go flying during the movie’s many fight scenes;

Sex:

No sex scenes but the dialogue has a smattering of crude sex jokes, including a joke about a Boy Scout leader exposing himself;

Nudity:

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Brief upper male nudity;

Alcohol Use:

Some alcohol use;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:

No smoking, but an older side character enjoys cocaine, and there are jokes about her cocaine use, though it’s never depicted; and,

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Miscellaneous Immorality:

Deadpool lies to Wolverine about an important matter, but Wolverine eventually forgives him and accepts Deadpool’s perspective on why his lie wasn’t really a lie.

In DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE, Deadpool wants to make a positive difference in the universe to regain the love of Vanessa and teams up with a reluctant Wolverine to stop a power-mad bureaucrat from the Time Variance Authority who’s trying to destroy Deadpool’s universe. DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE takes the crude language and extreme violence in the first two Deadpool movies to new depths of degradation, which ultimately overwhelms the movie’s redemptive heroic premise and dilutes the movie’s enjoyment level.

In the story, Wade Wilson aka wants to regain the love of his girlfriend, Vanessa, to become a true hero. However, The Avengers turn him down, so he stops using his Deadpool identity altogether and just enjoys being with his friends, including Vanessa. He still wants to get back with her though, but she nixes the idea.

Two years later or so, a power-mad bureaucrat from the Time Variance Authority (TVA), calling himself Mr. Paradox, picks up Wade. Paradox thinks Wade has matured enough to be a hero. He wants Wade’s help for a special assignment. Wade is gung ho and gets Paradox to build him a new Deadpool suit. However, he rebels against Paradox when he discovers that Paradox is trying to destroy Wade’s universe, including Vanessa and his friends. Apparently, the death of Logan, aka Wolverine of the X-Men, in Wade’s universe has set off a chain of events that will lead to the universe’s destruction sometime in the future anyway. So, Paradox decides why wait for all that pain and misery to develop? Why not just destroy Wade’s universe now?

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A fight occurs Paradox’s offices. Wearing his Deadpool suit, Wade manages to escape in one of the TVA’s multiverse time travel portals. Deadpool travels back to Wolverine’s burial place to revive him. Things don’t go according to plan, and Deadpool finds a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. He eventually figures a way around it, but only to find another obstacle. Wolverine is not interested in stopping Mr. Paradox, and certainly not to work with Deadpool, whom he loathes.

Even when Wolverine finally reluctantly agrees to help, he and Deadpool encounter the biggest obstacle of all, a new, even more powerful villain. This villain wants to destroy the whole multiverse except for one area.

Can Deadpool and Wolverine stop this new villain and Mr. Paradox too? Can Deadpool save his own universe? Will Deadpool stop his incessant talking?

Except for some exposition, the jokes and action in DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE don’t stop. The movie also has some surprising, funny cameos. However, the movie takes the crude language and extreme violence in the first two Deadpool movies to new levels, or depths.

For example, Wolverine gets really mad at Deadpool at least twice. They fight and try to kill each other, with Wolverine stabbing Deadpool repeatedly with his claws, and Deadpool stabbing Wolverine repeatedly with his samurai swords. As fans of the two characters know, the bodies of both men have regenerative powers, so these scenes seem to go on forever with no resolution. In another long scene, Deadpool slices and dices multiple TVA policemen. Also, in a third long scene, Deadpool and Wolverine wade through a horde of assailants together. The brutality of the violence is clearly too extreme.

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The number of obscenities in DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE has also sunk to new “heights,” going well over 100 to about 140 or more. There’s also some strong lewd dialogue, including a joke about a Boy Scout leader exposing himself. Unlike the first DEADPOOL movie, however, this third movie has no explicit sex scenes or nudity.

Ultimately, the brutality of the violence and the amount of obscene language in DEADPOOL & WOLVERINE dilutes the enjoyment of the story. It also overwhelms the movie’s redemptive ending. Shock for shock’s sake is a flawed concept that ultimately turns off more people than it attracts.

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Activision Blizzard's ‘World of Warcraft’ game developers vote to unionize

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Activision Blizzard's ‘World of Warcraft’ game developers vote to unionize

The more than 500 game developers at Blizzard Entertainment who work on the blockbuster video game “World of Warcraft” have elected to form a union, marking the latest entrant in a wave of unionizing efforts in the video game industry.

Three hundred workers cast votes in favor of joining the Communications Workers of America Local 9510, according to a ballot count conducted Wednesday by a third-party arbitrator, the union said. Eighteen voted “no.” Microsoft-owned Blizzard Entertainment has recognized the union.

Employees are seeking to address issues such as hours, pay, transparency around promotions, remote work and layoff protections, said Eric Lanham, a test analyst who has worked at Blizzard Entertainment for about nine years and is a member of the union’s organizing committee.

“The decision by workers on World of Warcraft to form a union marks a key inflection point in the broader movement for game worker organizing industry-wide,” Tom Smith, CWA’s senior director of organizing, said in a statement. “What seemed impossible six years ago is now a reality.”

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The newly unionized workers on the “World of Warcraft” development team are largely based in Irvine, where Blizzard Entertainment’s campus is located, as well as in Massachusetts. The unit includes designers, engineers, producers, artists, quality assurance testers and other game developers.

Lanham said he and his family have been impacted by his mandatory overtime hours, making it difficult to spend time with his child. As a test analyst, Lanham earns about $55,000 annually, pay that he says is far below that of competitors.

“To live in Irvine costs a significant amount,” he said. “We don’t earn enough.”

Blizzard Entertainment is a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, the largest game company in the Americas.

Activision Blizzard was created in 2008 when Santa Monica-based Activision merged with the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment. Activision Blizzard is known for successful titles such as “Call of Duty,” “Warcraft,” “Overwatch,” “Hearthstone” and “Candy Crush.” It was acquired in 2023 by tech giant Microsoft Corp.

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The video gaming giant had a total employee count of 13,000 as of December 2022, according to its last annual report.

The worker election did not have to go through the typical process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board because Microsoft pledged to take a neutral stance toward workers who sought to form a union.

Microsoft’s pledge, unusual among largely nonunionized tech giants, could pave the way for thousands of additional workers to more easily unionize. Already, more than 1,750 video game workers who work for Microsoft have joined CWA.

“We continue to support our employees’ right to choose how they are represented in the workplace,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. “We will engage in good faith negotiations with the CWA as we work towards a collective bargaining agreement.”

In recent years, video game workers across the industry have increasingly pushed back against their working conditions, including temporary contracts with limited job security and intense pushes to meet game deadlines. The industry has also recently been roiled by layoffs and dissent from workers over the use of artificial intelligence in their work.

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Earlier this year, Microsoft said it would lay off 1,900 employees at Activision Blizzard and Xbox. Wired reported this week that to fill the gap of a reduced workforce, some Activision Blizzard concept artists were forced to use AI to aid in their work producing 2D images.

Paul Cox, a senior quest designer at Blizzard Entertainment who crafts the story that takes place in the narrative behind “World of Warcraft,” said that as industrywide layoffs ramped up, “it started to feel like we were lines on a spreadsheet, where people we can’t see are making decisions for us.”

“We want to make sure our voice has equal standing,” he said.

In May 2022, video game testers at Activision Blizzard’s Raven Software subsidiary voted to form a union with Communications Workers of America — a first for a U.S.-based game company — after going on strike for weeks.

Wednesday’s announcement by “World of Warcraft” workers also comes on the heels of a successful union vote by artists, engineers, programmers and designers at another Microsoft-owned studio. Last week, some 240 workers at Maryland-based Bethesda Game Studios, the company behind “The Elder Scrolls” and the “Fallout” series, signed union cards or otherwise indicated their support for the union in a tally.

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