Jhonattan Ardila fell in love with acting when he first stepped onto a film set. At the time, he had just responded to an ad seeking advertisement for the latest X-Men movie, but it was a serendipitous moment for the native Colombian. He knew he was meant to become an actor, and immediately set his sights on going from an extra to a star. Now, Ardila is living that dream as an internationally sought-after actor.
“I love being able to take on different characters. People spend their lives suppressing parts of their being for social standards or wondering what life would be like under different circumstances. I get to do that for a living. This is a career that takes one to so many places mentally and physically. Days are never the same, always spontaneous and a fluid way of spending life, something I enjoy to the fullest. Additionally, we have the power to change so many people’s lives with what and how we represent them,” says Ardila.
Ardila is known for his ability to embody his character, giving meaning to the stories he is telling. His work on his 2019 award-winning film Dreams exemplifies this, where Ardila took on the challenging role of a troubled inner-city immigrant and shed light on the truth millions face in America. He has starred in countless renowned productions alongside the industry’s top talent, including Amazon’s hit show Reacher, the award-winning drama In the Shadow of the Moon with Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, and Kitty Mamas, led by Dennis Nicholson, one of Canada’s most successful directors and producers.
“I have witnessed Jhonattan’s incredible work firsthand when we worked together on the feel-good comedy film production Kitty Mamas. Jhonattan demonstrated a delicate performance of the critical leading role of Officer Martinez, who gives and serves the film with a necessary grounding character but also plays as a love interest to one of the main characters. The production balances both a surreal comedy and drama that face serious societal issues, given the women’s character backgrounds. With his prior experience with law enforcement training, weapons training, and as a stunt actor, he phenomenally adds a compelling performance aspect to the film. Jhonattan’s sought-after combinations of acting skills were invaluable to the success of the film,” says Nicholson.
Ardila knows how to captivate an audience even with just his voice, evident with his work on the video game Far Cry 6. Far Cry is one of the most successful video game franchises in the world, and Far Cry 6 has been widely viewed as the best of the entire franchise. It has been distributed worldwide over multiple platforms. Far Cry 6 welcomes players to Yara, a tropical paradise frozen in time. As the dictator of Yara, Antón Castillo is intent on restoring his nation back to its former glory by any means, with his son, Diego, following in his bloody footsteps. Their ruthless oppression has ignited a revolution.
“While the story of the game takes place in a fictional place and characters are obviously fictional, there are a lot of honest truths that inspire the fictional creation. Being a Latino story and almost fully Latino cast, I was quickly able to relate to the story and find the human truths behind them. At one point, the game had so many cultural references that I felt like this was being shot inside my childhood home,” says Ardila.
Ardila played the role of Benito Martine, a fisherman caught in the middle of the civil war in Yara. Benito was part of the resistance and a key part of the group that would try to bring down the evil Anton Castillo. When the players see him, he has to guide them through several stages and missions of the game. Completion of these missions are necessary to continue moving forward.
The project consists of a huge ensemble cast that required almost two years to complete. Ardila is fully fluent in Spanish and English while having Motion Capture and Stunt Actor Experience. He knows Ubisoft’s system and has experience with the process of acting for video games with this being his second role in a video game after 2020’s Watch Dogs: Legions. Ubisoft and the creators of the game were adamant about making sure the game played like a movie, wanting honesty and reality played through the characters. Ardila made sure that this character was grounded and that he played him as humanly as possible even in such an unusual setting.
“It is interesting to work on these types of projects because it lets our artistic minds work with the utmost freedom which I thoroughly enjoy. Although there are parameters in the story that we have to honor, it is refreshing to be able to just play with a blank canvas in the motion capture world. We would show up to set and get the “setting” and scenes we were playing in. On set, there is minimal furniture or tangible elements to use, almost all of it is playing with the blank space and our scene partners,” he describes.
As a gamer himself, Ardila loved being part of such an iconic franchise that also had such a meaningful story so rooted in Latino culture. If you have not yet had a chance to play Far Cry 6 and explore this stunning story, be sure to do so and check out Ardila as Benito.
Photo by Hayley Andoff