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Edgar Ramírez: Jungle Cruise is “basically a board game”

The villainous lead explains how making the Disney film was like being on the playground

In the new Disney movie Jungle Cruise, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt explore the Amazon for an all-healing plant. Not only do they have the jungle itself to contend with, but some villainous creatures that lurk within.

One of their adversaries is Aguirre, played by Edgar Ramírez. Having starred in the likes of Zero Dark Thirty and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Ramírez is no stranger to major Hollywood productions, and he’s got more on the horizon. More special effects-heavy than his previous roles, Jungle Cruise offers a new side to the Venezuelan actor.

We got the chance to have a quick chat with him on the back of the action movie. We talked the inspirations for his performance, working with Dwayne Johnson, and what we can expect from his performance as Atlas in the Borderlands movie. Though our time was brief, Ramírez gave insightful answers, and spoke to why he loves acting so much, Johnson’s encouraging smile, and gave us the slightest of hint about his Atlas.

TDF: Your character in Jungle Cruise is quite horrifying – what villains or monsters inspired your portrayal?

Edgar Ramírez: I don’t see my character as a monster, so I wasn’t inspired by any of them, you know. I think it would be a mistake for a monster to think he’s a monster. That’s not how he operates, he’s a monster to the others, but not to himself. He’s got his own very valid reasons to behave in the way that he does, and that’s why in this fun adventure, each character has their own inner conflict, and their own valid reasons to do what they do.

This movie is basically a board game, where everyone is going after ‘that thing’. You have setbacks, and you go three squares forward, but then you get pushed back ten squares, I love that feeling in the movie. We’re pieces on the board, and we’re just trying to get to the goal, everyone wants the same thing, for different reasons.

As I was telling you before, my character turns into, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, there’s things that happen that make me behave in ways that, of course, I didn’t want to, but I had to.

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You and Dwayne Johnson’s character have a deep connection in the film, and you have a long scene together in the second act. Can you tell me about collaborating with him?

Yeah, it was beautiful, to work with Dwayne is everything that you would imagine that it is. He strongly believes in collaboration, he’s a very compassionate guy, he’s very nice, he’s always offering a smile, to you and to everyone else. He’s a true leader, and it was really nice to work with him, I really grew very fond of him, he’s a very nice person.

We were really playing, that’s the thing. This is one of those movies that, regardless of how big and the scope of the film, we were really kids playing, because the whole process invited you to get immersed in the magic of making movies. It was very relaxed, and you saw it, it’s gigantic, and it was a lot of work, but quite honestly, all my memories are of going to the playground with my friends and just dreaming of characters.

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Dreaming of this and dreaming of that, and I really enjoyed that. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that my work gives me to foster and protect my inner child, and I invite him to play every time. I really like that about my job, and this movie was the perfect example of a beautiful playground

We’re going to see you next year as Atlas for the Borderlands movie, is there anything you can tell us about the character and the movie?

All I can say for now is that he’s the most powerful man in the universe, and that he is going to have a lot of fun, and I hope that you will too.

Jungle Cruise opens in theatres and will be available on Disney Plus Premier Access July 30.