HANDS OF GOLD. The 2010s has proven to be Édgar Ramírez’ golden era, and today he’s well on his way to add a couple more box office hits before the year’s over
Hollywood stars come from all sorts of backgrounds—from prodigies who’ve been acting since grade school and then went on to study in some of the most prestigious film academies to untrained rookies who were discovered while driving somebody else to audition. And then there’s the story of Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez.
While his isn’t exactly among the most unexpected “rise to fame” tales, it is certainly unique. Long before he knew how to speak in front of a camera, he already knew how to speak five languages, which suited his original intention of becoming an international diplomat.
His passion for performance arts was always there, though, but it would seem that he never considered it as a professional choice. Once, he even passed on the chance to star in a movie by legendary director Alejandro González Iñárritu as he wanted to focus on his studies. Still, the acting bug returned and bit him hard.
Ramírez finally made a name for himself in 2003 via “Cosita Rica,” a Venezuelan soap opera or telenovela. Two years later, he was in Hollywood, playing opposite Keira Knightley in Tony Scott’s “Domino.” The rest, as they say, is history—one filled with a role in “The Bourne Ultimatum,” the lead in “Carlos” as the infamous Carlos the Jackal, a return to telenovelas, another leading role in the remake of “Point Break” and many, many more.
This year, he has appeared in “Hands of Stone” as legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán, and will hit the big screen again with the movie adaptation of award-winning novel “The Girl on the Train,” as well as drama thriller “Gold,” which is set (but unfortunately not filmed) in Indonesia.
DA MAN: There are a lot of your current and future works that caught our attention, but one really stood out: “Gold.” Can you give us a brief intro to the movie?
Édgar Ramírez: “Gold” is the story of two men chasing a dream, a mirage. The film follows an American mining prospector played by Matthew McConaughey and a geologist, whom I play. The pair team up together to find their dream.
DA MAN: Of course, it’s not unusual for a movie to be set in one locale but shot in another. That being said, do you think that actually filming “Gold” in Indonesia where the story is set could have added something different to the experience?
Édgar Ramírez: It definitely would have added its own texture, and the movie would have been formed in a different way, but we still shot in some of the most spectacular locations in Southeast Asia. Getting to shoot in Thailand was an amazing experience and we even had the chance to work with Indonesian people. Of course, shooting in Indonesia would have been awesome, but I don’t think that the movie suffered from not shooting at the real locations. We were in the most beautiful jungles and places in the world.
DA MAN: Speaking of which, have you ever been to Indonesia before?
Édgar Ramírez: I have never been, but I would love to visit soon!
Outfit by Canali, watch by Cartier
DA MAN: Back to the movie itself, what would you say is the best part of “Gold” that would attract viewers?
Édgar Ramírez: I think the comradery between me and Matthew McConaughey is definitely something that’s worth watching. We play two guys who come from different worlds that bond together and work together to chase their dreams. They end up becoming the best of friends. And I think that’s what happened to me and Matthew. It was a really cool experience.
DA MAN: Do you have any particularly memorable on-set stories you can share with us?
Édgar Ramírez: Oh man, there are so many! We worked so hard on the film and it was in the middle of monsoon season, so we had to really fight through the weather in Thailand. There was actually one week where we lost eight different sets because of the water levels and the amount of rain. The struggle that these characters had to go through in the story was the same struggle that we had to go through in real life—just two guys fighting against the elements. It wasn’t only us, but the entire crew struggled through this weather to make the film. We bonded together; me, Matthew, Stephen [director Stephen Gaghan] and the rest of the crew trying to get this movie finished despite the weather and the geographical difficulties. Probably one of the most memorable moments were the times that Matthew and I had to sleep in our respective trailers in the middle of the jungle in order to make our call times the next day. We would film late into the night and, if we went all the way back to our hotels, it would have cut our sleep time in half, so we would stay just stay at the filming location. It gave us the unique opportunity to actually sleep in the middle of the jungle and that really brought the cast and crew together even more.
DA MAN: And you’re also set to appear in the higly-anticipated “The Girl on the Train.” On a scale of one to 10, how you would personally rate “The Girl on the Train”?
Édgar Ramírez: 25!
DA MAN: Most people know you primarily for your roles in action movies or historical thrillers. What about playing in a mystery drama like “The Girl on the Train”? Is this a genre that you’ll explore more?
Édgar Ramírez: Yes, absolutely. I’m always open to compelling and interesting characters. I tend not to choose my roles base on a film genre; it’s more based on the story and whether I can develop an emotional connection with the story or get a chance to work with amazing people, such as my co-stars in this film: Tate Taylor, Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson and Hayley Bennet.
DA MAN: More importantly, did you enjoy working on this movie?
Édgar Ramírez: I loved it. Although it’s a mystery thriller, the atmosphere on set was so relaxed and playful, you would never have guessed we were there filming such a dark and mysterious movie.
DA MAN: Moving on to one of your previous movies, now that “Hands of Stone” is about to make its global run, how do you think will audiences react?
Édgar Ramírez: I hope they will have a great time, because we honestly had the best time making it. We tried to shoot the film as festive, playful, electrifying and as energizing as possible. When people walk out of the theater, I really hope they feel excitement.
DA MAN: How did you react when you first saw the final cut of the movie?
Édgar Ramírez: I threw a huge party to celebrate; I just loved it so much.
“As corny as it may sound, when someone smiles at you for no reason or when someone treats you well, that goes a long way”
DA MAN: How did you prepare for your role prior to filming?
Édgar Ramírez: I moved to Panama for over a year to train with the legend himself—Roberto Durán. He was the real champion and he trained me. It was the most fantastic and genuine experience. It was hard and it was tough, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Not only did I have the opportunity to become a boxer myself, which is an amazing ability and skill to have, but to also have the privilege to be trained by one the greatest boxers in the history of the sport. This is something that no one can pass up.
DA MAN: There have been a lot of boxing-themed movies in the past few years. What is it that made “Hands of Stone” really stand out?
Édgar Ramírez: The movie tells a story of one of the greatest boxers in history, but it’s not just a boxing film. It’s actually a film about relationships, love, loss, redemption, victory—about getting knocked down and getting back up. It’s a movie about faith and love above everything. It’s a movie that tells the audience that strong and solid relationships will help us navigate through life. It explores how happiness is defined by the role we give to love in our lives and by the amazing and solid relationships we choose to surround ourselves with.
DA MAN: Of all the movies you’ve worked on so far, which ones would you say have been the most memorable?
Édgar Ramírez: There have been too many to just pick one! I have been very lucky to be involved in so many great movies and to be able to work with so many amazing people—people that I have admired in my entire life. I had “Raging Bull” [Robert De Niro played another legendary boxer, Jake “The Raging Bull” LaMotta in a film titled after the LaMotta’s nickname] in my corner shooting “Hands of Stone.” Robert De Niro played my trainer, which was such a memorable experience. And then to also have the ability to work with him again in “Joy,” where he played my father-in-law. It’s been a great privilege to have the opportunity to develop a friendship with him on and off the screen. He’s a legend.
Outfit by Boss by Hugo Boss
DA MAN: You’re involved in many humanitarian causes—from Amnesty International’s No Dispares to being a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. What is it that drives you to become such a philanthropist?
Édgar Ramírez: I think it has to do with trying to be useful to society. I think having access to media, having a voice that people recognize by the virtue of your job, I think that implies a sense of social responsibility. I am not saying that everyone has to do it, but it’s my reality and that’s how I feel about my opinions being heard. There are a lot of people and a lot of causes in the world that don’t have a voice, and I think it is very important that once you are given an opportunity to see your voice amplified, you use it to help other people and advance certain causes. I think that fame shouldn’t just be about getting the fanciest tables at a restaurant, receiving amazing gifts or having access to the most beautiful things and places; fame should be used in a way that could help society.
DA MAN: You have inspired a lot of people. What is it that inspires you?
Édgar Ramírez: Generosity in people. As corny as it may sound, when someone smiles at you for no reason or when someone treats you well, that goes a long way. I think when someone has the ability to be generous, it can be really inspiring. I’ve been the recipient of a lot of generosity in my life and that keeps me grounded and inspired.
To see more images from this photo shoot, get your copy of DA MAN October/November 2016 here, and check out these outtakes below.