Four members of the star-studded cast of “Jungle Cruise” gathered for a virtual press conference on Monday, and shared- amidst a lot of puns and laughter-what led them to jump aboard the movie derived from the iconic Disney Parks’ attraction.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson signed on early with the project he saw had so much “potential opportunity, ….the attraction being Walt Disney’s baby,” and one which had been percolating at Disney since 2004 following the first installment of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. But it took some persuading to woo his co-star Emily Blunt into taking the role of Lily Houghton-complete with a personal 25-minute video plea. Blunt and Johnson joked about her originally being turned off by Johnson’s unabashed begging, resulting in Blunt initially “ghosting” him, which she attributed to her more reserved English demeanor.
But luckily for movie audiences, Blunt finally agreed to join Johnson in heading up the crew of “Jungle Cruise,” and the two found they had “instant chemistry,” both as actors and friends. “We are pals for life,” said Johnson, “sometimes you have to fake it, but with Emily it was immediate.”
Jack Whitehall, who plays MacGregor Houghton in the movie, praised the couple’s ability to bring their characters to life, often with quite a bit of improv: “To be witty, romantic, snide, and cute all at the same time…is a very difficult tone to achieve.”
First drawn to the movie’s “amazing script,” Whitehall thinks audiences will feel not only Johnson and Blunt’s chemistry, but the entire cast’s as well, because “the characters are all so fleshed out with such interesting backgrounds, that people will want to get invested in them.”
Edgar Ramirez also expressed his “love” for “Jungle Cruise,” and its ability to lead its audience on “a journey into the past” through an Amazonian country that reminded him of his homeland of Venezuela. Ramirez stars as Aguirre, who Blunt describes as “an operatic bad guy” but Ramirez insists is simply “misunderstood.” The star expressed his gratitude for being part of such an “amazing, iconic movie…with a diverse cast. It is just so special.” What Ramirez was not so grateful for was all of the snakes on set, of which he admitted he was “super afraid.”
So should movie-goers expect a film-length version of the classic Disney Parks’ ride when “Jungle Cruise” opens this Friday? Not quite, says the movie’s cast. Whitehall recalled that the film’s director, Jaume Collet-Serra, told him that “it is a movie about love.” And while much like the attraction that inspired it,” ‘Jungle Cruise’ does not take itself too seriously…with wit, humor and the best puns” Whitehall has ever heard, Blunt describes the movie as more complicated and far less peaceful than the Disney Parks’ ride of the same name. Actually, both Blunt and Ramirez rode “Jungle Cruise” for the first time just two day’s before the movie’s red-carpet premiere, and while both fell in love with the iconic attraction’s “charm, simplicity and calmness,” both laughingly insist “the movie is not those things.”
But does “the backside of water” make it into “Jungle Cruise?” No need to worry. According to Whitehall, it does and it is funnier than ever: “It got the biggest cheers at the premiere!”
“Jungle Cruise” sets sail on Friday, July 30 at movie theaters nationwide and on Disney+ with Premier Access.