Edgar Ramirez talks about working on THE ARGENTINE and GUERRILLA for Steven Soderbergh

     February 10, 2008

On Friday I attended the press junket for the new Sony thriller “Vantage Point.” With the huge cast of actors in the film, I managed to get a lot of great quotes about a ton of upcoming movies. In case you missed what I’ve already posted, here’s a link to what Matthew Fox said about “Lost” and “Speed Racer.” Here’s what Dennis Quaid said about “G.I. Joe.” Here’s what William Hurt said about “The Incredible Hulk and a bit on a Nelson Mandela movie. Finally, here’s what Forest Whitaker said about “Repossession Mambo,” “Street Kings,” “Where The Wild Things Are,” “Patriots” and “Better Angels.”

And if you thought I was done pulling quotes…you’d be wrong. For my last article I’ve got Edgar Ramirez talking about possibly playing Pablo Escobar and working on “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla” for Steven Soderbergh.

Since I mentioned Pablo Escobar first, here’s what you need to know. For a long time Hollywood has tried to make a movie about one of the most ambitious and powerful drug dealers in history. Recently, two films have tried to get off the ground. One is called “Killing Pablo,” and it was going to be directed by Joe Carnahan. The other was called “Escobar,” and Antoine Fuqua was going to helm it. For whatever reason, both films have been delayed and many people have been wondering which project might actually get made.

Well, it looks like “Escobar” might actually be happening, as Edgar Ramirez said it’s one of his possible next projects. After the junket ended I asked him, “What do you think the percentage chance that that’s your next project? Better than 50?” He said, “Yeah, over 50.”

Obviously that doesn’t mean it’ll be his next project, but he was smiling as he answered my question and I got the vibe that it’s probably his next job. Don’t quote me…it’s just my gut feeling. With the writer’s strike getting resolved, perhaps an announcement isn’t too far away.

Moving on.

I also mentioned that Edgar talked about working with Steven Soderbergh on “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla.” In case you didn’t know, director Steven Soderbergh has been busy making two films on Che Guevara. One is called “The Argentine” and it’s about the Cuban revolution. The other is “Guerrilla,” and it focuses on the years following the revolution. Both films have Benicio del Toro playing Che, and Edgar revealed that he’s playing Ciro Redondo – one of Che’s lieutenants. While the release dates are not yet known, the rumor is that the first film will be in theaters later this year.

So if you’re curious what Edgar said about all of these projects, enjoy the selected quotes. As always, if you’d rather listen to the interview, you can click here to download the audio as an MP3. Look for a full transcript later this week.

Question: Can you talk a little bit about working for Soderbergh on the back-to-back projects?

Edgar Ramirez: Yeah, it was great. It was really great. I mean, he’s one of the…for me one of the finest American directors of you know of the most recent years. I think he’s got a…he’s so solid. He’s got such a clear idea of what he wants when he’s shooting and he conveys it in such a harmonious way, you know, because shooting Che was very difficult. The weather conditions were just extreme. We didn’t have to… I mean were really guerilla and all messed up and dehydrated and everything. We were shooting in Puerto Rico which is such a humid area and we were improvising a lot and however keeping, you know, the consistency and the coherence of the movie. It was really great for me. It was a great privilege.

It is very guerilla the way he’s shooting it or is there a lot of storyboards he’s trying to keep?

Edgar Ramirez: Storyboards. I think that it’s actually like a very contemplative movie and we had the privilege to shoot it chronologically.

Oh really? How different an experience has that been in terms of your character in the movie then?

Edgar Ramirez: In the The Argentine?


Edgar Ramirez: I mean, it’s great because it’s like being on stage. I mean, you go from one to two to three to four and of course it’s great because you solve each conflict and you go through each stage of your character’s arch, you know step by step and it’s fantastic. And if it can be common experience then it’s even better.

For the people who don’t know, can you tell a little bit about what each film is about?

Edgar Ramirez: Yeah, “The Argentine” is the first one and it goes from Mexico to Cuba. It’s the first stage is the earlier stages of the revolution. It goes from Gremla to Havana to Santa Clara and “Guerilla” goes from Cuba all the way to Bolivia. So it’s the 2. It’s the story of the whole attentive revolution that Che Guevara was trying to carry out in the world, especially Latin America. It’s all in 2 parts because it a big…

And who do you play exactly.

Edgar Ramirez: I played Ciro Redondo. He was one of Che Guevara’s lieutenants. He was one of the few who was school educated so he was very much involved in the vocational aspect of the revolution because it was about freedom of education. It was about fighting and learning so my character was very focused on that.

Can you talk a little bit about working with Benicio and did you guy rehearse a lot?

Edgar Ramirez: Not really, no, no. It was an extreme happening. I mean we were there and we didn’t rehearse that much probably for technical reasons and then we went for it. He’s an amazing actor. He’s got such a density, you know, as an actor. He’s really committed and also very generous as an actor.

Is there a period of time when they’re being released apart or how are they….

Edgar Ramirez: I have no idea. I don’t know what they’re going to do with the release.

And is your character that you’re playing, the lieutenant, is he still alive? Did you get to meet him or is he dead?

Edgar Ramirez: No, actually one of the interesting things about Ciro Redondo is he died before the revolution was fulfilled, so he died being a idealist, so it was very romantic. And actually there are some people that say that he died probably one month—no, he died a year before the final battle that let the revolution win. And some people say some researchers that the hat that Che Guevara is famous for belongs to Ciro Redondo that he picked it up at the battle where he was shot. He was shot in the head.

Was there any footage or anything that existed that you could base any research on? Or how did you prepare for the part?

Edgar Ramirez: Nothing. I mean, I had interviews with people who met him; people that knew him from the time and then many elementary schools in Cuba are named after him because of his involvement with education during the revolution. And I just got access to some pictures because as I said before he didn’t survive so he couldn’t be filmed much or anything. I tried to base my research more on what people told me about him, about how apparently he was very loved by the troop. He was a teacher so he had a very easy understanding with the troops who were a bunch of kids who were not trained militaries. They were just peasants and people who wanted to help somehow, so we’re not talking about any structured army that will follow orders so charisma and understanding and care was important to motivate these people, to encourage these people to go through the harshest circumstances they have to go through to fulfill the revolution.

Now that you’ve wrapped on these two films from Soderbergh, what do you have coming up?

Edgar Ramirez: Well, there are some interesting things coming together that I will comment on now. I have a huge promotion, you’ve heard from me on Vantage Point and also with Cyrano Fernandez – that is a Venezuelan movie that I star in and co-produced and it’s based on the romance of Cyrano de Bergerac. And it’s set in a Venezuelan slum. It’s a free version of the French play.

Do you play the Cyrano character or the…?

Edgar Ramirez: I play Cyrano.

With the big nose?

Edgar Ramirez: No, with a big scar.

No nose?

Edgar Ramirez: No nose, no because it would be too…it would not be real for the reality of a favela you know? It would be too theatrical so we appealed to the deformation of his face.

You’ve been linked on the always-accurate IMDB to possibly playing Pablo Escobar.

Edgar Ramirez: Yeah.

So is there any truth to that?

Edgar Ramirez: It’s in works.

So, would that be a dream for you to play Pablo?

Edgar Ramirez: It would be a great challenge and it would be a great responsibility to history—of contemporary history—in my region. We’re talking about a character who really definitely changed the face of a whole country and the face of a whole region, and a character filled with contractions. A character who for half of his nation he represented hope and emancipation for the other half represented horror, terror and desperation, so it would be quite a challenge and something very interesting to get involved with.

Is this the project you were thinking or didn’t want to sort of say that this could be the thing that is happening next?

Edgar Ramirez: Among others, yeah.

But now you’ve said it now.

Edgar Ramirez: Yeah, that it’s in works, yeah.

What do you think the percentage chance that that’s your next project? Better than 50?

Edgar Ramirez: Yeah, over 50.

Okay, there we go. Have a good day.

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