• Sun. Sep 19th, 2021
Jungle Cruise

With Disney releasing “Jungle Cruise” tonight in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access this Friday, we were lucky enough to participate in an invitation-only virtual press conference where we were allowed to ask the cast questions. Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Jack Whitehall, and Edgar Ramirez attended, and all were very candid about their experience making this film. Before we get into my takeaways from the event, this film is a ton of fun. It evokes memories of “Romancing the Stone,” “Jewel of the Nile,” and even just enough supernatural elements to keep the tension high throughout. Now that we touched on that, here are some of the takeaways from the press conference.

 

5. The Rock needed Emily Blunt –

We learned early on in the press conference that both director Jaume Collet-Serra and Dwayne Johnson that there was only one person who could play Lily in the film. Johnson explained, ” So our director, Jaume Collet-Serra [PH], was flying to New York to meet Emily to hand-deliver the Jungle Cruise script.” We learned shortly after his comment that a video accompanied the script that was 25 minutes long. When asked to provide some context behind the video, Johnson added, “I said, “Emily… you are the only one who can do this movie.” Blunt then responded, “I was very touched.” Their instincts told them they need Emily for the film, and anyone who sees the film will most certainly agree.

 

4. Chemistry is everything –

While we all heard about Dwayne’s sell pitch to Emily, it became apparent after seeing the film why he was so hell-bent on getting her to sign on to the project. This type of chemistry is very rare. For two actors to hit it off so quickly after never working once together is certainly unusual. Blunt added, “I knew when we met, we had this rapport that allowed us to ping pong back and forth so quickly.” Johnson followed that up with, “You hope to get lucky with your cast, and you try to have some chemistry, and at times, you fake it, you know, ’cause you’re acting, but this was different.” Genuine chemistry always leads to a better final product which is evident in the film.

 

3. Improv anyone?

It seems the relaxed atmosphere on set allowed for some improv to occur during the shoot. Jack Whitehall revealed, “I mean, there was a fair amount of improv.  The script was amazing, but then also, we were given the space to improvise and add stuff to it, and these two (Dwayne and Emily) created this environment where we were able to do that, and it felt like such a safe space.”  There are certainly some moments of frivolity in the film which appear to be just that which didn’t track in any way.

 

2.  Difficult stunts –

One thing which did stand out during the film is the number of difficult stunts occurring during various scenes. When Emily and Dwayne were asked which one was the most difficult to shoot, they both agreed. Blunt stated, “The rope swing.  It was the most challenging because he would not let me get one straight take in.  He was going-he pushed it so far every time to try and make me laugh on that vine swing.  We shot that all day.  We didn’t get one straight one.” Johnson responded by stating, “It was that heroic vine swing that you think you know where-where the-where the-the hero grabs the lady.  You know, with that intention, and takes off and goes to save the day.  And then, of course, it just goes to hell because I don’t save the day.” While this wouldn’t have been the stunt I’d have guessed was the most challenging, their response was a nice window into the chemistry these two clearly have.

 

1) Tone is everything –

It seems that everyone associated with the film was hyperfocused on making sure the tone of “Jungle Cruise” was perfect. While the film has many action sequences, “Jungle Cruise” is a romantic film. Blunt pointed out that “Jungle Cruise was made in the spirit of the films we all grew up watching. I mainline those movies into my veins.  I just loved Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone, African Queen.  Like, they are just joy bombs, and they’re nostalgic, and I think we just needed to pierce people’s hearts directly with the spirit of those films that we all loved as children.  Um, and it just took a lot of tempering and c-beautiful conducting from Jaume, who was just extraordinarily free-spirited with us in this massive spectacle of a movie.  Such a world builder which you need for those adventure movies.  You need it.  But I know when he and I first met Jaume, we both asked him the same question.  And we said, “Well, what do you feel this movie’s about?”  And I always ask a filmmaker that before I’m about to sign on, ’cause I want to know it’s called what the shows about, what the movie’s about.  And he goes, “You know, it’s it’s about love.”  And it was so perfect, ’cause you could’ve talked about all the action, the spectacle, and the myths and the legends and all that.  But that’s when I knew in Jaume we had an innate romantic.”

 

 

Dewey Singleton

I'm a member of Critics Choice, Hollywood Critics Association, and The Society of Professional Journalists. I am also on Rotten Tomatoes. My bylines include @awardswatch, @deweysmovies, @awardsradar, @weliveentertainment, @bleedingcool, and @insessionfilm. I am married to @sgitw and have two sons.

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