By Jack Rico
‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ the early front-runner in the Oscar race back in December 2012, was the film that garnered the most number of Best Picture wins from varios US film critic organizations. Now after Argo cleaned its clock throughout the televised award season, Venezulan actor Edgar Ramirez, who had a nice chunk of screen time in the film, thinks ZDK has a shot to win it all.
Ramirez, born in the city of San Cristóbal, Venezuela, is the son of a soldier and speaks fluently English, German, Italian and French in addition to his native tongue, Spanish. In 2005, he made his major international motion picture debut playing Choco, Domino Harvey’s love interest in the film Domino, directed by Tony Scott. His next major feature film was Vantage Point directed by Pete Travis. Ramírez has also appeared in Bourne Ultimatum, Che, and Wrath of the Titans amongst others.
I discussed with Ramirez the reasons why the film has done so well, his first non-Hispanic role, his love for Kathryn Bigelow and the chances of ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘ seriously beating Argo at the Oscars 2013.
ShowBizCafe (SBC): Let’s begin with “Zero Dark Thirty”. What was your reaction when you started finding out that most of the local critic organizations, plus the NBR (National Board of Review), were naming ZDK Best Picture of the Year?
Edgar Ramirez: You can only imagine, being in India and Jordan and shooting under very intense circumstances walking the walk along with an amazing team and an amazing director in Kathryn Bigelow. Seeing everyone trying to pull this off, because it was a very difficult movie to put together on so many levels – the pressure, the secrecy, and the demonstrations that we had in India against us because we were making India pass as Pakistan so people got really pissed. Imagine all of that and then suddenly the people that see the movie start to recognize it in such an amazing way, it’s really touching.
We knew that we were doing something interesting but you would never imagine that so it’s very gratifying and I’m so happy for Kathryn and the recognition she is getting, and for Jessica and Mark, and of course, for everyone involved, because this is the effort of so many people commanded by Kathryn. Up until today we keep getting this beautiful news about people embracing and praising the movie, it’s very touching, it’s a wonderful feeling.
(SBC): Let’s talk about the character. Can you tell us who you play and the objective of the character in the film?
Edgar Ramirez: I play Larry Clark who is a ground branch officer for the CIA, he is in charge of spotting Osama bin Laden’s couriers – who ultimately brings the entire operation to where was hiding. So that’s <Larry’s> mission, to find the missing link that will take Maya’s, Jessica Chastain’s character, investigation to where Osama bin Laden was hiding.
(SBC): Is this role a Hispanic role or are you a Hispanic actor playing a non-Hispanic role?
Edgar Ramirez: I was playing an American for the first time. It was very interesting.
(SBC): So when your agent called you and said “hey, they want to offer you a non-Hispanic role” – that is considered by many actors the threshold where they break through. Many Hispanic actors dream of the day where they don’t necessarily have to play a Hispanic role, but they can play any role because of their skills – what was your reaction and how do you feel about that today, playing a non-Hispanic role as a Hispanic.
Edgar Ramirez: I was excited about the possibility of playing such an interesting character, in such an interesting story, with such an amazing director regardless of the nationality or ethnicity of the character. Stereotypes are not circumscribed to any ethnicity, religion, race or nationality. For me more than being excited about playing an American I was excited about playing such an interesting character that has such a definite responsibility within the story, which is in a way the turning point in the story because the one that provides the missing link that would ultimately bring the entire operation to where Osama bin Laden was hiding so I was more excited about that.
I appreciate the trust that Kathryn put in me as an actor she said: “I want you to play this role with an American accent, can you do it?” I said yes, the same way that I tried to speak Arabic as fluently as possible in “Carlos” three years ago and to speak French with a southern accent while playing a heart surgeon in <”An Open Heart”> which I performed in France last year. For me, it’s more about the complexity of the roles regardless of the nationality. It is great to be trusted, that you as an actor, can meet the needs, specifications and requirements of the character that you are entrusted.
If I am Ramirez and I am summoned to play a Hispanic role in a movie, there is nothing wrong about it, as long as the character is interesting, multilayered and three-dimensional then it’s fine. I don’t really put too much attention on ethnicity or nationality.
(SBC): Do you think that this movie is the Best Picture of the year?
Edgar Ramirez: I think so, yeah. I think that it’s a very strong contender. It’s a great season because there are great movies out there so it’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be interesting because there are amazing movies, I haven’t seen them all, but I’ve seen many of them so far. Ours, of course for me, has a special quality that is the fact that it is one of the very few movies out there that are exploring social realities as a subject, something that is so intimately related to all of us, a story that changed everybody’s lives on this planet. presents in such an honest an non-prejudiced way, it presents all the points of view and angles of that story for the first time and its one of the few creative efforts that tries to tell the story not only from one point of view, but taking into consideration other angles and points of view of the story that exists in every story, so I’m very proud of that.
What do you think Edgar Ramirez’s comments? Leave your thoughts below.