Of the many aspects of Jungle Cruise, the electric chemistry and wit of its cast wit will rank among everyone’s favorites upon leaving the theater (or home setup). Actors Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt carry the movie with their snappy back-and-forths, aided by quips from a vibrant ensemble that includes Edgar Ramirez and Jack Whitehall. When these four actors came together for the Jungle Cruise international press conference, the film’s tone was a large topic of interest.
At its heart, Jungle Cruise is an adventure movie, taking heavy inspiration from many classic films in the genre. “I just loved Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone, African Queen,” said actress Emily Blunt. “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.” What are the spirits of those films recognized for? Rompish voyages and light-on-its-feet humor.
Jungle Cruise follows boat skipper Frank and explorer Lily Houghton on their journey down the Amazon river in search of a magical heal-all flower. Along the way, their dynamic changes a few times, all while fitting seamlessly into the larger cinematic mood of the film. Edgar Ramirez, who plays the film’s villain Aguirre, noted that Blunt and Johnson made striking that balance look easy. “That tone, to be witty and romantic and funny and snide but cute at the same time, I mean, that is a very difficult tone,” he stated. “People think ‘Oh, yeah, adventure. That’s easy.’ No, that is a very difficult tone to achieve.” Somewhere between Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise impressively nails the tongue-in-cheek swashbuckling adventurism inherent to the genre. “Meanwhile, I was in my opera,” Ramirez joked, recalling his own acting history on the Venezuelan soap opera Cosita Rica.
Blunt and Johnson agreed on the difficulty of nailing that tone, often requiring multiple takes to generate the proper reaction from their mutual screen partners. Describing one particular scene, Emily Blunt stated, “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 take. But every time, I was like, just tell me what you’re gonna say this time, just so I can be prepared, and every time he’d throw in some awful improv that would make me laugh.”
Actor Jack Whitehall, who plays Emily Blunt’s on-screen brother, also noted the spontaneous nature of the film’s production. “The script was amazing, but then also, we were given the space to kind of improvise and add stuff to it, and [Johnson & Blunt] created this environment where we were able to do that and it felt like such a safe space,” he explained. “Some of the great moments that you see in the film are genuine moments that we sort of came up with in the moment, and [director] Jaume was so good at encouraging that as well.”
Sometimes, though, the jokes might’ve gone a bit too far. “There were probably a few jokes that ended up on the cutting room floor for the right reasons,” Whitehall added, causing his fellow Jungle Cruise cast members to conjure stories of their own. When asked if it was true that there was enough footage to fill the runtime of two movies, they all agreed. “One of them is not PG-13,” Whitehall revealed. “One of them is very red band,” Blunt added, going on to describe yet another particular scene where she has to pull out a sword from another character. “That one was like… we could’ve gone… oh, you should’ve heard. It was appalling,” she described. “I think we shot that scene all day. It was just too fun. Too funny.” Johnson, laughing, interjected, saying “the innuendos and then the dark web jokes.”
While it’s safe to say we’ll never see this version of Jungle Cruise fit for the “dark web,” it’s clear that the cast had a lot of fun while filming. If you’re looking for a good side-splitter, this film might be right for you — but don’t take it from me, take it from Jack Whitehall himself: “It’s got some of the best puns I’ve ever heard. It’s got Dwayne Johnson doing a standup comedy routine. What’s not to love about that?”