The Venezuelan actor transformed himself into an elf working as a government agent in David Ayer’s contemporary fantasy thriller “Bright,” which opened in theaters and on Netflx on Friday. He also plays fashion icon Gianni Versace in the Ryan Murphy-produced limited series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” which premieres on FX in January.
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Over the course of his career, the 40-year-old Ramirez has played everything from a Greek god to legendary boxer Roberto Durán, but these two roles required something else entirely.
For “Bright,” which costars Will Smith, Ramirez asked the Italian sartorial house Kiton to craft his character Kandomere’s suits, while makeup artists gave him prosthetic ears, special teeth and a wig that was purposefully stranded together to look intentionally unnatural. Portraying Versace was actually more intense. Ramírez wore not only prosthetics but also a wig cap that made him nervous.
Ramirez recalls, “The first day, I told Ryan, ‘I’m ready to take this off and shave my head and put the wig on my shaved head.’ He said, ‘Edgar, trust me. You don’t need to do it. It looks great already.’ I had a little freaking out moment with the prosthetic, but I think that every actor using it for the first time can relate.”
Ramírez discussed the unique world building his character is a part of in “Bright,” and what he thinks viewers will learn about Versace.
Your character Kandomere is an elf in “Bright.” How do elves function in this world?
Elves are the ruling class. There’s as much separation between tribes and clans and social strata and race as there is in the world we live in. Basically, in the most general terms, the movie is a metaphor of the times that we live in, with all the intolerance and all the lack of empathy that we deal with every day. Kandomere, being an elf, shouldn’t be working for the FBI or shouldn’t be working for a salary. He should be hiring employees and being on top of the food chain. Kandomere is the character that understands the danger of the abuse of power.
Am I wrong in picking up that you’re playing him with a slight amount of contempt for the humans he’s working with?
I mean, he’s still an elf. Elves always have the upper hand, because they have supernatural powers. They have a heightened sensitivity. They can read minds. They can guess what people are coming from. So definitely, there’s an arrogance that is inherited through the elves. This is an elf that is trying to somehow balance out all that privilege.
Of course, there’s a little bit of condescendence in the way Kandomere deals with his sidekick, with Montehugh [played by Happy Anderson]. There’s a common trust between them. But at the same time, they’re working together. Elves don’t necessarily need to be your friend or to be tender or nice to you, but Kandomere acknowledges the importance of respecting others.
You shot “Versace” after this? What made you want to do it?
I was very excited about the team, and, of course, I’ve admired Ryan’s work for many years. You never know, but honestly, I knew that journey was going to be interesting. It was going to be something that would inform me with a lot of things.
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