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Interview: Finding the Hidden Face of Your Character

Source: / Photos by Stephanie Diani

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Actors and boxers should have one thing in common, according to Édgar Ramírez. “There’s a part that should stay in the shadows that you shouldn’t overstay.”

The mysterious alchemy of the two art forms recently fueled the actor for his starring role as Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Durán in “Hands of Stone.” And for the first time in his two decades as an actor, Ramírez allowed the unknown to guide him, resisting his usual cerebral approach to a man so defined by his physicality.

“I learned how to fight [first],” he says of going to Panama to train with fighters from the period in which Durán was competing. “I focused on feeling the struggle, the pain that a boxer has to go through, and then I worked on the mannerisms, the traits of his personality. That’s what this character asked me for…. This character is very different for me, very different.”

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Interview: NYTIMES.COM


Edgar Ramírez Speaks Five Languages and Has One Peculiar Habit.

To portray the Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Durán in “Hands of Stone,” Edgar Ramírez learned how to throw a punch — and to take one.

“I needed to go through the struggle of becoming a fighter,” Mr. Ramírez said. “I needed to feel that through my body in a very physical, raw way.”

Jonathan Jakubowicz’s biopic follows Durán from the mean streets of Panama City into the ring in North America, where in 1980 he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) for the world welterweight title.

And Robert De Niro, who 36 years ago starred as the boxer Jake LaMotta, plays Durán’s American trainer Ray Arcel. “To have ‘Raging Bull’ in your corner is a dream come true,” Mr. Ramírez said.

A former executive director of a Rock the Vote-like nongovernmental organization, the Venezuelan-born Mr. Ramírez has played some famous fellow countrymen — among them, Simón Bolívar in “The Liberator” and Carlos the Jackal in “Carlos.” More recently, he starred opposite Jennifer Lawrence and Mr. De Niro in “Joy.” And this fall, he’ll play Dr. Kamal Abdic in the hotly anticipated “The Girl on the Train,” alongside Emily Blunt.

In a recent interview in New York, the “single but hopeful” Mr. Ramírez, 39, who speaks five languages (Spanish, German, English, French and Italian) and is based in Panama, talked about uncovering a character’s many faces and his peculiar habit. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

What’s required to play a boxer?

To portray not only a boxer but a boxer like Roberto Durán, I needed to understand all the difficulties and the pressures of the sport itself. Panamanian boxing is very musical. It feels almost like they’re dancing. I trained to salsa music — that’s how Durán used to do it.

What physical shape did the role require?

This is a sport that is more about strategy and the power of your mind than about the strength of your body. Because a fight, you win it or you lose it in your head.

Continue reading Interview: NYTIMES.COM

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Interview: Esquire


Actors—the good ones, anyway—develop a character by first psychologically spelunking, studying the words on the page to find a deeper meaning, a psychic truth. Once that skeletal structure is built, they begin layering on the muscle, veins, skin and flab of mannerisms, verbal tics, social skills, and affectations that make a character come alive on screen. Some call this Method acting, others just call it acting. And this is how Venezuelan-born actor Édgar Ramírez has approached every one of his roles. But not this time. Not for Hands of Stone, in which he plays Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Durán opposite Robert DeNiro. For that role, he had to undergo transform from the outside in.

“In order to understand the mindset of a boxer, I needed to become a boxer myself,” Ramírez says. “I couldn’t even start the process of understanding Durán without my own physical transformation.”

So before he spent any time crafting his portrayal of Durán, he relocated to Panama—a country of just under four million that has produced twenty-nine world-champion boxers—for more than five months to train at La Cuadra de los Rockeros (translation: The Block of the Rockers), a legendary gym in Panama City. Holed up, with nothing to do but push his body to limits he didn’t think possible, Ramírez altered his body so that he could then alter his mind.

Continue reading Interview: Esquire

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Photos & Video: AOL Build

Edgar Ramirez attends AOL Build Speaker Series to discuss ‘Hands of Stone’ at AOL HQ on August 4, 2016 in New York City.

“Hands of Stone” follows the life of Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), the Panamanian fighter who made his professional debut in 1968 as a 16 year-old and retired in 2002 at the age of 50. In June 1980, he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard to capture the WBC welterweight title, but shocked the boxing world by returning to his corner in their November rematch, famously saying the words “no mas.” Join actor Edgar Ramirez as he discusses his starring role in this film.

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