Edgar Ramírez has been through the wringer. Over the course of the coming months, the Venezuelan-born actor will be ubiquitous on the big screen, and more often than not he’ll be engaged in some sort of possibly fatal activity, ranging from rock climbing to extreme surfing, cliff-diving or good, old-fashioned fist fighting.
While he might appear to be something of a daredevil, get to know the Golden Globe and Emmy nominee—lauded for his role as the South American radical Carlos the Jackal in 2010’s Carlos—offscreen and a gentler picture begins to emerge. Ramírez is fluent in five languages, including German and French (which no doubt came in handy a few years back, when he was tapped by Karl Lagerfeld to pose for a series of portraits), and having grown up the peripatetic son of a diplomat, Ramírez has a marked love of travel. Perhaps it’s that wanderlust that led Ramírez to his rough-and-tumble role in December’s Point Break, a high-octane reimagining of the 1991 surfer heist cult classic.
“While most action films are shot in front of a green screen, we had the privilege to be in some of the most extreme locations in the world,” says Ramírez, who filmed the movie in 11 countries across four continents. “I’m grateful that nobody died.”
And while the part of Bodhi—played in the original film by Patrick Swayze—finds Ramírez portraying the daredevil leader of a gang of base-jumping bank robbers, the 38-year-old actor had no trouble finding the character’s softer side. “I think that the film has a sense of resilience and of trying to defend the human spirit,” he explains. “Bodhi and his gang want to show that the human spirit is still alive. They don’t just want to point out what’s wrong with the system, they want to do something about it, they want to take it down.”
It’s this counterintuitive take on the part that made Ramírez the right guy for it. “Edgar was an appealing choice for me because he is a deep thinker and a great actor,” director Ericson Core says. “The thing I loved about Carlos is that Edgar played a terrorist, but he still had a deep philosophy and he wanted to change the world. And that’s the story of Bodhi in this film—he is Don Quixote running at windmills. Edgar can’t help but put humanity into his performance.”
It’s not the only great turn Ramírez will take this winter. He’ll appear opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, director David O. Russell’s film about the inventor Joy Mangano, and will star as real-life boxing phenom Roberto Durán alongside Robert De Niro in the upcoming Hands of Stone. Both roles are based on living people, something that Ramírez says presents a unique dramatic opportunity. “When you play a biographical character, it’s more of a painting than a photograph,” he says. “In the end, you are re-creating a life, its circumstances, its essence and the traits and qualities that make a person unique.”
Ramírez might make his living portraying other people, but taking into account his rapidly growing résumé—including a role in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the bestselling thriller The Girl on the Train—and that charmingly optimistic outlook, it’s no stretch to imagine that the greatest portrait he’ll create will be one of himself.
In main photo: Shirt, $737, ETRO, etro.com.
Groomer: Kristan Serafino using Tom Ford Men. Photographed on location at The Gordon Bar in New York City.