Edgar Ramirez talks about honoring Patrick Swayze and a new Bodhi for a new time in the Point Break remake.
Point Break is back with Johnny Utah and Bodhi, but the only things really remaining from the original are the names. Even the sports have gotten more extreme. They still surf and skydive, albeit with wingsuits and jet skis towing them in to the biggest waves.
Edgar Ramirez plays Bodhi and has thought deeply about Bodhi’s philosophy. Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi was robbing banks to pay for his surfing and skydiving excursions, and for the adrenaline rush itself.
Ramirez’s Bodhi is giving money back to the people who’ve been cheated, and trying to save the planet from corrupt corporations. His methods still require FBI agent Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) to go undercover. We sat down with Ramirez to talk about the new Bodhi and all the extreme action captured in the new Point Break.
The name Johnny Utah is more of a source of guilt for his character. Does Bodhi have a different meaning for you than the original?
I mean, Bodhisattva is enlightened in the Buddhist philosophy, religion, tradition. He’s enlightened.
This is the thing. It’s fine, I don’t really fight it, but many people use the term zen and terms like nirvana, enlightenment in an almost superficial way. It’s not that complicated. Being enlightened is just being aware. It’s just being aware of something that you weren’t aware before. So when they say he’s very zen, I mean, there’s nothing zen about blowing up a mine. There’s nothing zen about going to a bank and robbing the bank. There’s nothing zen about that because it’s violent and zen has nothing to do with violence. So that is something that people tend to forget.
Just because he has this philosophy, but there’s nothing more dangerous than a Buddhist who’s pissed off. Look what happened in Nepal a couple years ago. An entire royal family got killed by Buddhist monks.
In the end, these guys live by their principals and they die by their principals. So their whole zen thing, of course he has a philosophy that has to do with being aware, with being awake and not kidding themselves with climate summits and protocols and all of that where they know that corporations will find a way to just go around those protocols and those treaties that get signed by politicians and then just keep doing the same thing. They know that.
Did you share any of Bodhi’s philosophy?
There was a whole decade of celebration of materialism. Actually there was no moral or ethical conflict in accumulating things, in being materially successful. That was the goal of society.
The whole trickle down theory, let’s get richer and richer because eventually it will trickle down. The reality is that 24 years later, that proved wrong and false. It actually proved the opposite. Actually people got poorer and the environment got deeply impacted and hit by it. Of course, these are reflections that I had flashes of going in and during the process, and after I finished the film.
The reality is that not only were we massively hit in 2008 when the bubble burst and then we realized how deep the social gap, the economic gap in the world is between the super rich and the poor. Also we realized how impacted the environment has been. So there’s been a physical consequence of that.
Of course these guys, his rebellious spirit translates with higher stakes into this new context, when we’ve realized that that promise has been broken. So these guys, Bodhi and his friends in the film, they have a direct interaction with nature. So they’re not removed. They don’t live as we do in cities where we go to get groceries at supermarkets. These guys are very close to it.
From a point of view they’re radicals. From their point of view, they’re just doing what they need to do in order to defend the very thing that gives them life.
The FBI calls them eco-terrorists. Does the course correction for such a great wrong have to be as extreme as the wrong?
Yeah, and that’s what makes the film interesting. I think that’s what makes my character interesting because there’s a very fine line. There’s a very thin line between being a militant and probably being a terrorist. That is the thing.
Are you judged by your actions or your motivations? The reality is that the motivation might be in this case valid, understandable. But the consequences and the actions are really extreme. People are getting either killed or they might get killed. There’s a line that they’re crossing. So it’s a delicate balance and I think that’s what makes the movie, the film dramatic. The same thing in the first one. They’re robbing banks until they cross that line. They think that they’re being harmless because they’re just using the guns to intimidate, but when you’re playing around with guns, eventually you will have to use them.
That’s what happens. There’s a line that they cross. That’s the drama of the film.
It’s only a small part of this version, but did you wear either the Bush or Obama mask?
I was the Obama mask. I was lucky.
Is it a different kind of performance in a mask that’s only going to be seen on video?
No, you just don’t see the face. You’re not thinking in those terms. You’re wearing the mask. Same thing with the goggles and all of that. You don’t change. We’re doing the snowboard scene, you can hardly recognize who’s who. No, you’re really thinking in those terms.
Have you ever made a movie this international before?
Yeah, Carlos. We also went to different places but this remote, never. It was the first time.
I think this is one of the very few movies that is made that way and probably one of the last films. It’s very difficult to make movies on this scale. It’s not only the countries that we went to and that we went around the world. It’s the access that we had to very difficult and challenging and remote locations, in places that in 30 years won’t be there, places that will disappear.
As epic as the locations were, it felt very intimate with Bodhi and Utah. Did you have a sense of intimacy even in those epic places?
Yeah, because we were a small group of people and because we were all together as Ericson explained. We were living in tents. We were staying in little hostels, little cabins and cottages everywhere. So it feels, as he said, more than a film production. It felt more as an expedition. We’re really going around the world capturing our experiences on film. Yes, it was always a very intimate environment, both in front of the camera and behind the camera. We were very close with each other.
It’s seamless when it switches from you guys to the athletes. Did it feel seamless when they took over?
No, it was very clear. There was no way for us to be not even an inch close to the real thing. We would’ve died. So we were always at the beginning, like the second before the stunt, and at the very end. So in the same locations, everything. Yeah, for example, in the surf scene, we were the ones being towed by the jet skis, both of us. Luke and I, we were actually one behind the other. Then as we were approaching the wave, then we would turn around and then the real surfers would take over and complete the scene.
Were you athletic? Had you surfed or rock climbed?
No, I learned for the film. I’m athletic because I keep myself active. I’m a boxer also, because of the other film that’s coming out next year, Hands of Stone, that I shot with Robert De Niro where I play Roberto Duran. I trained more than a year for that film. I had just finished that film when I was offered Point Break so I was lucky to be already in good form for the physical challenges of this film. So that helped me a lot, to learn how to surf quicker, to learn how to rock climb quicker.
Do you look for roles that will require that kind of preparation?
Yeah, I look for roles that allow me to immerse in different worlds, immerse in worlds that are different from mine. Then when you finish a film, you’re a different person. I look for that. I look to be impacted, to be transformed, changed by my roles. That’s why I do this.
Point Break opens in theaters on Christmas Day.
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