Paul Giamatti had lots of praise for not only the script of Disney’s Jungle Cruise, but for his hilarious cockatoo sidekick as well.
By Dan Conlin
Published 13 hours ago
Sometimes, there’s nothing like a classic campy villain, and it seems like nobody knows that better than Disney. Well, maybe every comic book ever created could also make that claim. But today, Disney is the one flexing. Its upcoming theme park ride movie Jungle Cruise looks to be committing to that whole idea, and the actor behind one of its gleeful baddies is only too happy to take part in the process.
Paul Giamatti, perhaps best known for being that one guy from that one movie, appears to have had the time of his life hamming up his comparatively small role in Jungle Cruise. Speaking in a recent interview between takes, the American Splendor actor had high praise for not only the rather zany script but for the production team?that allowed him to make the role his own. Kind of like Johnny Depp’s take on Captain Jack Sparrow, except with less of a Keith Richards vibe.
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”It’s really nutty. It was strange and kind of fantastical. I liked it a lot,” Giamatti said when asked about the script by Collider. “I thought it was really a wacky script. They gave me a lot of latitude with the character, which was nice.” What’s notable about Giamatti’s role is that his character, the cartoonishly villainous harbormaster named Nilo, is actually a rather minor role in the grand scheme of things. While not the main antagonist like Jesse Plemons’ Prince Joachim, it seems like Nilo may end up in a similar situation to Michael Mando’s Vaas from Far Cry 3, who broke out of his own small-ish role in the story to become the game’s biggest standout character.
It turns out the filmmakers gave Giamatti a lot of leeway in how he played the character, even allowing him to build Nilo from the ground up to an extent. That freedom included his cockatoo friend, Rosita. While he originally wanted a monkey as his partner, once a cockatoo was suggested instead, he loved the idea. “She’s a lot of fun and she has a sort of key little thing throughout the sequence,” he said about his bird buddy. “She’s very sweet.”
Jungle Cruise, like previous entries in the bizarrely prolific “Disneyland rides turned into movies” film genre, tells a story that’s largely a vehicle to cram in as many references to its namesake as possible. That’s not to say it looks like it won’t be very good. In fact, Giamatti’s own enthusiasm for it all definitely lends it an air of legitimacy. The film also stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt?as an intrepid adventuring riverboat captain and passionate scientist, respectively, hoping to find the mysterious Tree of Life (how about that? A crossover between Disney parks.)
So between its campy script and a stellar cast, Jungle Cruise may be more than just some cash grab. Frankly, it might still be one, but at least Disney seems intent on making it look like it isn’t. Either way, however it turns out, there had better be a metric deluge of animal puns being flung at the audience throughout the whole experience.
Jungle Cruise releases on Disney?Plus Premier Access (for $30) and in theaters beginning July 30th, 2021.
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