Now on DVD: Edgar Ramirez ‘almost broke’ while training for ‘Hands of Stone’

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The Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor, Edgar Ramirez, is one of those actors who pops up in some of the biggest movies by some of the biggest directors, yet seems to fly under the radar at the same time. Among others, he’s worked with Tony Scott in Domino; Paul Greengrass in The Bourne Ultimatum; Steven Soderbergh in Che; Kathryn Bigelow in Zero Dark Thirty; Ridley Scott in The Counselor; and David O. Russell in Joy. In his latest film, he stars as boxing legend, Roberto Duran, in Hands of Stone.

Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, this biopic follows Duran’s rise from a two-fisted street urchin in Panama to a gifted amateur known for Round 1 knockouts. Along the way, he gains fame, riches and the love of Felicidad (Ana de Armas), before a chance meeting with boxing coach Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro). At age 72, legendary trainer Arcel comes out of retirement to coach the world-class boxer.

Arcel becomes a mentor to the ferocious fighter, convincing him that winning ultimately comes down to strategy. takes his fighting skills to a level where he can defeat American champion Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond). The lessons Arcel teaches his protégé about psychological cleverness in and out of the ring carries Duran through the darkest part of his career, when the notorious “No más” rematch against Leonard threatens to derail his entire legacy. There was no way that Ramirez was going to say “no más” to the part.

“When Jonathan called me up and showed me the script, I was very excited. When I read how relevant his life beyond boxing was, for an entire country, therefore, an entire region, I was even more excited. I don’t believe in absolute evil. I don’t believe in absolute goodness. Duran is full of contradictions, but he gravitates towards light. He’s tough, but he’s tender at the same time. He can be very vulnerable, but very brutal. I found that very interesting.”

Though Duran could be brutal, Ramirez’s training regimen was even more brutal.

“I trained and trained and trained and trained until I almost broke. I trained many hours a day for seven or eight months before the shoot. It was very important for me to be a boxer on my own and to learn how to fight before I even tried to learn Duran’s technique and movement. Without me living my life as a boxer, it would have been impossible for me to step into his shoes. It’s like wanting to be a mountain climber and going to Everest right away. You can’t do it. You have to take it step by step. It was important for me to feel the struggle and the hardship of being a boxer being trying to imitate and emulate his style.”

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Frederick Mintchell

Frederick is a featured writer for Morning Ticker, where this post originally appeared.

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