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After it was pushed back from its original October 2019 release date to July 2020 before being pushed back another whole year, the time has finally come that we get to see Dwayne Johnson visit "the backside of water." In Jungle Cruise, based on the popular Disneyland attraction of the same name, The Rock plays a sea boat captain enlisted to help guide an eccentric scientist, played by Emily Blunt, on a quest to find the Tree of Life during World War I. While it is easy to tell that this is destined to be one of the biggest 2021 movies with such huge stars in the lead, there are many other big names in the Jungle Cruise cast to look forward to seeing.
Dwayne Johnson (Frank Wolff)
Playing a hero named Frank who runs a slightly sketchy river tour operation until he's hired by Emily Blunt’s character for an entirely different purpose is The Rock. He first transitioned from wrestling to acting playing his father on That ‘70s Show before making his film debut in 2001’s The Mummy Returns as The Scorpion King.
He first became friendly with Disney with family films like The Game Plan before the Fast and Furious movies certified him as a franchise rejuvenator and box office draw. After the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle star returns to the jungle again, he will re-team with Jungle Cruise director Jaume Collet-Serra for Black Adam (one of the most anticipated DC movies), return to California for a Big Trouble in Little China sequel, and revisit Hawaii for Robert Zemeckis’ Kamehameha biopic, The King.
Emily Blunt (Dr. Lily Houghton)
It is actually surprising that it took until now for Dwayne Johnson and Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt (who plays Lily Houghton, a woman on a quest to find a mythical tree in the Amazon that can cure any ailment) to join forces. For one, she is also a Disney darling, with Mary Poppins Returns and others, and has led action-packed blockbusters like the A Quiet Place movies (directed by and co-starring her husband John Krasinski).
The British beauty first got America’s attention with 2006’s The Devil Wears Prad, which led to an impressively versatile career, ranging from sci-fi thrillers like Looper to dark indie dramedies like Sunshine Cleaning to light rom-coms like The Five-Year Engagement with Jason Segel. Blunt does not seem interested in granting many fans’ wish to see her play Invisible Woman in the Marvel movies, but could follow Jungle Cruise by reprising her Edge of Tomorrow role if the long-awaited sequel ever happens, that is.
Jack Whitehall (MacGregor Houghton)
Playing the role of MacGregor Houghton, the brother of Lily who accompanies her on the voyage is Jack Whitehall, who may finally make a splash with American audiences by starring in Jungle Cruise. This is not to say, however, that the British comedian does not already have a following in the States, having starred in 2016’s Mother’s Day, the hit Amazon Prime original miniseries Good Omens in 2019, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (his first collaboration with Disney) a year earlier. Later in 2021, Whitehall will appear in the live-action Clifford the Big Red Dog movie and is slated to star in two very unique upcoming romance movies called Silent Retreat and Robots.
Paul Giamatti (Nilo Nemolato)
As Nilo Nemolato, who manages the port where Frank keeps his boat, we have Paul Giamatti, who has been acting since the ‘90s, appearing in bit parts in movies like Jim Carrey’s The Truman Show and the Saving Private Ryan cast before he earned his first Golden Globe nomination for 2004’s Sideways, which made him a household name. He has since become an Oscar nominee for Cinderella Man, a Golden Globe and Emmy winner for HBO’s John Adams miniseries, a Marvel villain (Rhino) in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a shady record producer in the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, and even Santa Claus in 2007’s Fred Claus with Vince Vaughn.
Jungle Cruise marks Paul Giamatti's second collaboration with Disney after Saving Mr. Banks and his second collaboration with Dwayne Johnson after San Andreas from 2015. He. is also a series regular on Showtime’s Billions and will reportedly reunite with Sideways director Alexander Payne for The Holdovers.
Jesse Plemons (Prince Joachim)
Prince Joachim, the one who steals the arrowhead from Emily Blunt and attacks Dwayne Johnson's boat from a submarine in the Jungle Cruise trailer, is played by Jesse Plemons. He has has proved that he can play a good bad guy as Todd on the Breaking Bad cast, in one of the best Black Mirror episodes (“U.S.S. Callister”), in the dark comedy Game Night, Netflix’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and as a morally bankrupt FBI agent in Judas and the Black Messiah most recently.
Jungle Cruise could technically qualify as the latest of his multiple Disney projects, having appeared in Twentieth Century Fox’s Like Mike as a teen and Fargo - FX’s anthology series based on the 1996 Coen Brothers movie. The former Friday Night Lights cast member also worked with Steven Spielberg on Bridge of Spies, was directed by Martin Scorsese for The Irishman and the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon, narrated Vice, and his role in Antlers (one of the most anticipated upcoming horror movies) will finally hit the screen in October. 2021.
Édgar Ramírez (Aguirre)
Also playing one of the villains in Jungle Cruise, named Aguirre, is Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez, who has played everybody from Gianni Versace to the role of Bohdi in the remake of Point Break after breaking out in Hollywood in a small The Bourne Ultimatum part. This led to getting second billing in the possession thriller Deliver Us From Evil, the lead in sports biopic Hands of Stone, and a few Netflix movies, including 2017’s Bright and the family comedy Yes Day in 2021. Following Jungle Cruise (his second film with Emily Blunt after The Girl on the Train) Ramírez will reunite with his Zero Dark Thirty co-star Jessica Chastain in Netflix’s The 355 and has joined the Borderlands cast for Eli Roth’s film adaptation of the popular video game series.
Veronica Falcón (Trader Sam)
Portraying a gender-swapped version of Trader Sam - a classic character from the original Jungle Cruise attraction - is Veronica Falcón, who made her English-language debut in the 2007 thriller Not Forgotten years before starring alongside The Suicide Squad’s Alice Braga on USA’s Queen of the South and on HBO’s Perry Mason series reboot later in 2020. The following year has been huge for the Mexican actress so far, from a small part on the Falcon and Winter Soldier cast, a large part on the Why Women Kill cast, and an appearance in the latest of the Purge movies, The Forever Purge. Falcón will next star on Ozark Season 4, in The Starling alongside Melissa McCarthy and Timothy Olyphant, and Apple TV+’s Mr. Corman with creator and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Andy Nyman (Sir James Hobbs-Coddington)
Another British actor who could likely call Jungle Cruise the most high-profile credit on his resume to date (at least to American audiences) is Andy Nyman, who previously worked with director Jaume Collet-Serra on the Liam Neeson action thriller The Commuter in 2019. Much earlier, he starred in the original Death at a Funeral from 2007, played The Tumor in Kick-Ass 2, and appeared on Netflix’s Peaky Blinders as Winston Churchill. The co-writer, co-director, and star of Ghost Stories - one of the most acclaimed anthology horror movies in recent memory - also played a Jail Guard in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had a recurring role in Amazon’s series reboot of Hanna, and starred in the Academy Award-winning biopic Judy in 2019.
It looks like the Jungle Cruise cast may help drive Disney’s latest theme park attraction-based movie toward a treasure trove of riches.