The 34-year-old Venezuelan powerhouse—who won awards for his portrayal of terrorist-assassin Ilich Ramírez Sánchez in the French miniseries Carlos in 2010 and wowed audiences in Vantage Point, The Bourne Supremacy, and Domino—tells Details how he gets into mental and physical shape for Wrath of the Titans, the sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans.
DETAILS: You play Ares, god of war, in Wrath of the Titans. What drew you to the character and the series?
Edgar Ramirez: Unlike Christianity or Judaism, where God is divorced from human feeling, Greek mythology cast its gods as direct projections of human emotion. The Greeks appealed to their gods to explain hopelessness and despair in their lives. These gods had flaws.
DETAILS: It must have been a lot of pressure, trying to capture both the rage and humanity inside a god like Ares.
Edgar Ramirez: It was a challenge. I had to break open what's known about his legend and make something relatable. How does a god speak? A god move? And the conditioning was intense. We were filming for six months, though I had all sorts of hand-to-hand combat, swordplay, and shieldplay for months before that.
DETAILS: Clash of the Titans cost $70,000,000, with special-effects flying horses, 30-foot "scorpioch" creatures, and more, and Wrath is set to follow suit. What was it like being inside a Hollywood film of this magnitude?
Edgar Ramirez: This is the first time I'm playing a character from a fantasy world. It's really fun to have such access to technology. At the same time, the work with my fellow actors [Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson, among others] and our director, Jonathan [Liebesman], was very creative, and very close. I never imagined that we'd experience that level of intimacy.
DETAILS: You received raves for your very realistic portrayal of 1970s terrorist Carlos the Jackal in the 2010 French miniseries Carlos. How did the warm reception of that project change your career?
Edgar Ramirez: I was excited to take on a character with so many contradictions. That story and character could have been a total disaster in someone else's hands, but [director Olivier Assayas] was so sensitive to its subtleties. It resulted in some of the most satisfying moments of my career. Of course, it's nice to be approached by amazing filmmakers. That's flattering.
Wrath of the Titans will be released March 30.