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How Dwayne Johnson convinced Emily Blunt to join 'Jungle Cruise' - and her Indiana Jones-y request

By James Comtois
Jungle Cruise: What to Know About Disney's Latest Ride-to-Screen Movie Ahead of Its Swashbuckling Debut

Disney’s delayed Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt will be upon us next week, with the A Quiet Place star doing more swashbuckling than her pro-wrestling acting partner (who serves more as her comic foil/sidekick). But a new cover story from The Hollywood Reporter digging into the upcoming film reveals that Blunt needed some convincing to come aboard — and even then, she had some notes. 

Per the report, after filming Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place in immediate succession, Blunt wanted some time off. So, not only was she originally uninterested in the offer to take on the role of Dr. Lily Houghton, she declined to even read the script. Even an impassioned letter from Disney’s live action studio chief Sean Bailey didn’t convince her. 

So, what did? Well, in addition to getting some of that Disney money, part of it was Johnson’s heartfelt plea. Though they had never met, Johnson had been impressed with Blunt since seeing her in The Devil Wears Prada, and thought she was perfect for the role. So, when Jungle Cruise director Jaume Collet-Serra planned to fly to New York to deliver the script to Blunt, Johnson asked him to also send her a video that Johnson filmed pleading with her to accept.

“I must have shot it about five or six times because I had not communicated with Emily yet,” Johnson told THR. “I had not even met her. And I wanted to let her know via this video just how important she was to this movie and how I only wanted her in this movie. And it was great. And I … I actually never heard again from Emily. Didn’t respond at all. Just ghosted me.”

Ghosting aside, did it work? Well, she’s in the movie, isn’t she?

“I thought the video was sweet,” said Blunt. “Didn’t know [he was] going to be so sensitive.” So, with Johnson’s “sweet” video and the director’s pitch that Jungle Cruise would be in the same vein as the Indiana Jones films or Romancing the Stone, she read the script and accepted. 

But not so fast. If Jungle Cruise was indeed going to be reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with her in the Indy role, then she had some notes. As producer Beau Flynn explained, she wanted to chuck a lot of excessive backstory for her character. 

“She brought a great point out to us, which is, ‘How come a lot of male figures just get to be adventurers, or explorers?’ There’s no backstory in Indiana Jones. He’s just a badass archeologist,” Flynn told the publication. 

The interview was conducted while Johnson was wrapping shooting for DC’s Black Adam, which Johnson described as a role he's been building up to his entire career. Meanwhile, Blunt reiterated that she’s not interested in joining the MCU or DC Extended Universe anytime soon.

“I really understand that [superhero movies] are like a religion for a lot of people,” said Blunt. “They don’t appeal to me in the same way. I don’t have this burning desire to play a superhero.”

Jungle Cruise begins its voyage in theaters and on Disney+ on Friday, July 30.