Emily Blunt inspired by Indiana Jones for Jungle Cruise role

LOS ANGELES – In The Walt Disney Co’s new Jungle Cruise movie, Emily Blunt plays a determined explorer on a mission to find an ancient tree that offers great potential to cure many of humanity’s ills.

She co-stars with Dwayne Johnson in the big-screen adventure, which opens in cinemas here on July 29 and was based on a Disneyland theme park ride known for groan-inducing jokes.

The British actress described her action hero character, scientist Lily Houghton, as an “adventurous, spirited girl” who will not conform to society’s expectations of women in 1917.

For one, Houghton dares to wear pants, a defiant choice at the time. Plus, she “ventures into the Amazon jungle in a pretty reckless way”, Blunt said.

“She is a really important character for girls and boys to see because she was a trailblazer. Trailblazers are always a bit eccentric, and they do crazy things.” 

Blunt liked that Houghton veers from many traditional on-screen roles for women.

“I always tell writers just write me as a guy and leave the girl stuff to me,” she said. 

“Just write me as multi-layered and full of faults, and full of the downfalls of what it is to be a human being.” 

Cast members Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt attend the premiere for the film "Jungle Cruise" at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, U.S., July 24, 2021. REUTERS

To play Houghton, Blunt said she was inspired by Indiana Jones, the iconic adventurer portrayed by Harrison Ford. 

“He’s not a slick action star,” she said. “He falls on his face. He’s scared of stuff.” 

US actor Johnson plays Frank Wolff, the riverboat skipper Houghton hires to take her and her brother (Jack Whitehall) on the perilous trek down the Amazon River. 

Frank is the “cheapest, most untrustworthy” option, Johnson said, but “very capable on a boat”.

And like the Disney ride operators, Frank revels in telling corny, pun-laden jokes. 

“He’s got sharp timing,” Johnson said, calling himself a “new-age pun slinger”.

One joke in the movie: “The rocks you see here in the river are sandstone, but some people just take them for granite.” 

“That’s the charm of the skippers,” Johnson said. “They tell these very bad puns that are so bad, they’re good.” - REUTERS