10 Actors to Watch
Bow Wow | Cecile De France | Garrett Hedlund | Jennifer Lawrence | Logan Lerman | Rooney Mara | Lucy Punch | Edgar Ramirez | Andrea Riseborough | June Temple


In “Carlos,” the expansive biopic of the Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, Edgar Ramirez plays the title role. In “The Bourne Ultimatum,” he was the professional baddie hired to eliminate Matt Damon’s character.

What’s with all the bombs and bullets and international antipathy? Well, Ramirez is particularly qualified for that milieu. The Venezuelan actor grew up as the son of a soldier, his suitcase had many travel stickers and he is fluent in five languages. But when it comes to choosing roles, he aims for the inner target.

“I don’t see my career as a checklist,” says the 33-year-old Ramirez while basking in the glow of “Carlos” raves from the festival circuit. “I don’t say, ‘I did this, so now I should do that.’ For me, it has to do with how the character — whether big or small — speaks to me in a very particular part of my life. Complexity is always something I will look for, and it’s not always easy to find.”

After a passel of challenging film and TV parts, including a turn in Tony Scott’s 2005 actioner “Domino,” the role of Carlos actually found him.

“I was shooting a movie in Colombia and read the script and loved it immediately,” he explains. “I was supposed to do another movie at the time, so it wasn’t clear if I would be able to do it, but I wanted a chance to sit down with (director) Olivier (Assayas), because I’ve always been a fan of his.

“I flew to Paris one night when we weren’t shooting, and we spent the whole night talking, and it became pretty clear that we had to do this movie together.”

Ramirez possesses an abiding obsession with the human condition, and because of that he was able to look at Carlos as more than just a notorious criminal.

“It has to do with a deep fascination for human nature, in all its lights and all its darkness,” said Ramirez, who is currently poring over scripts to determine his next project.

“I think that contradiction defines us as human beings. As an actor, it’s a matter of finding the most poetic way to embrace and understand human nature.”

LUCKY BREAK: “Definitely ‘Domino.’ It was the movie that somehow opened the doors for my career to move to an international level. I’m very grateful to Tony Scott and the people who trusted me at that moment.”

FAVORITE FILM: “From ‘Dancer in the Dark’ to ‘The Matrix’ trilogy. I’m very eclectic in terms of the movies I like.”

THE CAREER I’D LIKE TO EMULATE: “I admire careers such as William Hurt, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Gerard Depardieu, Matt Damon.”