Danny Ramirez 'No Exit'©20th Century Studios
Exclusive Interview

Danny Ramirez talks about approaching difficult roles with empathy

He stars in “No Exit,” premiering on Hulu this February 25th.

Danny Ramirez has had a crazy couple of years. From starring in “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” and nabbing roles in a blockbuster alongside Tom Cruise and Miles Teller, his career blew up within the span of months. “No Exit” is his latest film, and it’s something completely different.

'No Exit' poster©20th Century Studios
The film stars Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, Dennis Haysberth, Dale Dickey and more.

Premiering this February 25th on Hulu, the film is a thriller but also a mishmash of genres, having some body horror moments and bits that feel like they belong in a disaster movie. It follows Darby (Havana Rose Liu), an addict in recovery, who escapes her rehabilitation center in the midst of a snowstorm to visit her sick mother. As she waits for the storm to pass, she stops by a mall center, where she’s trapped with five mysterious strangers.

Danny Ramirez plays a key role in the film. As Ash, his role keeps viewers guessing, a performance that asks him to balance several things at once. He spoke to HOLA! USA to discuss his interest in making films like “No Exit” and how he managed to get into the headspace of his character.

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Over the past couple of years you’ve made this great impact on TV and film. You’re on “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” and soon will be in “Top Gun: Maverick.” But you’re also doing more niche films, like “No Exit.” Do you have a philosophy when choosing these parts?

I wish I could say in the beginning there was, just because there were so limited roles when I was first starting out. I had more things that I wouldn’t do, which was just like stereotypical Latinx characters that didn’t drive the plot, but beyond that I was like ‘I have to pay my rent and put food on the table’ (laughs). So, in the beginning, with “On My Block,” I thought it was going to be very important because it was a predominantly Latinx cast and I was just like ‘Ok, I have to try to do that.’ But the rest, I just started having the ability to pick projects. I think “No Exit” was something that I just wanted to do from the moment that I read it. And then when I got the callback and talked to Damien [Damien Power, the director] about it I was like ‘Oh, I want to do it even more’, because it’s a thriller but it’s also very layered. His way into it was like ‘no one is perfect.’ Everyone has their flaws, and we put all of these characters in the same room and we see what happens. Choosing roles is a little bit of luck, and then, with the parts that I get really excited about, sometimes things tend to work out because they draw that extra passion from you.

“No Exit” is crazy, I had such a great time watching it. I think there are so many things that work well. But definitely, my favorite part is the buildup between your character and Darby. You think the script is going in one direction but then it goes somewhere else. What was your favorite part about the project?

I think collaborating with everyone because by the end of the shoot we were like a little family. Every single day was the same set, which was built in a studio. The entire house that you see is all built into a warehouse ⁠— the trees, the forest, everything. It was like stepping into a little snow globe and playing. Being able to do that for two and a half months was one of the most fun experiences. It definitely had trying times because it was a cocktail of emotions. At a certain point, the movie starts cranking at a really high speed. It was like feeling every possible emotion because it’s such a dynamic story. As it flips on the audience, it also flips on us. The energy in the air changes when you don’t know who you trust. It was just a wonderful experience to do it with everyone.

Going a little bit into more spoiler territory, there are some pretty terrible characters in the film, but they’re all so layered and no one is a caricature. How did you make your character feel real?

A big part of it was… We had two weeks of quarantine in New Zealand before we even started. So I was sitting in a room alone. I think one of the most important things Damien and Scott [Scott Frank, the film’s producer] brought up was to make the characters feel like real people, justifying what makes someone do these actions, which I disagree with wholeheartedly and are repulsive and disgusting, and then trying to feel where in the chain of brutality these people were infected in order to so something this as bad. With the story, you kind of see the avalanche that’s created from before and how that sweeps the characters and then they continue to do these things. I’m trying to avoid spoilers. I tried to empathize with Ash, figure out what tweaked him and what was his damage and how that manifests into his actions, how he excuses them. The book that I was reading… Oh my God, it just slipped my mind. But it was this book about toxic masculinity. I’m gonna be laughed at by David and Havana because during the entire shoot I just kept bringing this book up (laughs). It slipped my mind. But I was trying to base my character off of these toxic masculine traits and then cranking them up a little bit and layering a bunch of insecurity and that was my way into Ash.

You can tell. No character in this film is a cookie-cutter villain, no one can fit neatly into any boxes.

I’ll try to send you that book once I remember the name (laughs).

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