Whether or not you were a fan of HBO‘s drama The Undoing or the Netflix movie Yes Day, both projects seemed to catch on with audiences, and the one element they had in common was Edgar Ramirez, who has just been cast as the villain in Eli Roth‘s Borderlands movie based on the popular video game.
Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will star as the game’s legendary thief, Lilith, while Kevin Hart will play super soldier Roland, and his Jumanji co-star Jack Black will voice the sarcastic robot Claptrap. As for Ramirez, he’ll play the film’s villain, Atlas, a wealthy arms manufacturer and the most powerful person in the Borderlands universe.
Elsewhere, Jamie Lee Curtis will play the archeologist Tannis, Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War) will play teenage explosives expert Tiny Tina, and Florian Munteanu (Creed II) will play her fearless protector, the psychotic bandit Krieg. Finally, Haley Bennett will play a new character who may be the key to uncovering Lilith’s past.
“What an incredible honor to have an actor of Edgar‘s caliber, talent, and charisma playing opposite Cate Blanchett and this remarkable cast,” Roth told Deadline, which broke the news. “Atlas has to be a truly magnetic personality, someone with charisma and charm but that air of menace underneath it all. I’ve been a fan of Edgar‘s since his early performances and he continues to amaze me with each dramatic turn. We want to create something wild, fun, and very different from anything they’ve seen from Edgar before. I am so, so excited to work with him.”
Roth is directing the Borderlands movie from a script by Craig Mazin (Chernobyl), while Avi Arad and Ari Arad are producing via their Arad Productions banner along with Erik Feig of Picturestart. Gearbox founder Randy Pitchford will executive produce the film with Strauss Zelnick of Take-Two Interactive.
Borderlands is a step in the right direction for Ramirez, who announced himself as a true star with his riveting turn in Carlos, but hasn’t quite taken off the way I thought he would, largely because Hollywood doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with him. I remember when he was circling the lead in a Richard Kelly movie called Corpus Christi, and even though that movie never got made, it was the kind of weird indie I’d hoped Ramirez would explore as his star ascended. He is supposed to topline a Todd Solondz movie titled Love Child with Penelope Cruz, and it doesn’t get much more “weird” or “indie” than Todd Solondz, but Ramirez been stuck in some rough movies of late.
I’m fully aware that actors can’t control the final product, and that they’re at the mercy of the director, the editor, and most of all, the screenplay, but I thought The Last Days of American Crime and Wasp Network were two of the worst films of last year, to say nothing of semi-recent stinkers like Bright, The Girl on the Train and Point Break. And while I happened to enjoy Yes Day, part of me couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed for Ramirez, seeing Carlos the Jackal reduced to playing Lame Suburban Dad. I know Ramirez is better than these movies, and though the jury is still out on The 355 and Jungle Cruise, it’s the Borderlands movie that I have the most confidence in, oddly enough.
I think Ramirez could be a much bigger star if he’d caught a few breaks here and there, and perhaps he’d have already been drafted by Marvel or DC or the Star Wars franchise. Heck, there’s another universe where I think he’d make a nifty Indiana Jones. But for now, I’ll settle for a significant role in this star-studded Borderlands movie, which feels like it just might be a thing. For Ramirez‘s sake, I hope it is. Because I can’t keep watching Netflix do him dirty. This guy does have something special, and here’s hoping Roth is able to pull it out of him. Judging by the quote above, he knows the potential is there to creator a memorable villain together.