The last time we spoke to Edgar Ramirez, the world was a cheerier place — relatively speaking, of course. It was back in September, before the release of “The Girl on the Train.” Specifically, it was the day of the first presidential debate. Some of us were nervous yet cautiously optimistic, hoping Hillary Clinton would sway Trump voters to her side. Ramirez wasn’t feeling it. When we speak again, this time for his new movie “Gold,” he stops short of saying “I told you so.”
“I come from Venezuela; for us it was easier to see it coming,” the actor ("Carlos," "Joy") tells us. He’s not even surprised that America’s new president has not backed down on his volcanic, unpredictable rhetoric, or that he looks like he’ll fulfill some of his scarier campaign promises. “I think those guys always try to do what they said they were going to do.”
On paper, “Gold” doesn’t sound like a distraction from our problems. It tells the story of Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey), a floundering businessman who strikes big on Wall Street when he claims to have found gold buried deep in the Indonesian jungle. Ramirez plays Michael Acosta, the geologist tasked with helping him locate and mine it. Things don’t go according to plan. And yet Ramirez argues that the film — semi-loosely based on the 1993 Bre-X mining scandal — offers hope, on top of a stark look at greed.
On top of being an actor, you’re also a journalist. This is a scary time for reporters, because we’re dealing with an unhinged, possible kleptocrat who has trained his followers to distrust the media.
You’ve got to be very careful not to buy into the craziness. Because it’s contagious. We’re human beings in the end; we’re permeable. You’ve got to be very careful not to respond in the same manner. It’s very important to stay grounded. Because it’s very easy to buy into the chaos. You get tired of listening to the things that aren’t right, that are contradictory. You feel you’re being lied to your face, that your reason is being challenged in a very cheap way. However, it’s important not to buy into the brutality of it all.
It’s easy to watch this film and feel like it’s another grim reminder of what’s going on in the world today, when greed is being encouraged, when our president may only be out for himself. But the relationship between Kenny and Mike winds up being one of true friendship.
What I find so interesting and moving and beautiful is that, yes, the story exists in a world driven by greed, yet you have these two characters who are not in it for the money and the wealth and the power. They’re in it for the gold. The gold, for them, means self-respect and self-worth. It’s a world where everybody is trying to take everybody else down, yet you have two characters who manage to be loyal to each other and keep their word. In a time when words mean nothing, or some people are trying to devaluate the worth of words, these guys keep their word.
They’re not always doing the right thing, though, which makes them more interesting.
They’re not perfect; they’re flawed. They’re not indifferent or exempt from the anti-values of the world they live in. But they’re loyal. Their agreement is based on a handshake. That’s beautiful. That’s very refreshing. That gives me hope.