TIFF 2018 Exclusive: Anthony Ramos Talks A Star Is Born & Monsters and MenPosted by Wilson Morales
September 25, 2018
Coming out on Oct. 5 from Warner Bros. is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut ‘A Star Is Born‘ starring Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Andrew Dice Clay, Anthony Ramos and Rafi Gavron.
The story is about a an famed aging, alcoholic country musician who mentors/is schooled by and then finds romance with a younger female star was first done in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Judy Garland and James Mason starred in the 1954 remake, and Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson were in the 1976 version.
In the remake, Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a country music star on the brink of decline when he discovers a talented unknown named Ally. As the two begin a passionate love affair, he coaxes her into the spotlight, catapulting her to stardom. But as her career quickly eclipses his own, he finds it increasingly hard to handle his fading glory.
For Anthony Ramos, who’s best known for playing John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton in the Tony Award winning musical Hamilton: An American Musical, he plays Ally’s best friend Ramon. In the last few years, the Brooklyn, New York native has been blessed with some great acting on the big and small screen. Last year, he captured the role of Mars Blackmon in Spike Lee and Netflix’s series She’s Gotta Have It, which will be back for a second season; and he’s got another film coming out prior to A Star Ins Born. In Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, which premiere at Sundance earlier this year, Ramos plays one of the lead roles where his character Manny witnesses and records the death of his friend by a cop and has to decided what to do with the recording.
In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Ramos talked about working with Lady Gaga on A Star Is Born, and also working opposite his girlfriend Jasmine Cephas Jones in Monsters and Men.
How did this project come to you?
Anthony Ramos: I put myself on tape probably February and came back around in April. They were like ‘Yeah, they want to see you for this role again’ and I was like ‘Wow, damn.’ I saw the names on the marquee, and you get that breakdown and it’s Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, and it just goes on and on. I was like ‘I’ll never get this part’ but here we are, Toronto Film Festival. Three auditions later.
How would you best describe your character?
Anthony Ramos: He’s her best friend, he’s that real person in her life that supports her til the end, whether she’s singing in the living room or singing in a stadium. He’s that guy that tells her he loves her when she’s going through stuff in the good and the bad. He’s there for her 100 percent and supports her to the fullest and just wants to see her win, no matter what. In a way, Ramon, besides her dad, is like that secret kind of backbone for her, that gives her that little nudge whenever she needs it. Then we see Bradley and Ali’s relationship unfold, and then we see Bradley become that for her but Ramon always still being that constant real one in her life.
You’ve got a musical background, but you’re not singing in the film. Why not?
Anthony Ramos: I had written a few songs as I came into the movie, but I was one of the last cast members to be added. Bradley didn’t even know I was writing songs until someone may have told-
He did know you were Hamilton though, right?
Anthony Ramos: He did. He did and he wanted me to sing in the film. There was a moment where I possibly was going to sing. I sent them a few songs, he picked one. We tried it in the scene but the story, like Bradley said, the story is always the master when it comes to making a new thing then and the song really didn’t fit with the story as much as it did when we filmed it.
Now most of your scenes were with Gaga. Can you talk about that chemistry and getting to know her, during the film and even now. Is there a friendship or is it just work?
Anthony Ramos: Yeah, Stefani’s dope. We’ve only really worked together and hung out on set but every time we’ve got to spend time with one another, it’s been amazing. It’s been so dope and it’s really been special and every little moment we get, when there’s so many people around and all the time, any nuggets you get, any moments of just me and her are really cherished still and it’s dope now being on this journey together with this movie and getting good responses. Still, we’re all getting to know each other. It was so fast and furious.
You also have Monsters and Men around the same time. You’re one of the leading actors along with John David Washington and Kelvin Harrison Jr.. Can you about doing that role for director Reinaldo Marcus Green?
Anthony Ramos: That was awesome. That was the complete opposite experience from this. It was a small indie and we shot that in New York. I did probably seven days on that movie because I was shooting Godzilla in Atlanta at the same time. But it was a blessing to come to set. And when you’re shooting a movie like that, being able to be with the director and the DP Pat Scoli and I’m involved in the conversations as far as what the shots are going to be and maybe how we should set this up or maybe we should try this, we should try that. It was so collaborative dude and I’m from Brooklyn and I said, ‘That’s a Brooklyn story.’
Did you watch the Eric Garner tape before or after?
Anthony Ramos: I did. I watched it before. I had seen it already and it’s something. It’s crazy to think that cops are getting away with stuff like that. That people can get away with doing that and getting caught on tape and then not reprimanded. You know, I think it’s tough to swallow but to be a part of a film that gives so many perspectives. We also get to see the perspective of a cop, which I have many cops in my family and I’ve had many of these conversations with them. So to see it on screen, which I’ve never seen before, was something that was truly special to me and I think it’s going to be something that is unique from any other movie that has ever been made about this particular topic. So I’m grateful to be a part of this.
Can talk to be about working with Jasmine Cephas Jones?
Anthony Ramos: Working with Jasmine, being able to work with my other half, that’s the dream. We worked together in Hamilton and that’s how we met. We’ve been together for three and a half years now and it’s been amazing. And then now, fast forward, you’re working with your girl on this film and we’re in this apartment and I see her come out the room after she changes into her costume for the first time with this pregnant belly and you know, we ain’t got a kid. But there was this level of excitement and nervousness and joy that came over me to see her come out. And it was funny, in the fitting room I would like feel on her belly and there’s no baby in there obviously but it was just so dope to pretend, pretend to live this life that we’re not living but God willing, we hope to live together later on.
She’s Gotta Have It Season 2 is coming up so what are we expecting from your character this year?
Anthony Ramos: It’s a whole new page. We got a lot of good surprises. We traveled this year which is amazing. We went to Martha’s Vineyard and we went to Puerto Rico. So the Puerto Rico episode, in my personal opinion, is my 100 percent favorite. I’ve been working with an organization that’s been doing a lot of work after the hurricane out there and Spike knew about it and Lemon Andersen, one of our writers on the show, introduced me. He was the one that made the introduction with the Maria Fund and we were able to incorporate something incredible and meaningful stuff into the show this season that I’m incredibly proud of and excited for the people to see. I saw some clips in ADR and I’m super hyped bro. This Puerto Rico episode is about to be special for some.