“They can be very vulnerable,” Ramirez told Deadline yesterday before the Cannes screening of Hands of Stone, “These men are larger than life, they’re titans, and in people’s perceptions they can beat anyone. They’re invincible, but we know they’re not.”
Hands of Stone follows the rise of Duran from the El Chorrillo slums to becoming the Welterweight Champion of the World in “The Brawl in Montreal” on June 20, 1980, beating the then-undefeated Sugar Ray Leonard. The fought in Olympic Stadium, the same place where Leonard won an Olympic gold medal during the 1976 Summer Games. Following the fight, Leonard realized Duran’s clever psychological tactics, and a rematch was organized for five months later, with Duran set to make $8M. Following his title, Duran went on a wild celebration binge, and only had three months to get himself in shape. During the eighth round of the rematch, after Leonard’s taunting and change-up in footwork, Duran quit the fight, infamously declaring, “No mas.” Various reasons prevails as to why Duran put his gloves up.
De Niro, who plays Duran’s trainer Ray Arcel in Hands of Stone, knew the Panamanian brawler at the time when he walked out of the ring, and the actor relays his feelings about that moment in the above clip.
Some actors prefer to stay an arm’s length away from their onscreen subjects, so they can bring their own spin to their performances, however for both Ramirez and Usher, who plays Leonard, “The devil is in the details.” Both actors relied heavily on the people they portray, with Ramirez moving to Panama to be close to Duran and his family.
Said Usher about Leonard, “He in some way represented the idea of the perception of what boxing had become, and maybe in some way Duran was very angry at the fact that he was recognized and yet so graceful as an Olympian.”
A tribute to the career work of De Niro was held last night at the Grand Theatre Lumiere prior to the Hands of Stone screening, which received a 15-minute standing ovation. The Weinstein Co. opens Hands of Stone stateside on August 26.