INTERVIEW MAGAZINE – It’s time to get into Danny Ramirez. He’s 29, born in Chicago, raised in Miami, and just stepped inside Tom Cruise’s cockpit for Top Gun: Maverick. Danny’s so busy, as he’s about to appear in Claire Denis’s The Stars at Noon, but he took a minute to tell all in our work questionnaire and model the tailoring look we should all be wearing right now: louche.
DANNY RAMIREZ: Anywhere but not everywhere.
INTERVIEW: Where are you now?
RAMIREZ: At an Airbnb, lying in bed, searching for an apartment in N.Y.C.
INTERVIEW: Who do you work with?
RAMIREZ: Storytellers and suits.
INTERVIEW: What’s your morning routine?
RAMIREZ: Watch the sunrise, chug water, stretch my calves, shower, coffee, read, Duolingo, one game of chess, and workout.
INTERVIEW: What gives you energy?
RAMIREZ: Music, coffee, love, good stories, sports, a deadline, getting challenged.
INTERVIEW: What are you made of?
RAMIREZ: Millions of decisions and moments.
INTERVIEW: How much stamina do you have?
RAMIREZ: I have 11 staminas.
INTERVIEW: What gives you stamina?
RAMIREZ: Healthy food, running, and remembering where I came from.
INTERVIEW: How do you build stamina?
RAMIREZ: Discipline, repetition, and a bit of “fuck it.” The “fuck it” helps stretch your stamina’s capacity. It’s what allows you to endure and push when it gets tough.
INTERVIEW: How many hours a day do you work?
RAMIREZ: Zero to 24.
INTERVIEW: What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked?
RAMIREZ: I did a landscaping job during high school summer break in Miami. Or fall semester sophomore year at NYU Tisch. Hamlet, Mark Antony, Hotspur, Shylock, amongst other roles while continuing to audition.
INTERVIEW: What makes work fun?
RAMIREZ: Reaching a flow state. Although sometimes the suffering to get to a flow state is the most fun.
INTERVIEW: What’s your motivation?
RAMIREZ: My family and loved ones. Others. Stories. Miami Hurricanes football to win a Natty.
INTERVIEW: What holds you back?
RAMIREZ: Not getting started. Perfectionism.
INTERVIEW: What’s your dream job?
RAMIREZ: An epic character-piece adventure that gets to shoot all over the world with incredibly talented collaborators and a story that resonates deep. Or Scarface.
INTERVIEW: When does it feel like work?
RAMIREZ: When I’m not creatively fulfilled, when it lacks greater purpose.
INTERVIEW: What got you in trouble at work?
RAMIREZ: Honesty without tact and caring too much.
INTERVIEW: What do you do on your days off?
RAMIREZ: Watch movies, go to a park with my soccer ball, explore the city, and catch up on all news about the Miami Hurricanes.
INTERVIEW: What’s your favorite workout?
RAMIREZ: Putting on my cleats and doing agility and movement work, plyometrics, or sprints.
INTERVIEW: How long can you last?
RAMIREZ: Two hours. Sometimes months.
INTERVIEW: What gets you up?
RAMIREZ: Love and student loans.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you going?
RAMIREZ: Love and student loan interest rates.
INTERVIEW: What makes you sweat?
RAMIREZ: Spicy food.
INTERVIEW: How do you endure?
RAMIREZ: I lean into it.
INTERVIEW: When do you crash?
RAMIREZ: Around 1 a.m.
INTERVIEW: Where do you want to retire?
RAMIREZ: At a press conference.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you up?
RAMIREZ: Potential of the day. Progress for tomorrow. Perfectionism.
INTERVIEW: What do you want to create?
RAMIREZ: A ripple.
INTERVIEW: What do you want to leave behind?
RAMIREZ: A wave.
INTERVIEW: What’s your reality?
RAMIREZ: I’d let you borrow my headset but I can’t take this thing off me.
INTERVIEW: What are you made of?
RAMIREZ: Bits and pieces from all over the world. My 23andMe says so.
LATINO REBELS – Top Gun: Maverick isn’t exactly a Latinx film. It’s all about aging white guys, the adventures they have left, and the military-industrial complex that’s given them the toys to play with along the way. That’s not to say the film isn’t good —it is— or that it doesn’t have anything to say to our community—it does. After all, Latinos make up the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. military. And, of course, we age and change just like everyone else.
That said, this is Tom Cruise’s film, populated by Hollywood’s preferred rainbow of supporting characters —a.k.a. just one representative from the non-white-guy subpopulations, and that includes the special interest group of over half the population, otherwise known as women— here comprising the select flight crew of the Navy’s “best of the best.” I was happy to see Insecure’s Jay Ellis in there, disappointed to learn that our resident woman “Phoenix” is not Latina (actress Monica Barbaro is Italian), and then pleased again to see Danny Ramirez as Lt. Mickey “Fanboy” Garcia. His part isn’t exactly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it but it’s not big either.
Still, it’s nice for non-white Latinx people to be in there, part of this big, expansive Hollywood legend—Latinx people are not totally invisible after all! And sitting down (virtually) with Ramirez, he struck me as a good representative of our community: humble, funny, and proud all at once.
Ramirez is clearly a fan—of Cruise, Top Gun, and the group that made the film. During our short chat, he dropped the word “greatest” a lot, declaring that Top Gun: Maverick is “one of the best films ever made” and he’s “would die on that hill.” Part of what so impressed him was Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski’s commitment to detail, authenticity, and hard work. Ramirez and the rest of the group learned about the science behind the planes, took “40-plus hours” of flight training, and filmed their fight sequences in real planes moving at high speeds.
Hype-man that he is, Ramirez joked that everyone would relate to his weapon systems officer because we’d all walk away as “fanboys” of the film. Originally conceived as a sort of generic fan —Star Trek maybe— Fanboy got a more detailed backstory through conversations between Ramirez and Kosinski. Ramirez imagined a locker room scene where his peers find a boy band CD in his stuff and begin teasing him about it. Which band? Ramirez hasn’t decided for sure but he’s leaning toward BTS.
Jokes aside, Ramirez takes his responsibility seriously, noting that “as a kid, I’d look up in in the movie theater and not see anyone that looked like me or rarely see someone.” Today, he knows “I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing millions of people,” and he’s particularly proud of the Latinx Navy aviators he met as part of his preparation. It’s for them that he knew he had to “leave it all on the line.”
This earnestness rings true when you look back on Ramirez’s career of playing Latinx characters. I recognized him as the older (more successful and classically handsome) brother of Ruby on Netflix’s brown and Black On My Block. He also played 1st Lt Joaquín Torres in Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and is set to appear in AMC’s upcoming Tales of the Walking Dead—all of which hopefully set him up for more and more nuanced parts.
Still, it’s hard to beat being in Top Gun, even in a small role. After seeing the 1986 film as a sophomore in college, Ramirez thought to himself, “if they ever make a sequel, I would love for there to be someone that I could play.” He carried that thought with him as he set out on his acting career and roles started opening up. When he saw the audition, Ramirez couldn’t help but think “I manifested this.” And here we are.
Last night, Danny attended the red carpet premiere of “Ms. Marvel” and I’ve added some photos from the premiere into the photo gallery!