'Jungle Cruise': Emily Blunt on horrific nature run-in that had her 'dropping her pants' — and why The Rock calls her 'the female Indiana Jones'

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Emily Blunt does not play a mother in Jungle Cruise, Disney’s latest big-screen spin on a popular theme park attraction. She’s Dr. Lily Houghton, a scientist who, along with her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), joins forces with Dwayne Johnson’s pun-slinging steamboat captain for a trek through the Amazon in search of a petal with miraculous healing powers.

That’s unlike the Quiet Place movies, in which Blunt now quite famously plays the post-apocalypse’s most protective mom against invading aliens.

Guess which one her kids get to see?

“They can see the Quiet Place films when they’re 35, at least,” cracked Blunt about her two young daughters with husband John Krasinski in a recent group chat with Yahoo Entertainment where she was joined by Johnson, Whitehall and Edgar Ramirez, who plays a deadly mercenary on their trail (watch above).

“They haven’t seen Jungle Cruise yet, but they saw the trailer, and they absolutely lost their minds for it. It is the one thing I’ve done that they are really interested in seeing.” (Our apologies to Mary Poppins Returns.)

Johnson’s children have a wide range in age — 19, 5 and 3 — but the prolific mega-star says he’s particularly excited about showing them Jungle Cruise.

“I think there’s a lot of elements of Jungle Cruise … it’s something for everyone. Adults, kids, smaller kids, big kids like me. … That’s one of the many magical components when you do a movie that’s based off of an iconic Disney ride that has been beloved for generations. There’s a little bit of that Disney magic that’s always infused in movies like this.”

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in "Jungle Cruise." (Photo: Disney)

In the film, the Houghtons and the Rock face constant threats through their expedition into the Great Outdoors, from various animals to waterfalls to undead conquistadors. But nothing Blunt faced in Jungle Cruise compared to her scariest run-in with nature in real life.

“I was in Tanzania and I was climbing Mount Meru and we’d been warned about fire ants,” the actress recalled. “They’re like these giant red ants, and when they bite you, it’s … fire. So I was walking and I looked down and I had clearly stepped in a nest, and I must’ve had a hundred just climbing up my boot around my ankle.

“I pulled my pants down in front of everyone, shook 'em out in front of all my friends at school, [they were full of ants]. That was the scariest. Everyone was screaming and trying to flick them off of me. They were climbing all up my leg and I did get some fiery little nips.”

Johnson had high praise for Blunt in a recent social media promo for the film, going as far as to call his co-star “the female Indiana Jones.” He elaborated on that point in our interview.

“I understand the set-up is a tough one, because that is a beloved character,” he says of the Harrison Ford screen idol. “But I believe it. [Raiders of the Lost Ark], Romancing the Stone, The African Queen, [Pirates of the Caribbean], those were some of our inspirations. … And what a privilege and a pleasure it was for us to be in a movie where the core point of view was from that of a woman, who is adventurous and groundbreaking for that time, wore pants proudly at a time when pants weren’t cool for women to wear.

“She has all these elements of a female Indiana Jones, and I mean that really respectfully and with great reverence to Harrison Ford and the character he created.”

Jungle Cruise is now playing in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.

— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick

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