For Oscar Nunez, filming The Lost City was not just another day at The Office. It was filmed largely in the Dominican Republic with a strictly A-list cast that includes Sandra Bullock, with whom he costarred in The Proposal, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe and Brad Pitt. So, when Bullock called him personally to talk about appearing in the film, it was an easy yes for Nunez.
The Paramount Home Entertainment release is available for purchase on demand from Redbox.
Nunez’s years in improv have served him well, not just onscreen, but in interviews. When initially asked about being contacted by Bullock to be in the film, the scene-stealing character actor hilariously goes off-script to create a scenario in which she won’t stop hounding him, and how he was still mad at her for not paying him for a previous job, and leaving him stranded on location to boot.
Taking a page out of the rom-com adventure Romancing the Stone, The Lost City stars Bullock as romance writer Loretta Sage, whose promotional tour for her latest tome goes awry when she is kidnapped by a billionaire (Radcliffe), who believes her book holds the key to translating an ancient text that will lead to a long-lost fortune. Tatum costars as Dash, Loretta’s Fabio-esque cover model who is determined to rescue her with the help of a former Navy SEAL (Pitt). Nunez portrays garrulous cargo pilot Oscar, who steps in to help Loretta’s publicist (Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Nunez’s People of Earth costar) mount her own rescue efforts.
From his character’s Spanish accent to his utter devotion to his pet goat, Randy, Nunez does what he always does: Be effortlessly hilarious while staying true to his character. Redbox spoke with Nunez about being reunited with Bullock, how his stripper character in The Proposal might fare against Magic Mike himself and whether he and Randy have kept in touch.
Redbox: As a character actor, you excel at finding the sense in the nonsense, even with a character like Oscar in The Lost City, who is much sillier than the Oscar you played on The Office.
Oscar Nunez: When Mike Myers does Austin Powers and when Rainn Wilson does Dwight Schrute; we’ve been doing that since high school. The character was easy for me to tap into. When I do a Spanish accent, it’s anchored. It’s my aunt and my father combined.
RB: I’ve read that you were the first person cast for the film. Did Sandra reach out to you?
ON: She texted me. She’s like, ‘It’s the Dominican Republic,’ and I said, ‘Yes, please.’ And so, it’s a job, but it’s also vacation because my wife and kids were with me, so it’s the best.
RB: You mentioned the accent earlier. How much leeway did directors Aaron and Adam Nee give you to flesh out this character?
ON: The script was great. It was a big production. There was a lot going on. Channing and Sandra are in the jungle, they are in the water. They’re doing all this crazy shit. And the directors have all these moving parts, so when it comes to our little parts, that’s where they save time. They rely on us to get it done. You have to be ready, but they’re cool. They’re like, ‘We got the take, do you want to do another one?’ We were allowed to improv a little bit; some got in, some didn’t.
RB: You memorably portrayed a stripper in The Proposal, and here you are in a film with Magic Mike himself. Did you two compare dance moves?
ON: [Laughs] Channing Tatum was out on the beach with his buddies working out every chance they had. They had a routine: they would go in the ocean, swim, come out and do push ups and sit ups. That guy stays in shape. He did it for the movie, but he does it for himself, I think. That was fun to watch, but I was like ‘I’ll have my morning coffee.’ Having said that, if I were in my early 20s and really fit, would I give him a run for the money? [Nunez takes a perfectly timed beat] No, no way.
RB: Actors commonly form bonds on movie sets. Have you and Randy kept in touch?
ON: Randy was a cute little goat. The only thing is, she was scared when she first got there and bleated a lot when she couldn’t see her owner. He gave me a box of treats and said to give her a treat when during our scenes on the plane. She calmed down. She was a pro.
RB: Must be nice making a shooting a movie in the Dominican Republic. What is the most challenging location shoot you ever had?
ON: I did a film called The 33 in Columbia and Chile (based on the true story of 33 men trapped for 69 days in a Chilean gold and copper mine in 2010). It was fun meeting Lou Diamond Phillips and Antonio Banderas, but working in a real mine from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m was not fun. After awhile, it got intense.
RB: I have one question about The Office. The show had the best writers in the business, but you played Oscar for more than a decade. Were you allowed input into the character? Did they ever write something and you would think, “Oscar wouldn’t do that”?
ON: They were always asking if I had any ideas. I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m good.’ I might have suggested something once, but I don’t think I was that invested in it. They did ask for my thoughts, and I was like, ‘I’m good, I like what you guys are doing.’ If I had had a complaint I would have said it, but I didn’t.
RB: You’ve already got Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, but how does it move the needle when Brad Pitt arrives onset?
ON: [Speaking very deliberately] I did not. Meet. Brad. I left and he came in the following day. That’s my only regret.
RB: Well, there’s always The Lost City Part Two.
ON: There you go.