Men's Journal's interview with Daniel about Jungle.
What were your thoughts when you first heard Yossi’s story?
story was so insane. I went in assuming that some of it had to be
bullshit. I just didn’t know how much. I am a skeptic in that way. If I
see “based on a true story” my guard goes up immediately. Sometimes you
look at a script like that and want to ask the writer, “Are we sort of
lying here?” Then I read Yossi’s book and found that if anything the
script is actually just a taste of what actually happened. There are
events that happened that you couldn’t put into a film because first of
all, there is probably a limit to the punishment you are allowed to put
onscreen, and there are things that happened to him that you wouldn’t
buy at all.
What was the most shocking part of the journey to you?
is a moment in the movie where I become aware that there is this
ever-growing bump on my head, which I am forced to lance and cut my skin
open. I pull out this creature that has been burrowing away in my skin.
In the script that was stomach churning to read and just awful to think
about, and then you read the book and find out that Yossi had about 20
of them under his skin that he had to take out. That is insane.
Did you speak with Yossi before starting the role?
got to chat with him over Skype for hours. If you talk to Yossi about
his time out there, he will tell you that he did not sleep for the
entire three weeks. Now you and I can’t believe that. How can you not
sleep? And to communicate that level of stress in a film is incredibly
How did that translate into the filming process?
don’t want to go on talking about how much I struggled, because I was
on a movie set and this actually happened to a guy. I got to go back to a
nice hotel at the end of the night. That being said, it was a tough
shoot for the cast, the crew, and myself. Going in I don’t think anyone
expected for it to be a walk in the park.
How were able to get into the character’s mindset?
was trying to make myself uncomfortable the entire time, and I mostly
did that by eating virtually nothing. I knew that there is a
psychological effect that happens when hunger become a permanent state,
that allowed me to understand what he was feeling. I would have felt
horrible doing these scenes, and then going back to the hotel for a
How little were you eating?
There was a
three-week span where I was having one protein bar and a skillet of
white fish with an unreal amount of hot sauce. For the last two days I
didn’t eat at all. I don’t know if it truly shows on screen, but I was
feeling it and that helped me get to where I needed.
What was it like to shoot in the locations you traveled to?
places where we were filming were very difficult to get to, especially
with camera equipment. Trucks couldn’t get there, so the only way to get
our gear up there was by hiking it up or by donkey. It was crazy. The
group got close very quick because of this experience in Colombia and
Did you take precautions for being in those environments?
day we were filming near rapids, and we hired a group of guys who were
part of the Colombian national kayaking team. They were probably the
fittest people I have ever seen in my life. If a piece of equipment fell
into the river they would jump from a waterfall into the river, chase
down the equipment and then paddle against the current back to our
location. It was amazing to watch. Then we had a safety supervisor on
set, named Sam Elia, whose job was to jump in and take care of dangerous
creatures when they were around. So on that day that there were snakes
around, or any other sort of threat, he would just jump in and take care
of it. I was glad we had him around. [Laughs]