Exclusive: Jungle Cruise actor Jack Whitehall, who plays McGregor in the film, says starring in a major Disney film is a dream come true for him.
Jungle Cruise star Jack Whitehall says starring in his first Disney film is a dream come true. The upcoming Jungle Cruise film, based on the beloved Disneyland and Walt Disney World attraction, premieres in theaters and on Disney+ on July 30. And it’s been a long time coming considering production setbacks caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The family-fun adventure also stars the unexpected A-list duo of Dwayne Johnson as Frank and Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton.
Jungle Cruise centers around Frank, a riverboat captain, and Houghton, a British scientist, joined by Lily’s brother McGregor (played by Whitehall) embark on the adventure of a lifetime in search of the Tree of Life. While Frank is a skeptical captain, Blunt is determined to advance modern medicine by taking on the brave and frequently dangerous journey through the jungle. Whitehall’s character also makes history as he’s the first central gay character in a Disney film.
While there have been mixed reactions to McGregor’s role in the film, Whitehall told Screen Rant in an exclusive interview that the character was a dream come true to him, mainly because he grew up as a major Disney fan. Whitehall said of his part:
“I mean, it’s so special. I grew up watching Disney movies. It’s been my dream to be in a Disney movie from [day one]. I’ve had a few near misses: I was cut out of Frozen. It’s fine. I’m over that now. I was in the Nutcracker quite briefly under some pretty heavy makeup.
And it’s all been a journey to get to this; to be in Jungle Cruise, based on the iconic ride – Walt Disney’s favorite ride – with Dwayne and Emily. To be here in the park – I’m in Disneyland right now, where we had the world premiere last night – it’s a proper ‘pinch me’ moment. It’s so special to be a part of this.”
Whitehall’s casting as McGregor is historical, but it didn’t come without some setbacks and backlash. Some conservative groups weren’t happy Disney included an LGBTQ+ character in the film, with others on the opposite side of the spectrum argued that McGregor should have been played by an actor who was gay in real life. Whitehall’s character also barely appeared in the promo trailers for the film, leaving viewers with no real introduction to the character. There were also reports that McGregor is described as “hugely effete” and “camp,” which arose concerns that the first gay Disney character would be playing into stereotypes surrounding LGBTQ+ people.
Reports state that McGregor will have a coming-out moment in Jungle Cruise, but it will be under the family-friendly Disney guise. Whitehall also stars alongside Édgar Ramírez, Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti in the film. And Whitehall has a valid point — starring in a major Disney film based on an iconic ride is a bucket-list moment for an actor. Particularly when considering the success of Disney’s attraction-turned-film, the Pirates of the Caribbean, and the fact that he almost had his big Disney moment several times before the film. And with talks of a Jungle Cruise 2 already, Whitehall’s introduction into the Disney universe seems like it could be just the beginning.
- Jungle Cruise (2021)Release date: Jul 30, 2021
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