Oscar Nunez Talks Getting the Call From Sandra Bullock for The Lost City

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There’s an interview that Sandra Bullock did on The Kelly Clarkson Show that went viral late last year because of Bullock’s non-stop jokes and Clarkson’s non-stop laughter. It’s the same energy Oscar Nunez brought to our interview about his newest film The Lost City. For instance, when asked where he generally pulls his comedy from, Nunez is quick to say, “My left foot.” And then, he is even quicker to say, “An organ would not be a funny reply to that question, and that’s where I went, so there’s no way out of it. It’s horrible.”

It’s perhaps why, as reported by Looper, Nunez was the first person cast in The Lost City, which was filmed on location in the Dominican Republic. What’s more, Nunez was personally called upon by Bullock (who also serves as a producer) herself. According to the actor, there were only “two questions” that he asked when Bullock pitched him the movie: “Do you want it with an accent or without?” Indeed, it didn’t take much convincing on her part to get Nunez to agree to the film, especially considering the two had previously worked together before in 2009’s The Proposal. “To me, it seems like [my character is] the uncle of [Ramone] from The Proposal, and it’s very funny to do a Spanish accent, so I think it was the right choice. But, yeah, [she said] just bring the funny, do your thing.”

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Directed by siblings Aaron and Adam Nee, The Lost City follows romance-adventure writer Loretta Sage (Bullock) as she, while on a promotional tour of her newest book, gets kidnapped and taken to a remote island by a billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes that her novel holds the key to translating an ancient text that will reveal the location of the island’s lost city and its treasure. Loretta’s cover model Dash (Channing Tatum) jumps to her rescue, enlisting the help of a former Navy SEAL-buddy (Brad Pitt), and, together, they work to translate the ancient text and survive the slew of henchmen chasing after them. Fittingly, Nunez plays a cargo pilot named Oscar — the second Oscar he’s played since his days as part of The Office cast — who proves integral in assisting Loretta’s publicist and best friend Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) on her own mission to rescue Loretta.


Nunez’ Character Was Inspired By His Family

The Lost City made its world premiere at the SXSW Festival in mid-March earlier this year before releasing theatrically later that month. It claimed the top spot at the box office with $31 million during its opening weekend, dethroning The Batman. As of this writing — the film is still playing in theaters — The Lost City has grossed $162.8 million worldwide. While praise has been generally awarded to the ways in which the film calls back to old Hollywood adventure movies and doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s the performances of the cast that make the movie shine. From Bullock and Tatum’s chemistry and Radcliffe’s foray into the hilariously unhinged, The Lost City features an incredible ensemble cast.

Nunez’ Oscar first appears about midway through the film. In addition to pulling inspiration from Ramone in The Proposal, Nunez based his character in The Lost City on his own family. “When I do a Spanish accent, it’s my aunt and my dad. They both passed away, but they were both eccentric people in their own way, [they] had fun, and my dad was very funny, and my aunt was very serious, which made her funny,” he says. “I like [the] absurd, I like people who [have] delusions of grandeur. People who think they’re the shit when they’re not. They’re either very funny or, in real life, they could be a dictator or a president.”


Related: The Lost City Review: Star-Studded Adventure Delivers Big Laughs

Nunez Offers His Opinion on a Possible Spinoff (Sort of)

Nunez’ main scene partner is Randolph as Loretta’s publicist, Beth. Randolph has been steadily rising in her career throughout the last decade, with appearances in films like Dolemite is My Name (2019) and The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) and in TV series like High Fidelity (2020) and Only Murders in the Building (2021), to name a few. In The Lost City, Randolph is a scene-stealer, and she and Nunez are comedic fireworks together. Essentially, Oscar volunteers to fly Beth to the remote island she tracked Loretta on (on his cargo plane, no less). Between their introduction at the airport — “The first time I saw her was on the tarmac,” says Nunez on meeting Randolph — and their sort of heart-to-heart on the plane mid-air, it’s easy to see a spinoff road trip-buddy comedy of the two. Oscar is weird but charming, the perfect complement to the no-nonsense Beth.


“Write a synopsis, write a pilot, whatever. Get in touch with me. If the money’s fine, I’ll do it,” Nunez says with exaggerated indifference and a pretend scoff when asked about his thoughts on a hypothetical spinoff of The Lost City with Oscar and Beth at the center. Then, back to normal, though still joking: “What if I was really like that? I’m really close to being that guy. That’s what I want to say, but I can’t say that. I had to make it funny because if that was really me, everyone would hate my guts.”

Being fast on his feet with jokes comes easily to Nunez. Between being “one class clown among ten other guys” during his Catholic grammar school days to performing with the New York-based improv troupe Shock of the Funny and becoming a member of The Groundlings, Nunez always knew he wanted a career in comedy. “The beginning was very scary. You don’t even remember being on stage. You walk off, and you’re like, ‘I don’t know what I just did.'” In our interview, he likens his career to the rodeo, saying that his earliest times on stage in New York were like sitting on a “wild bucking horse.” Over time, “the horse stops bucking, and you get to train and now you’re galloping with him. And now, I’m running him gently and, soon, I’ll be taking him out to pasture and putting a bullet in his head. I’m in the back nine, I’m not a young kid anymore.” While it might sound like a momentary meditation on his career and, perhaps, mortality, Nunez pivots. “Why did I go with the horse-rodeo analogy? Why did I keep going with how to slaughter the poor thing?”


To end our interview on a lighter note, Nunez requests a banal question. Anyone who has done improv knows that the number one rule of improv is to say, “Yes, and…,” so I ask him about his favorite chocolate bar. “I’m getting tired because you’re the 103rd person in the [last] 37 minutes [to ask],” he says without skipping a beat. But then, he acquiesces: “I like Oh, Henry’s. I don’t know if they make them anymore because I was born in 1932.” And then, slipping on a Katharine Hepburn-esque accent, he says, “I remember going down to the store and putting a penny on the counter, saying, ‘Give me an Oh, Henry,’ and they would take out a big bar, cut off, with a knife, a chunk, wrap it in newspaper, and hand you the candy bar, and you skip home.”

The Lost City releases on digital on May 10, 2022.


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