'Jungle Cruise' Star Jack Whitehall on Sharing Scenes With a CGI Jaguar and Playing Disney's First Gay Character [Interview]

Disney’s Jungle Cruise feels less like the classic theme park ride it’s based on, and more like a specific kind of adventure movie. You probably know the type. 1999’s The Mummy. 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Spirited, funny, silly, romantic, charming adventures that blend action and banter in equal measure. And these kinds of movies demand a comic relief character, the goofball who says everything the audience is thinking in the back of their brain. Enter Jack Whitehall.

Sure, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are the romantic action leads of Jungle Cruise. But as MacGregor, the fussy but loyal brother to Blunt’s character, Whitehall gets to experience the terrors of hostile jungle adventure like we would. It’s a funny performance, a key counterbalance to the swagger of the leads.

And in one scene, MacGregor comes out as gay to Johnson’s character, a scene that isn’t vital to the plot of the film, but acts as a key driving force in his backstory. It’s far from perfect, but after Disney’s long history of queerbaiting, it’s a step forward.

Over Zoom, I spoke with Whitehall about that scene, but also what it’s like to act alongside a CGI jaguar (portrayed on set by a man in a leotard) and how he’s the real lead of the movie.

[Right on cue, my cat leaps onto my desk, peering into our Zoom call]

Jungle Cruise hits theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on July 30, 2021.

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