Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramírez plays boxing legend Roberto 'Manos de Piedra' Durán in "Hands of Stone," which premieres this Friday.
Ramírez told Matt Lauer on the TODAY Show that working and actually training with Durán was an incredible experience. Ramírez moved to Panama to live with Durán and his sons to train for the movie.
"He is a force of nature," said Ramírez, who's also known to U.S. audiences for his roles in movies including "Point Break," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Joy," and "Wrath of the Titans."
"He shared a lot of his skills and a lot of the techniques with me, however there was always something he kept for himself as any other good fighter would," Ramírez continued. "I think that fighters are like magicians, you know? They always keep their tricks and secrets somewhere protected up their sleeves."
De Niro, who played Durán's trainer Ray Arcel, said his character's goal was to, in a sense, "civilize" a street fighter and "teach him to think and to use his head."
"Arcel knew that [Durán] had it in him," De Niro said. "He knows that he had to guide him and give him instruction and to be like a father figure for him at the same time."
This biopic centers on the relationship between Durán and his legendary trainer Ray Arcel as each change each other's lives. Durán grew up fighting in the streets in Panama, and at 16 years old, became a professional lightweight fighter. He stayed active in his career until he was 50 years old, and his record was a staggering 103-16, with 70 knock outs.