Philipp Maximillian talks about working on Jungle Cruise and his own Disney appreciation

Philipp Maximillian of the Jungle Cruise. Image by David-Simon Dayan
Philipp Maximillian of the Jungle Cruise. Image by David-Simon Dayan /

Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie has arrived and that means it is time to do a deep dive with some of the actors involved, such as Philipp Maximillian. And while you may not know who Maximillian is right now, by the end of this interview, you will.

Considering Maximillian is a relative newcomer to the entertainment scene, we think he will be sticking around. As an actor and producer, this is a man who knows what he is doing, even if we aren’t familiar with him just yet. (The beauty of coming from the stage life!)

In Jungle Cruise, Maximillian takes on the role of Prince Joachim’s close confidante, Axel. And according to the actor, being the prince’s confidante also meant keeping him calm and from going off the rails as it were. Of course, we will get to that shortly.

Recently we had the opportunity to speak to Philipp Maximillian about everything from what it was like to work on Jungle Cruise to his own appreciation of Disney. So, if you are looking for some behind-the-scenes details about the latest addition to the Disney movie catalog, we have you covered.

Philipp Maximillian talks to Culturess about working on Disney’s Jungle Cruise

Culturess: Right off the bat, we have to ask, were you familiar with the ride Jungle Cruise before you took this role?

Philipp Maximillian: “It’s funny you asked that because everybody says they’re Disney nerds, and I am a Disney nerd through and through. And so I have pictures of me on the Jungle Cruise ride when I was five years old with my mom in rain ponchos at Disney World. I think I know like everything there is to know about Disneyland, and what ride closed when and that restaurant was called this and renamed. So yes, that’s a long-winded answer to tell you yes.”

Culturess: So then, were you excited to get this role because obviously if you’re a Disney nerd and then you’re going to be in a Disney movie that has to be amazing.

Maximillian: “Yes! Oh my god Kimberley I was thrilled, not only is this a Disney movie and I’m a huge Disney fan, but to be in a movie that’s based on a Disney ride was just incredible to me. I’ve always loved the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and I love all those Easter eggs and all the little things that were hidden in there for Disney fans like me, and just the thought of being part of something like that was so thrilling for me.”

Culturess: I  know that this movie they’re kind of making it like a cross between a period movie with action and what was that like filming that kind of a movie

Maximillian: “I have never been part of such a huge scale movie. So for me it was actually really grounding that it is a period piece, and there is something familiar about the look and feel of this jungle. It’s like Indiana Jones and it’s very old school, like the clothes and everything. I mean action sequences, you’ll be paced, it’s larger than life and of course, we did some really, really fun things.

I got to do some really, really fun things on this on this set. It was intimidating, but I just had so much fun. I really couldn’t say it any other way. Also, we had a fantastic director and the cast was so lovely and so fun to work with that, even the most daunting scenes or moments that we had that could have been daunting and they just weren’t because we had such a great time with it.”

Culturess: I’ve seen a lot about how well everybody on the cast got along and there was this sense of camaraderie. Do you think that helped you to really get into your character, get into the role, and into the movie itself?

Maximillian: “It did. And especially my relationship with Jesse Plemons who plays Prince Joachim. We met my first day of shooting and we bonded immediately. And it’s because of him that I’m in the movie as much as I am because he and I just started riffing and improvising and our director really gave us, sort of, the green light to just be like guys, just try something out if you want to try it, try it.

And Emily [Blunt] was so fantastic to work with and so nice and kind. Dwayne [Johnson], you know he is such a huge ball of bubbly happiness and it was really great.”

Culturess: I don’t want you to give anything away or anything, but can you tell us a little more about your character and who you play.

Maximillian: “Yes, so, I play Axel, who is the Prince’s right hand. He is a mercenary, first and foremost. But he follows his own drummer and he doesn’t follow the orders as well as he should. And he has a very special relationship, we’re not going to give too much away, a very special relationship with Prince Joachim in the sense that I can tell you that when the prince gets anxious, when he gets nervous, if he doesn’t get what he wants, I sing him a song to calm him down and to kind of keep him happy. I think you’ll really enjoy those scenes.”

Culturess: Moving away from the movie itself, if you could tell a young you one thing, what would you tell yourself?

Maximillian: “I would tell him what you perceive as your biggest flaw is your greatest strength. When I came to the U.S. I was 25. And I thought that being from Germany, being from this different place, having an accent, all these things were handicaps for me and that I had to sort of fit into a certain mold.

I just felt like, in order to be successful here I had to be kind of like everyone else, and then I learned the hard way that it is those things that I thought were flaws that set me apart and then eventually got me jobs including Jungle Cruise. It’s because they love my audition and because I speak German, and I’ll play a German character in this film, so I would just tell my younger self, use it.

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If you want to see Philipp Maximillian as Axel in the Jungle Cruise, now is the time. You can see the Jungle Cruise in theaters now and on Disney+ with premiere access.