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Cinematographer Ian Seabrook Reveals What It Was Really Like Filming Jungle Cruise's Underwater Scenes - Exclusive

Disney's latest release, "Jungle Cruise," joins a growing list of theme park rides-turned-big-budget films delivered by the studio. In all, Disney has made eight movies based on in-person attractions — including "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Haunted Mansion" — and "Jungle Cruise" will certainly go down as one of the most successful, despite being hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt, "Jungle Cruise" takes viewers on a wild ride down the Amazon River during the early 20th century in search of magical healing petals from a mythical tree. With a PG-13 rating, the film isn't just for little kids — the fast-paced action-adventure will keep even the most jaded adult on their toes and entertained. From savage natives to relentless bad guys (portrayed by Jesse Plemons and Edgar Ramirez), Johnson and Blunt seem ready for anything.

But one "Jungle Cruise" scene in particular stands out as potentially being the hardest to film: when Johnson and Blunt dive into the river to solve a giant underwater puzzle that will hopefully lead them to their final destination. Blunt's character Dr. Lily Houghton can't swim, yet she is the only one who can complete the puzzle. It's a scene that had to be shot by a special team of underwater filmmakers, led by cinematographer Ian Seabrook, whose credits include "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," "Deadpool 2," and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."

In a recent interview with Looper, Seabrook spoke about what it took to film that scene — and whether Johnson and Blunt did their own underwater work.

Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt had a 'spirited competition' on the set of Jungle Cruise

"They were 100% under water," Ian Seabrook confirmed. "Dwayne has two stunt people that he normally works with ...and Emily had [one]. So, I worked with everybody — three stunt people and two casts. But Dwayne and Emily did the underwater work. And when it was not possible for them to do that work due to scheduling ... we would put motion trackers on their faces, in the event they never made it to the tank and we had to shoot something, then we were able to shoot and could do some face replacement. But I don't believe any of that was used in the film."

Johnson has had some previous on-screen underwater experience before, Blunt's exposure has been limited. Still, they were both "very capable" under water, Seabrook said. "Emily was great in the water. She was able to hold her breath for the required time, and her sense of alarm was also quite amazing under water with her breath-hold work. And Dwayne was obviously very physically capable, and he was up for it. There was a spirited competition between the two of them, and obviously it comes across on screen as well."

That comfort in the water is important. "That's a major consideration," says Seabrook, "because if your talent is not comfortable under water, you're going to get maybe one take out of them and then the rest of it's going to have to be done with stunt personnel or a body double. It happens a lot, and the list of people who are able to act and do well holding their breath in an overhead enclosed environment is a pretty short list."

And, yes, that means that Blunt was literally caught in a trap under water. "Emily was in an overhead environment in that the puzzle set had a roof on it, but it was removable," Seabrook said. "Still, in order to get out, if there was difficulty during the shooting, whenever she was around, we made sure that there was an opening that she could get out of. First and foremost, consideration on any of this kind of work is the safety of the talent. They have to have escape routes. They have to be able to get out. It's not as simple as just showing up on a film set with a green screen and you can easily get out if there's a problem. This is completely different."

"Jungle Cruise" is currently in theaters and streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access.