So, if some project came your way now, maybe it’s a one million dollar budgeted movie and maybe it could potentially get in a festival you’d still do it because you love it still.
It’s called “Get Out.” (Laughs)
Why wouldn’t I do that? That’s the same decision I made with “Get Out.” I believe in this. It’s $4 million. It’s an indie. It’s a horror. I think this is wicked. So, why wouldn’t I make the same decision if I have the same feeling, y’know?
How did you get “Black Panther”? Weren’t you shooting already when “Get Out” was released?
Ryan saw me in a short film called “Baby” by Daniel Malloy that I made in 2010. And then, I dunno, he had been following me. I get a lot of that. Steve McQueen saw me in a play 2010. Jordan saw me in “Black Mirror.” It was all stuff I’d done in England. So, [Ryan] saw me in this thing and he’d been watching me for awhile and he wanted to Skype with me. I was doing a play while that was happening and we just had a conversation about what I wanted to do. I really wanted to be W’Kabi. The character was still being formed and still being developed. It was in a drafting process, but we kept the conversation going. I had shot “Get Out” but it was before…I think it was one week where I learned both Ryan and Steve wanted to talk to me. It was kind of this crazy week. I’d just done this play and [I was thinking] “If it doesn’t feel right I’m not going to do it. No matter how much money it is.” Ryan just got it. It’s so nice when someone says, “I think you can do it. I think you can do it. Do you want to jump on board?” And then we have the conversation about the themes and what he wanted for the film and it was amazing.
He’s a really interesting character because you assume he’s always going to have T’Challa’s back, but he doesn’t. He’s very much got his own issues and everything going on with Claw. How important was it to you that he was on his own path?
That’s the testament to Ryan and [co-screenwriter Joe Robert Coyle] as storytellers. They wanted any character who is in this story to have an arc. For this to be satisfying in whatever sense it needs to feel like there is a story there. And it’s a great experience for the audience and I thought, for me, it was kind of like a major theme in this film is how people deal with grief and how that manifests in you really informs who you are. With T’Challa and the villain, Killmonger [Michael B. Jordan], there are parallels. There are deep parallels in their motivations. One of them happened when they were much older, T’Chaka’s death, and Killmonger’s happened as a child. And that’s formed how they attack the world and who they are as a person. And I think W’Kabi has that because Claw murdered his [parents] and wants revenge.
How did Ryan work with the cast? Were there traditional rehearsals?
There were loads of prep beforehand. Loads of conversations between all the characters beforehand so this could be truthful and grounded when we are doing the scenes because there is a lot of exposition in all storytelling, but it needed to feel emotionally connected and that was the goal for all of us. Because we all have accents as well. This is a film where 90% of the characters have an African accent including Andy Serkis (Laughs). So, it’s kind of like it was so important to be clear and to carry the intentions on the page because when we need to get through those scenes we need to nail it and get out of the situations. There is so much, there is green screens, there is fights, there is load of set pieces, there are rhinos. Loads of things are happening. It was important to have the complexities presented in a very simple way.
Lastly, who are you bringing to the Oscars?
“Black Panther” opens nationwide on Feb. 16.