'Captain Marvel' Star Lashana Lynch On How Maria Rambeau And Carol Danvers Are "Yin And Yang" [Set Visit Interview]

Lashana Lynch plays Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel, and if you have read some Marvel comics, you may know that she a very important character in Carol Danvers' world. On the set of the latest Marvel film, I had the opportunity to speak with Lynch about her character, the movie, and what it could all mean for the future of the MCU.

Note: This interview was conducted in a roundtable format with other journalists.

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown

Question: So, what has Marvel said you're allowed to say about this?

Lashana Lynch: That I'm a part of Marvel now. [laughter] That she is Maria Rambeau, the mother of Monica, who I know you all know and love like myself. She is a fighter pilot, very strong, very bold, very in control of herself. I'd say, in high demand with the industry that she's in. Her and Brie's [Larson] character Carol Danvers are very close friends, they're best friends, in fact. She had to go through a lot of grief when Carol disappeared and then suddenly she's back, and she has to kind of reverse that grief and make it work for this, picking up of a friendship, which is kind of strange but ends up really beautifully. She's just an incredible character to play. It's nice to see someone on the page who doesn't yet have a fully fleshed personality and who you can then inject wherever you want to. And that's quite a treat, for a Marvel character, you know?

Question: How long has it been since Carol disappeared or whatever happened to her?

Lashana Lynch: Oh, I don't know if I'm allowed...a long time, a really long time, enough for me to say...enough for me to come out of denial and then think that maybe she is alive, and then no, actually she isn't yet years have gone by, and she definitely isn't alive. Do you know what I mean? Enough to go through that cycle.

Question: You're in a unique position to almost create a character. What's that been like for you as a process?

Lashana Lynch: It is firstly a treat, because Black Panther, I think, just raised everyone's awareness to the fact that we just don't have any black superheroes and our younger generations aren't seen enough of themselves. We're not being represented, and Marvel took that responsibility and I think for the change in consciousness that is happening in the Black community right now and over the last couple of years, they definitely picked the right time to drop the movie.

I think the time really was now. Whilst I would have loved maybe 10 years ago to have a Black Panther, the world may have rejected it because of social issues, which I guess now we're going backwards. So our social issues are even worse. But because of that, Black Panther needed to be that. Do you know what I mean?

So in creating Maria, it made me realize that the younger generation, are going to have what I didn't have as a kid, which is seeing themselves on screen. So this will be a classic film for the new generations to come, which is crazy. And also the new normal, which I can't wait to be. Do you know what I mean? So, I did an ABC and Shonda Rhimes series a few years ago called Still Star Crossed, and I played Rosaline, who is mentioned in like a slither of a verse in Romeo and Juliet, and I got to characterize her from scratch. So I feel like I'm repeating the same kind of process in the...I can just bring whatever I want and the directors Anna and Ryan are so cool that I was like, actually, I feel like she can be like this. And they're like, yeah. And I'm like, okay, well, so she could be like that. And they're like, yeah. So, I've had free rein within reason, and it's been a very free and an exciting experience.

Question: Within this close friendship that these characters have, what is their dynamic? How are they with each other?

Lashana Lynch: They have a very dry humor together. They're kind of... you know when you love someone and you pretend like you hate them? They have that little bit of a slightly unlikely boisterous, yet very loving, deeply loving, caring sister love. They have a sisterhood about them that is really nice to see in a Marvel movie. Carol Danvers is someone who is an aunt to my child, like she is family and that's why her death take such a big effect on her life because she actually is her life. They're in a male-orientated environment and industry, and all they have is each other, those female fighter pilots. So yeah, they're extremely close, extremely.

Question: How much of their story are we going to see in the past when they're fighter pilots and how much are we going to see when she's Captain Marvel?

Lashana Lynch: How much do you see? You do get touches of moments to see how happy they were before and how happy they made each other. Because of that, when she comes back, you see why it affected her so much. You see why her death was such a big deal. And imagining my character now being the only female fighter pilot, African American as well, in the Air Force base would have been hell. So from her going...I don't actually remember what I was saying at the beginning, but from her going from working with someone and actually being that complete bum chums to being alone, and raising a child single handedly with the help of their parents is a hellish experience and I could relate to that as well with having, losing someone myself. It's hard. It's not something...it's a lot, isn't it?

Question: As far as your character, you're a Black woman and also a mother in the film. It's rare that we see mothers in superhero films that are still alive.

Lashana Lynch: Yes, yes.

Question: So what does that bring to Maria?

Lashana Lynch: A strength. I would say that her being a fighter pilot along with a single mother is her superhero quality. That is absolutely her superpower. Being a single mother, especially a Black single mother , having been [unintelligible, but I think it's grown or blown] by one and my grandmother, I know that there's just a certain type of strength that comes ancestrally that you wouldn't have been able to portray. That's just a certain way we portrayed in this film that isn't labored, but also was very much conveyed in...I actually don't even have the words for it. I feel like nothing...you know what I mean by nothing's labored? It's just she's strong, she's bold, she's a Black single mother. She doesn't argue about it. She has raised an amazing child and now this child is probably going to turn out to be a superhero because she's been raised by one.

Question: So it's not here you're like, I'm a Black woman and I'm a Black mom.

Lashana Lynch: Absolutely not, and I think it would be unjust to convey a single Black mother in Marvel. That doesn't need to be spoken of. We have representation now to hopefully not have to talk about representation in the future, so why do we then have to have a conversation in a film? We're already having it in the industry. We don't need to apologize or explain ourselves with the film. It just is what it is, and also to know that we're flipping the Black single mother idea on its head and being like, oh, she's a fighter pilot and a Black...yes. I'm so glad she's a Black single mother. She don't need a husband. She doesn't need a boyfriend and she doesn't need many males in their life because you've only got one male that's probably the best one, that's her father. Everyone else has been the males at work who have given her a freaking hard time for just existing. So she's all right.

Question: Can you talk about Maria's relationship with Nick Fury? How does she react...

Lashana Lynch: Cooly. Literally. One thing I noticed when I read the script is that she doesn't flinch. She has stillness about her, which is so attractive in a woman and in a human being, I feel like because of her, work, she doesn't really, she's just doesn't flinch. She really takes new experiences and just makes it work for her. There's some situations that she encounters on the way, throughout the film and she never argues, she never asks questions. She's a bit like me when there's something new, she's like yeah, this is an iPhone. Never seen an iPhone before. I can work it. Yep. Use the buttons, but I'll make it work. Don't need to ask questions. She just handles herself in a very professional and collected fashion that no one else there has to question her ability. And again, I think that comes from being an African American female fighter pilot, in a White male orientated environment. So she had no choice but to be strong.

Question: So in taking another step about Black women in films, is there a part of her that we don't get to see that is very vulnerable or soft?

Lashana Lynch: I think that, the way this story is being told, in the time that it is being told, because we're starting with Carol's entrance into the world, or this new person, I wouldn't say that we necessarily see vulnerability, but we see tenderness, and I think that's warranted and it's enough for the relationship that she has with Carol. She almost has to remind Carol who she is, where she came from, and what she represents, who's she's about, and the mark that she can now place on the world through this power that she's gained. So for me at this moment in time, I think it's nice to see tenderness, love, care, and handling grief in a very complicated way. That's nice. I wouldn't say that with where she was in her life right now. and with how she's had to just take charge of the situation she's faced with in the movie, that I don't know whether you use soft, softness...

Question: Tenderness, I think is the word.

Lashana Lynch: I think anything less than that would have been...she just doesn't need it in the...you'll see. She just doesn't need to.

Question: Would it be fair to say that she and Carol are yin and yang?

Lashana Lynch: Absolutely. Absolutely, absolutely.

samuel l jackson and brie larson on the set of captain marvel

Question: Can you talk about the influence of the nineties setting and if that's had an effect on your performance?

Lashana Lynch: For the sake of the audio, I'm shaking my shoulders right now because the nineties for me is music. I'm an eighties baby and a nineties child, so I went straight back to the rhythm of the nineties and I placed my head right back in there. And the fashion as well, although it's not like we're out partying everyday and these themes, so like we're not getting to do the, like throwing up curves and all that stuff, although I would have loved that. I ramble so much. I didn't remember what I was doing.

Question: The nineties.

Lashana Lynch: Yeah, the nineties was amazing.

Question: Are there any nineties touchstones that you've latched onto? Maria's favorite songs, anything like that?

Lashana Lynch: She's definitely an R&B girl. She definitely like an SWV, 702.

Question: Janet Jackson.

Lashana Lynch: Oh my gosh. Oh yeah, we had a conversation. I'm not saying that. We've talked about Janet and all the artists of the nineties.

Question: So Maria is doing her thing on Earth. Carol comes back, and she also brings with her all these crazy things like aliens and superpowers and stuff. So how does Maria react to that?

Lashana Lynch: Sarcastically. Sure. Okay. So I'm just meant to be, it's just meant to be okay and just normal to me? Okay, sure. That is how she reacts. Like, I'm just frozen in time because the last memory I have of you is so fond and so normal and so graceful, that now you have a different like shell of strength that is great, but you need to also remember that you're a human being, but I don't quite know how to do that for you yet. So yeah, very sarcastically, mostly, but also takes to it very quickly. And one thing that Carol needs that Maria gives her is understanding. I can't empathize with the fact that you have power, because I can't. That was definitely Spider-Man. I can't just do whatever she does, but I know what it feels like to feel lost, and trying to regain yourself after having a child, and feeling like I've lost a part of myself but gained another part of myself. I'm trying to find that balance in my mind. So she just uses the different parts of her life to understand where she's coming from.

Question: Do you get some major action? I assume in the air, but do you get to do some major fighting?

Lashana Lynch: There is action. Guys, I'm really comfortable and free. I don't know. It's a lot to censor myself

Question: Do you get to work with the cat?

Lashana Lynch: Do I get a hat?

Question: Do you get to work with the cat?

Lashana Lynch: Do I get to work with the cat? You know there's a cat. Sure. The cat.

Question: You can talk about the cat.

Lashana Lynch: Fully about the cat?

Question: Not fully. You can say that it is not fully a cat.

Lashana Lynch: It's not fully a cat. It's a mysterious cat. In a hat, because you mentioned the hat, but you didn't actually say 'hat.' The cat does things that we didn't expect for it to do, and it's very surprising, and it could happen at random times. So do I interact with the cat in the hat? That is something you touched on. [laughter] I haven't gotten one more. I should have been more. Yet. I do, although I don't hold the cat, but I'm around it a lot. I'm gonna have a hat in my back pocket.