Black Panther

In previous roles, we’ve seen you as Jackie Robinson and James Brown and soon to be Thurgood Marshall. How did you prepare for this role mentally and physically compared to those roles? Because you were playing historical figures, was there a weight was lifted because you didn’t have to tell somebody’s story and their truth?

It’s like putting down one and picking up another one. I think the preparation is basically the same. And the different genres feed on each other. Like, I just played Thurgood Marshall before I came into this, and there was a certain amount of freedom that I felt going into that, having played this. If I had gone from Jackie Robinson to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall, that – but playing something like this gives you a certain amount of freedom. And then going back to this from that that, it gives you a certain amount of weight, I think. So I think they help each other.

Really, playing Thurgood Marshall is preparation for this. It’s like you see a comedian before he does his big HBO or Showtime or whichever special, he will be in LA and in New York doing like small little comedy clubs. That’s kind of what it’s like. Once you’ve done Civil War, you can’t really stop training for this. I can’t have the same body for Thurgood Marshall as I do for this, so you have to tone that down. [Laughs] But he was with me when I was doing Thurgood Marshall. He’s training me while I’m doing Thurgood Marshall, working with Marrese Crump while I was doing Thurgood Marshall. So it’s like you carry those things with you, because you know you’re about to go into the next thing. So it kind of never stopped.

Infinity War is in production right now, and I’m curious how that’s affecting you schedule wise. Are you going to be doing this for now and then focusing on that later, or how does that schedule work?

They told you couldn’t ask me that. [Laughs] I don’t know nothing about that.

What draws your story and what fascinates you about being a part of the Marvel family now?

Well, one, I mean, they have a good batting average in terms of successful films and films that people love. And to be specific about this film and this character, it’s just a good character. It’s an interesting character. Because if it was somehow not as good as it is, I wouldn’t want to do it. Just because it’s Marvel, it doesn’t mean you want to do it. They tend to be offering people stuff that’s interesting and good and wanting to push envelopes in certain places. So this one, I think, is obviously, you’ve never seen a movie like this before. So it’s just cool. For me, every project has to be something that’s challenging and cool and that’s a challenge for me. It keeps me interested. So that’s all that really matters. And this is definitely one of them.

Can you talk about the female characters that you’re playing with? So Danai [Gurira] to Lupita [Nyong’o]’s character, to your younger sister, they’re all very strong, very valuable women to –

Shoot, you’re telling me about it. [Laughs]

Can you talk about what you think that each of those characters bring to your character and what makes him better?

Hm. That’s a loaded question right there. I’ve got to watch you. I think the first one I’m going to talk about is actually Shuri, played by Letitia [Wright]. That character, to have a little sister – it’s not very often that you see a superhero with a little sister. So I think that is probably not going to occur to people, but – it’s not unheard of, but it’s an unusual thing. So I think it brings out a different part of his character. Usually you have the damsel in distress. I don’t think there are any damsels in distress in this movie. That doesn’t exist in this movie. Like you say, all these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess. It’s intelligence and savvy and so all of them present that. But the one that stands out the most actually is Shuri, because of the way a little sister can poke at you, and you’re protective of her but she still thinks she’s your mother, like all those different things. And the actress has those qualities. I think she just makes you happy as soon as you see her. Everyday she comes in and you’re like, “Oh shoot, it just changed my attitude about everything.” So I think that’s the one that stands out the most.

Obviously, you have Angela Bassett here. She’s incredible to watch and again, she’s always really strong. I would say in this movie, because my father is dead, it gives me the opportunity to look to her for wisdom, and I think it shows the matriarchal African society in doing that. So she’s an advisor that I would go to. And it’s a close relationship, it’s not just like she’s my mother. She’s on the side, she’s not a figurehead mother.

And to have Lupita and Danai, I’m not going to really talk about their characters too much. But just to have them here, I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing. I love them as actresses. They challenge the director every day. He’s like, “They’re getting in me.” So they challenge him every day, and they bring those same challenges that their characters have. They sort of attack T’Challa in the same way. They’re not afraid to challenge him. So I think it’s cool to have conflict that’s not I’m going to kill you conflict. You need other types of conflict to bring out other parts of your character. So I think the fact that they present conflict without being enemies, in most cases, then that’s a cool thing.

I wanted to just talk really quick about T’Challa’s love life. The history in the comics, it’s been rather complicated and sparse. So is there going to be any kind of romantic arc for T’Challa in this film?

You all just tag-teamed me, right? [Laughs] If he doesn’t answer that I’m just going to go straight to it. Okay, cool.

Okay. Can we say this, is somebody going to be moved this time? Because we would love to see that.

To be what?

“Or you be moved”? We would love to see that.

Yeah, yeah. I would say yeah. You’re talking about Ayo. Ayo’s character. Yeah.

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