“It’s a film with substance, something people can sink their teeth into…” - hmv.com talks to the cast of Black Panther
It’s only February, but the year’s most anticipated movie event is here with the arrival of Black Panther. It’s the latest adventure from the hugely successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, but an adventure like nothing else they’ve released before.
The movie stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis, while Creed director Ryan Coogler in the director's chair.
Boseman, who made his debut in the role during Captain America: Civil War, stars as King T’Challa who returns home to Wakanda to find his sovereignty challenged by factions within his own country.
Things get especially tricky when two enemies, Michael B. Jordan’s psychotic soldier Erik Killmonger and Serkis’s mercenary arms dealer Ulysses Klaw conspire to bring down the kingdom, to stop them T’Challa must team up, as the Black Panther, with Freeman's C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's special force, to prevent a world war breaking out.
The movie is out now in cinemas and available to pre-order on DVD from hmv’s online store on the right-hand side of the page and you can read our full review of the movie here.
But, as well as that, we sat down with stars Chadwick Boseman, Andy Serkis and Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, T'Challa's 16-year-old sister and the princess of Wakanda who designs new technology for the country, to find all about making 2018’s most-talked-about movie...
How have you found the build-up to this movie? You were all cast a little while ago...
Chadwick: “I’ve been taking it one step at a time. I didn’t want to rush the process. I wanted us to move diligently towards this and I wanted us to get it right. I didn’t feel desperate to get my own movie or like I was owed it, it’s more been me enjoying the process and getting ready to go to work. We have a film that people are enjoying and we’ve made a film that’s giving people something to talk about. It’s a film with substance, something people can sink their teeth into.”
Andy: “When I took the role, I had no idea what it would mean for me in terms of a story or narrative. I knew that if there was a Black Panther movie Klaw would be a part of it and so it was exciting watching it come together. Ryan (Coogler) saw Klaw as this agent of chaos, someone who is strangely exciting to be around. He’s the extreme edge of self-preservation. He’s an ultra-capitalist, he’s only interested in one thing. There’s an anarchy to this character, which I loved.”
Letitia: “I didn’t know much about the world about Black Panther when I got the role, so learning more about it has been a very pleasant surprise. The scale of it was new and took me adjusting to a different way of working, long hours. But I loved it.”
The world of Wakanda is incredible, what was it like seeing that come to life?
Chadwick: “I saw it the first time a week ago and it was amazing. What they’ve built around the set pieces is incredible. We get a get team setting it up. Warrior Falls was an actual set, an actual waterfall, the tribal council, that’s a set we built. But the rest of the world, the details are the edges, it’s an epic landscape. I want to go to Wakanda. Tomorrow.”
Andy: “It was amazing. I adore all the design work and the visual effects. It’s a very fresh take and it bucks every expectation you have of Africa. You’re expecting a typical third-world nation and you get this amazing, bright place, full of technology. It was a joy to watch it all happen.”
Letitia: “Seeing it in Los Angeles last week was amazing. I’ve never anything like it, it made shed a couple of thug tears. I’d seen concept boards and Ryan had talked us through what it would look like. But the final vision is amazing.”
The cast is a nice balance, lots of people who are just starting out, and a few experienced heads…
Letitia: “Definitely. It was a really nice mixture of people. We were filming just as Get Out came out, so it was really nice to be around Daniel Kaluuya while this was all happening to him. I loved working with Angela Bassett, someone who has been there and done it, how she works the camera. I took so much on board.”
How did you find working with Ryan Coogler?
Chadwick: “He’s a director you want to go down the alley with. If you knew you were going to get in a fight, he’s who you want with him, that’s the best way to say it. He handled everything perfectly.”
Andy: “He has an effortless authority, but he’s very collaborative and humble as anything. It was a very open set, we honed down every take and we’d always be trying different things. He knows his material so well and it really felt like a personal journey. He really pushed me to bring out the extremes of my character and he did that in a very safe, collaborative atmosphere.”
Letitia: “It was like working with a big brother. He really cared about us, about the script and the story. He was precise in what he wanted. Every time we’d have a decision to make, he would always choose the most difficult or interesting option. He wanted everything to pop and be special, he just thinks on a different level.”
This feels like a very separate one from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, did it feel like that making it? Were you left alone to get on with things?
Andy: “We know those other worlds really well. But this is a fresh story, a very fresh take, which is important. You need fresh ideas to keep things alive.”
Letitia: “We were left alone, we had our own space to explore, to make a world that felt real, but honoured the continent of Africa, celebrating the clothing and the language. Marvel worked with Ryan and the cast to make sure everything was as authentic as possible. So much care was taken.”
How was working with Michael B. Jordan? He’s a hell of a villain...
Chadwick: “We had a great time working together and building this conflict. We only came together a few times, we trained separately, we built up separately, we wanted our moments of conflict to feel fresh and new, an event, and we had a great time doing that.”
Andy: “He’s a brilliant actor, wonderfully instinctive and it’s a great performance, very subtle. Nobody in this story is a one-note character, it’s all very thoroughly brought to life. He could have easily done that role as a brutal, non-compromising person, but he gives the scenes a lot of emotion and you do see his worldview.”
Andy, you’ve been a villain once or twice yourself, were you able to give him any tips?
Andy: “He didn’t need any tips from me. He was so impressive, I was in awe of him. He totally nailed it.”
Chadwick, next we’ll see you in Avengers: Infinity War, what can people expect from that...
Chadwick: “It’s going to be a monster. No pun intended. That experience was a lot of fun. You’re trying to take it all in, all these great people, all coming together to fight this huge enemy. It’s going to be crazy, I can’t wait for people to see it.”
And a Black Panther sequel, is planning already underway?
Letitia: “Not yet. If it’s meant to carry on, we will. Shuri’s arch in the comic books is a very strong one, but we’ve not talked about what’s next, not yet.”
Finally, do you think there’s scope for the other Marvel heroes to come to Wakanda?
Chadwick: “That’s a Kevin Feige question. I don’t know if they want to do that. Would the other want to come to Wakanda? I don’t know. I hope so.”