Each so good at being bad, while still being a deep character, Andy Serkis (“Ulysses Klaue / Klaw”) and Winston Duke (“M’Baku”) did a fantastic job in their roles in Black Panther. Getting to sit down with them to discuss those roles was an honor.
Here’s what they had to say…
Bringing their characters to life
“I mean the thing is it is great fun being able to dip into the dark side, because it in a safe environment. And we work in the world of story where you’re allowed to do that. But what I wanted to do with this character, with Klaw, was not make him in any way a kind of an archetypal villain or considered evil, although of course he is one of the world’s worst, because he is entirely driven by being selfish. I mean he epitomizes in this film he really epitomizes what it is to be ultimately selfish in every aspect of living.
And he’s a taker, he’s one of the world’s takers, he just grasps and pulls and brings it all to himself. But you kind of to make that character live and be human, I wanted to make him sort of strangely someone you might like to hang out with…So it’s, constantly as an actor you’re wanting to challenge the perception of good and evil. And I don’t necessarily believe in evil as a concept, we are all on a spectrum of- you can have people who are reformed, you can have people who do terrible things but who can love as well. So it’s trying to be complex and have a good time as well.” – Andy Serkis
“M’Baku was I was given the opportunity to create a new language within that world essentially. And the one thing that Marvel did great that really grounded and created a new world, a new life for M’Baku was that it was a departure from the comics in a sense that it’s no longer this M’Baku being the leader of this religious minority.
He’s not the leader of this religious cult, he’s now the leader of an established grounded tribe. So that gives you a lot more agency, it gives you a lot more presence, it gives you a lot more strength and ability within that world. And creating that society that lives outside of Wakanda proper was something that was really great…” – Winston Duke
How they got their roles
“…the way that I came on board actually was when I first started working with Joss Whedon, who’s directing Avengers Age of Ultron, it was using performance capture, I was helping Mark Ruffalo with the Hulk. Because they came to our studio in London called the Imaginarium and we were working with him and then James Spader to create the character Ultron because it was using the technology that I’m very familiar with. And then Josh said oh man there’s this great character which I’d really love you to play, it’s only a small scene. But I think if the Black Panther movie comes on, he’s very much an adversary for T’Challa in the Black Panther and I said ‘oh wow that’s great’…so that’s how the character got introduced. And then when Ryan took it on, he just wanted to have even more fun with it. So, that was my way into it.” – Andy Serkis
I think I went through the standard audition process…so, I’m only hearing about Black Panther and seeing the cast come together…and I told my representatives, I said ‘I’d just love to get in that room’. I love Ryan Coogler’s work, I think it has a really strong sense of social justice, every single thing that he does. And I want my career to have a strong social justice footprint, even if it is commercial. I want it to be connected in some ways so I kind of expressed that mission for myself and my career.
And then lo and behold I got in the room with him, he had me do it like twenty different ways and he’s like ‘cool, cool, cool’, can you make it a little bit more personal… he just kept going more personal more personal. We did it another way, we did it another way, we did it another way, we did it another way. Change the lines here and change the lines there. He wrote sides specifically just for the audition and we just kept going and going and I didn’t hear back for maybe four weeks. So I was like that was fun, I got to work with him, you know, I actually got to work with him. Because this took like forty five minutes, to go through the whole process. So I was content and then I got another call and they’re like, they really like you and they’re asking more questions. And they want to test you. I go and I do the test and it just felt very organic, I got home, I said a prayer, I heard a voice say everything is going to be cool. You’re all good, don’t worry about it. And the rest is history. [APPLAUSE]” – Winston Duke
Fun fact: This was Winston Duke’s first movie
Excitement over being part of this film
“Well for me a major thing especially after watching the film last night is an excitement, it’s an excitement to know that people and not adults but children are going to be exposed to narratives like this. Before they’re fully developed and before they’ve ingested and consumed placed narratives, narratives that were formed before they were born about them, and they’re getting to see representations of people who look exactly like them.
Before they’re fully formed, which is going to help them see their world differently. It’s going to change their paradigm from a really young age and they’re going to be consuming this in a way that they’re not seeing, I hope a four year old isn’t watching this, even though they might be watching this with an awareness of race. But they might be and that’s just the world we live in. But for them to- if they do have an awareness, a fully developed or an idea of race.
And they’re watching this and going man I could be like that and man T’Challa looks like my uncle, man T’Challa looks my cousin, Michael B. Jordan looks my dad, Winston looks my dad Winston looks like my cousin, Winston looks like me and they’re getting to see that. And children in Tobago are getting to see that, people in Trinidad, people in Brazil, people in Latin America, people all over the diaspora are going to get to see this and develop agency.
That’s exciting. And I was just watching and being like, this is wonderful, it’s a great time to be in a super hero movie. And the movie itself is a super hero, it took on its own life.” – Winston Duke
Here is a picture of Winston Duke and I at the Thor: Ragnarok World Premiere.
Want to know more about Black Panther and its characters? Click on the links below to read my exclusive interviews with:
- Lupita Nyong’o & Danai Gurira
- Forest Whitaker
- Daniel Kaluuya & Letitia Wright
- Black Panther Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter & Production Designer Hannah Beachler
You should also check out my Black Panther World Premiere Recap, the Black Panther Press Conference Highlights and Fun Facts from the Cast. Oh and my Black Panther Inspired Gift Guide for some really cool products you can collect, enjoy or give as gifts.
You are going to want to go and see Black Panther when it hits theaters on 2/16!
Want to know my thoughts on the movie? Click here to read my spoiler-free Black Panther Movie Review. Long Live The King!