Exclusive Interview With Andy Serkis and Winston Duke – Black Panther Villains

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photo credit: Natasha Nicholes
photo credit: Natasha Nicholes

Sitting with Andy Serkis and Winston Duke, two of the Black Panther villains, was such a pleasure. We were able to interview them and learn about how they came into their roles in this iconic film, and what it’s like for them to now be big mainstays in the Marvel Universe.

This was Winston’s first film, and we are all familiar with Andy’s frame of work; from his role as Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron and his other roles in a few very famous sagas (hey, Supreme Leader Snoke!). Here are some of the most interesting things we discussed with this very talented pair.

Black Panther villain Klaw

Klaw Is Meant To Be Selfish

Andy is the king of antagonists, so we were very interested in his thought process behind Klaw. He shared this:

“What I wanted to do with this character 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. In this film, he really epitomizes what it is to be ultimately selfish in every aspect of living.”

Black Panther M'Baku

M’Baku’s New Role Is A Departure From The Comics

As a fan of the original Black Panther comics, I was so excited to see M’Baku included in Black Panther. He was one of my favorite villains because of the dynamic between him and T’Challa. But, Winston shares that M’Baku’s role in the film, is a bit of a departure from what we would be expecting as  comic book fans.

“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, presence, strength and ability within that world.  And creating that society that lives outside of Wakanda proper was something that was really great.”

The Story Behind The Casting

We asked Winston and Andy how they ended up being cast in Black Panther, and if there was an interesting story behind it all.

Andy Serkis and Winston Duke - Black Panther Villains

Andy – “The way I came on board actually was when I first started working with Joss Whedon who directed Avengers: Age of Ultron. They were using performance capture, and actually, I was helping Mark Ruffalo with the Hulk.  They came to our studio in London called The Imaginarium, and we were working with (Mark Ruffalo), and James Spader to create the character Ultron; they were 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, (Klaw) is very much an adversary for T’Challa in the Black Panther. I said ‘oh wow that’s great.’  It was just this very quirky,idiosyncratic, slightly left field gangster character.  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. 

Andy Serkis and Winston Duke - Black Panther Villains 2

Winston – “Since I was more of a unnamed actor, I went through the standard audition process.  So, I was the audience. I’m only hearing about Black Panther, and seeing the cast come together. 

I told my representatives, ‘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. He wrote sides specifically just for the audition. 

I didn’t hear back for maybe four weeks.  I was like ‘that was fun, I got to work with him. I actually got to work with him. I was content. Then, I got another call. ‘They really like you and they’re asking more questions. They want to test you.’  I do the test and it just felt very organic. I got home, I said a prayer, and 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.”

Andy Serkis and Winston Duke - Black Panther Villains 4

Chills! I love how both of these actors are so perfect for the roles they play in Black Panther, but came about them in such a different way. Although they are the villains in Black Panther, you are going to love how well they play these complex characters.

Black Panther hits theaters February 16th!

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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