Daniel Kaluuya has taken over the sci-fi and horror genres over the past few years. He acquired acclaim for his performance in the Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits”. However, he didn’t really become known worldwide until his role in the award-winning Get Out. Now he will be moving forward into the superhero genre with the role of W’kabi in Marvel’s Black Panther. Winston Duke is best known for his work on the TV show Persons of Interest, having portrayed Dominic throughout the course of the series. Now he will be making a step on the big screen with his portrayal of M’Baku aka Man Ape in Marvel’s Black Panther.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk to Daniel Kaluuya and Winston Duke on press day, where we discussed how Kaluuya approached the role of W’kabi, how Duke tackled M’Baku who is drastically different in the movie compared to the comics, and where do they want to see their characters moving forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Screen Rant: This film is amazing. Best Marvel movie, I feel like it transcends even the superhero genre it’s so groundbreaking. Daniel, W’kabi is T’Challa’s close friend and advisor, how did you approach the role differently from the comic book version of the character?
Daniel Kaluuya: I just felt that like… I mean, I read the comics and I felt like, “Okay, how do we ground this guy and what’s the history between him and T’Challa?” And so me and [Chadwick Boseman] had a lot of conversations about that and how they’re oldest friends. And just like, you know, if anyone from any city or town, you leave to go somewhere else and you come back to your old friends and things have changed but there’s a connection. But it’s like how do you get back in sync? And that I felt was the kind of ‘in’ into W’Kabi and trying to have W’Kabi in relation to the world around him, that really helped me.
SR: Now, M’Baku, he is a lot different in the comics, let’s just say that. But he feels like he personifies the struggle that T’Challa is going through in Wakanda and it’s pretty intense. So how did you approach it because this is obviously a different version of that character, I don’t want to say completely but definitely different.
Winston Duke: Yeah, it kind of harkens back to just choices made creatively from taking that character from this kind of obscure, ostentatious character who is the leader of this religious cult that no one really knows anything about, that’s just there to start trouble. You know what I mean? And actually elevating him to the leader of one of the main tribes of Wakanda, giving him a lot of agency and more responsibility and he actually has to bear on his shoulders the welfare of an entire people, you know what I mean? And they’re being sequestered in the mountains and having to watch their fates kind of be played out by people who don’t know anything about them. You know what I mean? So that in itself grounded that narrative for me, grounded what his attachments were, that his community means everything to him. He’s a leader. He’s not just someone being driven by his own ego. That’s challenging for like his own thing, like, he’s a leader with people’s best interests at heart.
SR: Now Daniel, this is, for some, a Jordan Peele doppelganger obviously. So I have to ask, do you guys have any collaboration that you are working on, future collaborations? And do you possibly think that he would ever join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a director? Or even as an actor?
Daniel Kaluuya: I think he’s given up acting.
Daniel Kaluuya: I think he’s given up acting. Um… I can’t say anything.
Winston Duke: [Laughs] Tomorrow! Completely! Quote him! But great joke.
SR: Now both you guys take unexpected turns in this film. Where do you want to see your characters going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether it be in the Black Panther sequels or other Marvel movies?
Daniel Kaluuya: I kind of feel like… It’s an interesting question. I think W’Kabi is… to get to the heart of… I mean, I can’t really say anything, can I? I can’t really say anything because then I would have to give something up!
Winston Duke: Yeah, well I feel like as traditionalist and isolationist that [M’Baku’s tribe] the Jabari are in this film, with Wakanda changing it’s really interesting to see how that change affects their culture and affects their values. And is it a threat? Is it welcoming? Is it going to change them for the better or for the worse? That’s a really cool, exciting thing for the future.
SR: Well, you guys did a great job, this film is amazing. Thank you guys so much.