Exclusive: Bokeem Woodbine Talks Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Exclusive: Bokeem Woodbine Talks Spider-Man: Homecoming
Posted by Wilson Morales

July 7, 2017

Coming out this week is the highly anticipated film from Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

With Jon Watts directing Sony’s reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise, the cast also includes Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Michael Keaton as the villain, Kenneth Choi as Peter’s high school Principal and Zendaya as Michelle.

Other cast members include Logan Marshall-Green, Donald Glover, Martin Starr, Michael Barbieri, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Isabella Amara, Angourie Rice, Jacob Batalon, Tyne Daly, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., J.J. Totah, Hannibal Burress, Garcelle Beauvais, Tiffany Espensen, Beast of No Nation actor Abraham Attah, and Bokeem Woodbine.

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Robert Downey Jr. is also set to reprise his role as Tony Stark (Iron Man). Both Holland and Tomei appeared with Downey Jr. in “Captain America: Civil War.”

A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

For Bokeem Woodbine, it’s been a long journey for the New York City native. Best known for his roles in urban films from the 90s such as Crooklyn, Jason’s Lyric, Dead Presidents, Gridlock’d, and Life, he somewhat faded from the scene although he continued to get steady work in films and TV. But since his Emmy nomination in 2015 for his performance on FX’s Fargo, his visibility has started to rise again. Besides his role in this Marvel film, he also had a good supporting turn in WGN America’s Underground.

In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Woodbine talks about his character and being active throughout his career.

How did the role come about for you?

Bokeem Woodbine: I got a call from my agent last year around March or April. He had said the folks from Spider-Man were potentially interested in casting me and one of the roles would be from the comic books. I was in disbelief because it was so far from left field and there was no audition process. By the time we got close to June, I had received the role. They just called me.

How did that make you feel knowing that Marvel had chosen you for a role in their film?

Bokeem Woodbine: It’s still a bizarre. It’s still hitting me out of the blue even though it’s been a year since we filmed the movie. I still feel shocked.

With revealing much, what can you say about your role?

Bokeem Woodbine: I play a man named Herman Schultz, who is a confidant and associate of Adrian Toomes. His alter ego is the Vulture and my alter ego is The Shocker. We’re in cahoots and up to no good.

How much of a fan are you of comic books in general and of the Spider-Man franchise?

Bokeem Woodbine: I really loved Spider-Man. Growing up, he wasn’t my favorite superhero but what I admired about him was the fact that he uses his mind a lot to problem solve; and if that fails, he’s a scrapper too by nature. He could throw some blows. He’s got the heart of a lion. He’s not as big as the Hulk or others, so I always had a lot of respect and admiration for Spider-Man growing up. Like I said, I’m still pleasantly surprised that I’m a part of this Spider-Man movie, which I think is the best one.

For those who are not aware, is the Shocker a character from the comic books or just for the film?

Bokeem Woodbine: The Shocker goes back to the late 60s when I think he was first introduced into the Marvel comics. He’s a very old school veteran from the Spider-verse, who’s actually held his own in battles against Spider-Man. It’s interesting because Spider-Man is known for his witty repertoire and no one can match him when it comes to the one liners in the comic lore, but the Shocker in the comics had the gift to gab too. He wasn’t as rebust as Spider-Man, but he was pretty funny at times. He had a sense of humor like a dry sense of humor. He’s a real comic book character and has been around for a minute.

With Sony aiming to do spinoffs from characters of Spider-Man’s world, is there a possibility that your character may appear in one of those films?

Bokkem Woodbine: Anything’s possible.

How much has the Emmy nomination for Fargo done for your career?

Bokeem Woodbine: I’ve been blessed with a new life after the nomination. It’s changed things 180 degrees. There’s no question that the blessings I’m receiving as far as momentum in my career are directly stemming from that nomination.

How much did you enjoy working on Underground?

Bokeem Woodbine: Underground was a true joy and a blessing and an exercise and endurance and perservance. In some small ways, it mirrored the challenges of the characters we were playing, at least for me. It wasn’t an easy gig. I was working with so many people who were all going through the same challenges and facing this agenda to get it right. It was really a beautiful experience. In working with Anthony Hemingway, that’s my dude, and that was great to be able to work with him again. It was definitely one of my favorite experiences thus far in my career.

How do you stay active in the business after 20 years and still receive prime gigs?

Bokeem Woodbine: Good question. I’m generally not one for giving advice because I’m still trying to navigate the matrix but I would say that for me personally, I have no other choice but to be honest with you. Not having anything to fall back on is something that they recommend you don’t do and I understand why. I had like a 15 year slump and maybe longer than that when I think about it. When I was working I was doing my thing and when I was paying my bills I was blessed to be doing something I love, but I had pretty much disappeared and for me, I had no choice but to keep going. That’s why I keep going and that’s the truth.

Do you have any other projects coming up?

Bokeem Woodbine: I’m getting ready to do a show for USA with Josh Duhamel and Anthony Hemingway and Jimi Simpson from Westworld. We’re getting ready to do a show for USA. It’s a new anthology called Unsolved and the premise is that there is always a famous unsolved murder and we’re setting it off with the Tupac and Biggie Smalls murders. There’s a great cast with that. It will be on USA in January. I also have a picture coming out called Billionaire Boys Club, which is with some very talented younger actors. Following that, I’m in the J.J. Abrams film called Overlord, which has some really, really great talent. The brother that played Denzel’s son in Fences is the lead along with Wyatt Russell, Kurt Russell’s son. That will be out next fall. I play a cat named Sergeant Renson, who is a staff sergeant in the paratrooper unit in World War II and we’re going on a mission. That’s going to be cool.


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