Black Panther Set Visit Interview: Chadwick BosemanPosted by Wilson Morales
January 24, 2018
Nearly a year ago, a number of journalists, including Blackfilm.com, traveled down to Atlanta to visit the set of one of the highly anticipated film of 2018, and of Marvel’s comic book films. This is of course, the standalone film for Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting this film since the character first made his appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”) is directing from a screenplay he co-wrote with Joe Robert Cole. Marvel has done great job loading this film with star studded names and newcomers who we will come to know. Besides Boseman, we have Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Shaunette Renée Wilson, Isaach de Bankolé, John Kani, and Sterling K. Brown.
As most of these folks have participated in some highly anticipated projects – everything from Star Wars, The Hobbit, and Marvels own Avengers movie – they didn’t let too much slip. But we did learn a lot about the world of Black Panther and the type of film they are producing.
On set, we watched a scene between Everett K. Ross, T’Challa, and the Dora Milaje, and after piecing our set visit with clips from the trailer we can confirm that scene, in particular, was taking place in South Korea – one of the principal locations. In the scene, Klaue/ Klaw is being held in an interrogation room. Ross it seem to not fully understand the World of Wakanda, but he knows that they have been keeping things from him.
Here’s what Chadwick Boseman had to say on leading this film.
Does T’Challa feel more like a king or more like Black Panther?
Chadwick Boseman: At the beginning of this movie, I think neither. He’s been Black Panther before but I would say at the beginning of this movie, he’s dealing with just shortly after Civil War has ended so he’s still mourning. There’s unrest in Wakanda. What he’s dealing with is being the king is making the transition to fill in the footsteps of his father. It’s probably going to feel like it’s more about the political unrest than the superhero initially. I don’t know if that answers your question.
What’s the learning curve from going from being Black Panther or just being Wakandan royalty to becoming the king?
Chadwick Boseman: He’s been prepared for it his whole life. He’s groomed so to speak to do it. I think it’s just a mental transition and it does not help that … If his father had decided he was gonna step down to a ‘I can’t do it anymore’ then that would be a different scenario but because he died in the last movie, I think the transition has to do with that mourning process and just … He’s been groomed to do it.
Is approaching this role different than working on Civil War because in this film? We’re obviously seeing Wakanda for the first time, we are experiencing … there’s family members so I’m curious if there is a deeper understanding that you’re getting out of the character versus when you were first preparing originally.
Chadwick Boseman: Yeah, obviously. Not to say that there wasn’t a deeper understanding but some of the things that we came to an understanding of, we couldn’t show in the last one. It gives it a chance to marinate certain things that we were unsure about, now we’re 100 percent sure about like even down to accent and how you walk or what his sense of humor is which actually develops more in this one because he … in the last movie he was pretty focused on what he had to say.
A guy killing his dad and … Yeah.
Chadwick Boseman: There was no time to make any jokes but in this one you’re seeing him around … in his more natural environment and around people that he knows so you are different according to the people you’re around.
What’s the fallout for T’Challa both personally and from the rest of Wakanda for not taking vengeance on, because it was obviously a very conscious decision, it was a major decision for him to not take vengeance there in Civil War for his father? What can you say about it both in internally for T’Challa and then just how other people are viewing it?
Chadwick Boseman: Fallout is a really strong word or maybe that’s because it’s me. You know, you don’t want to criticize yourself but there’s definitely … there’s anytime a leader dies, to be general and not give away a story, there’s gonna be political unrest and the fact that it’s not unlike our world where you would have one political party not … not to be specific but one political party point the finger at someone for being soft or not being tough enough when it comes to their foreign policy or that type of thing. That would be the best way to describe it but is it complete unrest where he can’t overcome it? I wouldn’t go that far.
For him internally, do you feel that T’Challa is comfortable with the choice he made in Civil War?
Chadwick Boseman: Yes. I think he’s comfortable with the final choice he had to make.
When T’Challa showed up in Civil War, the fan reaction was just so huge, I think more than a lot of people expected. Did that having seeing that reaction and seeing how excited people were over getting to meet this character impact how you approached this movie in any way?
Chadwick Boseman: No, because I’m not saying I expected the fan reaction to be the way it was but to a certain degree, I’m unaware of the fan reaction.
Really? Black Panther So Lit hashtag
Chadwick Boseman: Say it again?
Chadwick Boseman: Yeah, see. I see it. I see certain things but I see it in a different way because it’s important for me not to look at everything that’s happening so I see it because some things are impossible to not see but there’s a certain removal I have to have from it in order to play it because it’s just … You have people saying it’s got to have this or it’s got to have that. If I was to follow their thoughts from the last one, it would have been a lot of stuff that was wrong. I think you have to stay in it in a way where your decisions are made based upon things that are organic to. It’s a lot of storytellers here. All of the different departments are all storytellers so you’re collaborating with them moreso than can with the audience.
You are collaborating with the audience but it’s not like … if I was doing a play and I’m on stage with somebody and the audience responds, we get that direct ‘I know that that worked because he responded to it.’ Between blogs and this and that and journalists, you can’t put your foot in that so I would say no. It’s the fact that now in this case, you have a new director who’s building on the steps of previous directors and writers and new writers. It’s the baby of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, there’s so many other factors that come into play. Various different writers or various different versions of the character. It’s a lot of stuff to put in that you are being influenced by.
How did the collaborating with Ryan shape the way you saw Black Panther in his story? Did you look at the character differently after he came on board and you started talking about the character or did it refine the way you looked at him?
Chadwick Boseman: I think we had very similar views anyway. That’s one of the reasons why they put us together. You ever dated somebody and somebody was like, “You’re gonna really like this person?” It’s like that. We have very similar views about what things should be like and the things that we usually have difference of opinion about, it’s so minute what those differences are that I think it’s more of a growth because there’s nobody battling, we’re constantly building on each other. It’s been a good marriage so far.
We’ve seen you in Jackie Robinson and James Brown and soon to be Thurgood Marshall. How did you prepare for this role mentally and physically compared to those role because you were obviously playing historical figures? Was there a weight that was lifted because you didn’t have to tell somebody’s story and their truth?
Chadwick Boseman: It’s like putting down one weight and picking up another one. I think the preparation is basically the same and the different genres feed on each other. I just played Thurgood Marshall before I came into this and there was a certain amount of freedom that I felt going into that having played this. If I had gone from Jackie Robinson to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall but playing something like this gives you a certain amount of freedom and then going back to this from that, it gives you a certain amount of weight, I think. I think they help each other. Really, playing Thurgood Marshall, Thurgood Marshal is preparation for this. It’s like you see a comedian before he does his big HBO or Showtime, which ever one, special. He’ll be in L.A. and in New York doing small little comedy clubs … that’s kind of what it’s like. Once you’ve done Civil War, you can’t really stop training for this. I can’t have the same body for Thurgood Marshall … so you have to tone that down.
He was with me when I was doing Thurgood Marshall … he’s training me while I’m doing Thurgood Marshall … working with Morris Crump while I was doing Thurgood Marshall. It’s like you carry those things with you because you know you’re about go to the next thing so it never stops.
As an overall artist, what draws you to a story and what fascinates you about this being a part of the Marvel family now?
Chadwick Boseman: Well one, they have a good batting average in terms of successful films and films that people love. To be specific about this film and this character, it’s just a good character, it’s an interesting character because if it was somehow not as good as it is, I wouldn’t want to do it just because it’s Marvel doesn’t mean you want to do it. They tend to be offering people stuff that’s interesting and good and wanting to push envelopes in certain places so this one is obviously, you never seen a movie like this before so it’s just cool. For me, every project has to be something that’s challenging and cool and just a challenge for me and it keeps me interested. That’s all that really matters and this is definitely one of them.
Can you talk about the female characters you’re playing with? Danai to Lupita’s character to your younger sister, they’re all very strong, very valuable women. Can you talk about what you think that each of those characters bring to your character and what makes him better?
Chadwick Boseman: That’s a loaded question. The first one I’m talking about is actually Shuri who is played by Letitia. To have a little sister, it’s not very often that you see a superhero with a little sister. It’s probably not gonna occur to people that it’s not unheard of but it’s an unusual thing. I think it brings out a different part of his character. Usually they have the damsel in distress. I don’t think there are any damsel in distress in this movie, that doesn’t exist in this movie. Like you said, all of these characters are strong. Even if it’s not a physical prowess, there is a mental prowess. It’s intelligence and savvy and all but the one that stands out the most is Shuri because of the ability to … the way a little sister can poke at you and you’re protective of her but she still thinks she’s your mother, all those different things.
The actress has those qualities. I think she just makes you happy as soon as you see her. Everyday she comes in and you’re like oh, she just changed my attitude about everything. I think that’s the one that stands out the most. Obviously, you have Angela Bassett here. She’s incredible to watch. Again, she’s always really strong. I would say in this movie because my father is dead, it gives me opportunity to look to her for wisdom and I think it shows the matriarchal African society in doing that. She’s an advisor that I would go to. It’s a culture relationship. It’s not just like she’s my mother, she’s on the side. She’s not a figurehead mother. To have Lupita … I’m not gonna talk about their characters too much but just to have them here, it’s just a beautiful thing.
I love them as actresses and they challenge the director everyday. They challenge him everyday and they bring those same challenges to their characters. They attack the challenge the same way. They’re not afraid to challenge him. I think that’s a cool … it’s cool to have conflict that’s not ‘I want to kill you’ conflict. You need other types of conflict to bring out other things, help the other parts of your character. I think the fact they put the conflict without being enemies, in most cases, that’s a cool thing.