Exclusive: Winston Duke Talks Avengers: Infinity WarPosted by Blackfilm.com correspondent Corey Grant
April 25, 2018
After the unprecedented massive success of BLACK PANTHER and the merging of Wakanda into the Marvel Universe in AVENGERS INFINITY WAR, one of the people I was most excited to interview for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR was Winston Duke, who played M’Baku and was one of the breakout stars from Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER.
Cast members for Avengers: Infinity War so far include Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scalett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Don Cheadle, Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Sean Gunn, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, and Paul Rudd.
An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
The character M’Baku was pivotal in saving the life of T’Challa in the Black Panther. M’Baku was a reluctant hero and took the audience with him on his emotional journey as he decided just how invested he wanted to be in the life of saving a PRINCE who’s people looked down on the likes of his lesser tribe. Duke brought us along on his journey of conflict and ultimately, mercy, while layering his character in a way where we couldn’t break our eyes away from the screen.
So, OF COURSE fans can’t wait to see what new nuances his character will bring to Avengers: INFINITY WAR.
I was ushered into a private suite in the Montage and as I stepped in, I Iooked around and there she was…”MBAKU’s MOTHER”. I’d had the distinct pleasure of meeting her in the lounge area where I struck up a conversation, where only later did she reveal that she was this new superstar’s mother. And from what I gathered, a very proud mother, and deservingly so.
As I entered the room I greeted her first and then turned to see a man standing about 6’5 with a presence to match his height. He welcomed me and he instantly felt like a distant relative. I say that to say that M’BAKU is easily one of the most grounded, humble, and very comfortable in his own skin. I grabbed a seat and felt like we were catching up on old times while he shared with me his views on auditioning, “making it,” family values, and his overall journey that led him to BLACK PANTHER and ultimately INFINITY WARS.
In what must have been a long day of interviews and press for Winston, his energy was vibrant, his point of view, specific, and his responses to my questions were refreshing to say the least.
What can we expect to see from you in Infinity Wars?
Winston Duke: In infinity wars, you gonna see MBAKU man! You gonna see MBAKU come through again doing his thing in all his splendor! I know you can ‘t drop any gems but…I CAN’T DROP NO GEMS (laugh).
That was the extent to what he can
Considering that Winston was able to act in the same film as fellow Yale Classmate, Lupita Nyong’o in Marvel’s Black Panther, we discussed his schooling and their friendship first.
Both you and Lupita attended Yale school of Drama. Had you worked on any projects together at Yale or was this the first time you two have appeared in the same project?
Winston Duke: No unfortunately not. Lupita was a year a head of me and the way they had things split were into teams. Like Group A and Group B. So we were always in different groups and never got the chance to actually perform together. However, there were only a handful of ‘us’ at Yale so we always supported one another. She went to all of my shows. I went to all of hers. Sometimes she’d be like no, don’t say it like this…..think about it in a different way. You know, offer advice. We would do that for each other.
Before landing the roles that have thrust you to the forefront, how many auditions would you say you’ve been on in your career post school?
Winston Duke: I took a year off of undergrad to audition. It was a busy year. I was auditioning everywhere. DC, VA. …and I didn’t even have a car. Sometimes I’d take a bus that would drop me off in the middle of rural Virginia. (You know how dangerous that is) and I’d have to walk down roads until I found the audition in a small building somewhere remote. And then I went to Yale and there you’re acting 16 hour days, 6 days a week. So I put in a lot of time. But you know, I don’t like when you hear the narrative of (breaking a new actor) Someone’s always like,”Yeah, I found him on the street and gave him a shot.” But I don’t believe that. I don’t believe anybody that does this accidentally stumbles onto it. There’s a lot of hard work. A lot of sacrifice. Even if the training isn’t formal, they’ve been watching other actors, watching tv and trying to emulate…but no. NO one achieves success in this without hard work, dedication and preparation.
For so long they wanted us to apologize. for being big, tall, black, Or they were completely intimidated by it and didn’t want us to show it off in any medium other than a sport of some sort. Because of that. I’ve often thought of my body as a liability. Or they would try to over sexualize me….
Seeing the journey that you’re on how does it make you feel about your mom, who was actually outside his hotel room while we spoke, and the sacrifices she made for you to be here?
Winston Duke: Man, my mom has been there every step of my journey. I bring her to all my interviews. She really just is a great mom. And not just to me. My sister is a physician and she was just with her the other day. She’s always there with one of us. She really supports her children. There were several times I didn’t even have the rent and my mom would pay it for me so I wouldn’t have to take a day job and I could still focus on my acting. Without her, I wouldn’t be out there thinking and working towards today.