Coming out this week from Sony Pictures Animation is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, featuring the voices of Shameik Moore, Liev Schriber, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jake Johnson.
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the mask.
Bitten by a radioactive spider in the subway, Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales suddenly develops mysterious powers that transform him into the one and only Spider-Man. When he meets Peter Parker, he soon realizes that there are many others who share his special, high-flying talents. Miles must now use his newfound skills to battle the evil Kingpin, a hulking madman who can open portals to other universes and pull different versions of Spider-Man into our world.
Shameik Moore, star of The Get Down and Dope, voices Miles Morales in the film, and he is joined by Liev Schreiber as the villain Kingping, Jake Johnson as Miles’ mentor Peter Parker, Mahershala Ali Miles’ Uncle Aaron , Brian Tyree Henry as Miles’ father Jefferson, Luna Lauren Velez as Miles’ mother Rio, Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, with Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy aka Spider-Gwen.
Blackfilm.com spoke exclusively with Shameik about getting the role, his love for Mile Morales and the difference this Spider-Man and the other Spidey films.
How did they come about and approach you for this? Was it something you heard about or did they come to you for this?
Shameik Moore: I heard about it and the directors saw the movie ‘Dope’ at Sundance. And yeah, I put in my journal probably a year before that, less than a year before that. And yeah, I guess the right people came to see the movie ‘Dope’ and then they had me in mind for the character Miles Morales. Then they did their auditions and then they came to back to me and was like, “Oh yeah, we’ll use you for Miles.” It took like six months, but I got the audition and, boom there you have it.
How much are you of a fun of the Miles Morales character? And how much of you fan of the Marvel, Spider-Man, and the whole franchise itself?
Shameik Moore: I’m a big fan of superheroes in general, I think Miles Morales for sure. When I was younger I saw him make an appearance on a different show, or something, and it made me … like I thought that they animated me. It looked so much like me. And ever since then I always like in my mind was that Spider-Man. I’ve always supported Peter Parker in all the Spider-Man movies that have came out, but I’ve always thought that I was Miles Morales. If I was a Spider-Man, I was Miles Morales. I put that in my journal, like I said, while filming ‘Dope’ and then when we screened ‘Dope’ for the first time at Sundance Film Festival, the right people were in the room to make that happen for me. So here we are today.
This is a movie that has a lot of characters from the Spider-Man franchise, what makes Miles different from those who have not read the comic books and they’re going to see this?
Shameik Moore: Miles Morales is also younger than Peter was and he’s black and Puerto Rican. His powers are different. He can go invisible and he has this electric shock that he can do, which is really cool. Those are two things that Peter doesn’t have. And beyond that, Peter’s from Queens. Miles is from Brooklyn. Peter lost a lot of family while Miles is raised in a loving, connected home. It’s a difference culturally, obviously. But these are other main things, I think, that really hit the spot.
What did you discover while doing this movie regarding the character? What was new for you?
Shameik Moore: I didn’t know much about Miles’ story, I didn’t read comic books in general. So what I did know was seen on screen the first time I saw Miles Morales. Any other character I know is from the like the Avengers animations. I learned a lot about Miles Morales while working on this film. About his home life and what really does make him unique and different than Peter. How he adds to the Spider-Verse.
When you’re making this animated movie, basically you’re going into the booth for different periods of time. How long did it take for you to do this?
Shameik Moore: I think it’s been about two years. That’s what Jake has been saying in our interviews, I think he’s right too. So I think it’s been about two years since we started working on this.
Did they want you to do anything with just your voice? Or was it just a matter of reading the script?
Shameik Moore: Oh, so that was the thing. I went in there with that mindset like, “Oh, he’s fourteen. Maybe I should go and talk like this in there.” And they were like, “No Shameik, we like how you talk. We like your voice and want this to be you as much as possible.” We were all on the same page on that. If I’m the voice of Miles Morales, I need the voice to be convincing as I am in ‘Dope’ and as I am in ‘The Get Down’.
You’re working opposite voice guys between Mahershala and Brian and Jake. Was there a point in time where you all got together just to hang out?
Shameik Moore: We haven’t just kicked it outside of work yet, but yeah I got to work in studio with Jake once or a few times. Brian Tyree Henry a few times, but Mahershala and I didn’t have any moments in the booth together. He and I met in a different moment. I actually saw him last week at the Governor’s Awards, he’s real cool.
Did you have any input in terms of the music? We heard there’s some Biggie Smalls in there, we heard some other stuff, and obviously people are going to get a kick to that. Was that any of your choices or was it just all by what was on page?
Shameik Moore: Yeah, I don’t have anything to do with anything else but performing the lines that I’m given, but I do think that they did a great job with the soundtrack as well. I love Biggie, so I listen to a lot of Biggie music all the time and them putting him in there was really cool for me, personally. But yeah, you got so many other artists in there. You got Ty Dolla, you got Swae Lee, you got Jaden Smith, there’s a few people, so.
How’s life been for you as an actor? How’s the work going? Is it just going back and forth and hoping you can get the best work possible that’s offered to you?
Shameik Moore: Yeah, it’s just about being strategic and I really take pride in my mystique. I want to bring different parts of my personality out in different characters that I decide to play over my career’s lifespan. I’ve really been working on music, getting ready to present myself next year, 2019, self expression. So the people can get to know who I am as Shameik and that way whatever role I play is just heightened their perception on who I really am. Now that you get to know me a little bit more through my music, it’ll be like, “This is him as this ’70s bad boy. This is him as the voice of the black Spider-Man.” So yeah.
Is there a certain theme to the music you’re playing?
Shameik Moore: It’s R&B with an influence from hip-hop and reggae.
With the films you’re looking for, what is it you’re looking for as opposed to what’s being offered to you?
Shameik Moore: Ultimately I want to be in a superhero film, I want to be in a romance film, and I want to be in an action film. I want to try to touch every job, I would love to have a scary film. But what I’m being offered? I mean I just got offered some really cool things that I’m going to probably do next year, that I’m really excited about. But that’s what I’m really going for, the genres I just told you, but beyond that I’ve been working on creating my own stories. So I’ve been writing with a few friends and some talented, talented writers. And yeah, that’s 2021 right there. We’ve got plans for you already..
So at the end of the day, whether people recognize you from ‘The Get Down’ or ‘Dope’, and they’re going to now know you as Miles Morales, how do you stay humble?
Shameik Moore: I think it’s just the people that’s around me. They don’t seem extremely hyped. Everybody’s really chill about it. My team will remind me, “Hey, you should be really flippin’ excited about this right here. ‘Cause look, this movie’s about to blow up.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I know.” I did the work, they did the work, this is what’s supposed to happen. I’m also very thankful. I’m thankful the work is being received ’cause there’s so many situations where people don’t live up to the expectations, but I think in this situation, we’re exceeding expectations which is what the response that we’re getting could be coming from.