Winston Duke is a tall drink of water. That’s not really saying a lot when I only clock in at 5′ 2″, but he is. Andy Serkis is not nearly as tall, but his presence fills the room right up as he enters the door and casually starts up a conversation with me as if he isn’t the megastar that he is. I look him firmly in the eye and tell him that he’s usually the CGI guy that we love to be annoyed by, but I’m happy that in Black Panther, we get to see his full face, even if he’s still a major annoyance. Both Duke and Serkis play antagonists in Black Panther, and they play them well. You’ll remember Serkis as Klaue from his introduction as the vibranium stealing arms dealer in Avengers Age of Ultron. His arm is sliced off with little regard by Ultron, and we’re not really sure of his status. We do care, because we know that Klaue is an integral connection between Captain America, Wakanda and Black Panther. You soon learn why in the introduction of Black Panther, and well, yeah, you keep Serkis on your love to hate list.
Duke is another story. He’s a leader of a tribe in Wakanda and he’s an antagonist that you’re not quite sure you SHOULD hate, but you do. You don’t hate his reasoning, but he’s a cocky something or another, and well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to see what else he has in store. He doesn’t mind talking over others he deems beneath him, and in a way, you’ll find yourself completely here for him. Kind of. Given that this is his very first film, he blows the role as a cocky antagonist out of the water. He also does a MEAN impression of Ryan Coogler,
We got to sit down with the pair for a roundtable interview and the conversation was DEEP. I’m at fault for asking a question that required an answer FULL of spoilers – my bad colleagues – but I’ll share that with you after the film has been out for a bit of time.
Instead, here are the things we discussed, and some great eye-candy of a cleaned up thuggish looking Serkis and hide-wrapped Duke.
On how it feels to play a bad guy
AS: Being able to dip into the dark side in a safe space is great. Klaue is not a general archetypal villain. He’s purely selfish – while being THE WORST – but strangely, he might be someone that you may want to hang out with. He’s not completely a baddie, but he’s someone that challenges the battle between good and evil. I wanted to make him complex since we’re all on the spectrum. No one is completely evil – because they have the ability to love, and no one is completely good – because they have the ability to do bad things – I want him to be complex, and still show him having a good time as well.
WD: M’Baku isn’t a leader of a religious cult, he’s one of an established grounded tribe. I was given the opportunity to create a new language within that world essentially. And the one thing that Marvel did great that really grounded and created a new world, a new life for M’Baku was that it was a departure from the comics in a sense that it’s no longer this M’Baku being the leader of this religious minority. So that gives you a lot more agency, it gives you a lot more presence, it gives you a lot more strength and ability within that world. And creating that society that lives outside of Wakanda proper was something that was really great. I kind of want them to have this calm response nature and I want this to be present. And you go off and you study this and study that and bring it back and he’s like
“yeah-yeah-yeah cool- cool- cool- cool- cool- cool- cool- I think I’m going to use that yeah. I like that I like that.“
So he exhibited a lot of trust when it came to us and he exhibited- it was very much a collaborative space. So you’d go in there and you’d try some things out and it would work and it felt very safe.