BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Prince Akeem and King Jaffe Joffer, the two main characters in the blockbuster classic Coming to America, would have been proud of the depiction of a fictional African civilization in Black Panther.
Not since Eddie Murphy’s timeless 1988 masterpiece has there been such a procession of African-inspired majesty concentrated in one place. And the near unanimous rave reviews from attendees of the Los Angeles world premiere last week has created a crescendo of anticipation unprecedented in modern urban American history, if ever.
Therefore, it was apropos that the cast and crew satiated the fans’ thirst to see the film by assembling at the Montage Hotel outside Los Angeles to discuss the much anticipated Marvel Studios film
On hand were Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa), Michael B. Jordan (Kilmonger), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Forrest Whitaker (Zuri), Angela Bassett (Ramonda), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Andy Serkis (Klaw), Martin Freeman (Agent Ross) and Winston Duke (M’Baku). Marvel Studios President and Black Panther producer Kevin Feige and director Ryan Coogler (Creed and Fruitvale Station).
The cast members could hardly contain their excitement. Nyong’o acknowledged she had been waiting a long time to see the finished product on the big screen and shared, “I was so so so excited because this was a film we all felt a lot of ownership of, that we thoroughly enjoyed making.”
Ryan, 31, admitted he felt “incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to make the film this way, with this studio.” He added he enjoyed having the opportunity to work with his mentor Forrest Whitaker and people he has watched his whole life.
Boseman admitted he knew when he was being cast in Civil War that Black Panther would be coming down the pipe as a “stand alone.” Marvel decided the best way to introduce Black Panther was as part of the Marvel Comic Universe.
Feige said Boseman was the unanimous choice to play Black Panther, as multiple people thought of him while having a discussion of who could play Black Panther in Civil War. They got him on the phone while in the back of a limo in Zurich, Switzerland.
“I was coming off the red carpet for Get On Up and my agent was like, ‘You gotta get on the phone,’“ Boseman said. He said he had just gotten long distance service put on his cell phone earlier that day.
Press conference facilitator Nischelle Turner of “Entertainment Tonight“ pointed out that the way the women handled themselves in the film, it could have been called, “The Bad Ass Women of Wakanda” and asked the female cast members how proud were they to “see themselves being so powerful, beautiful and regal on the screen.” Angela Bassett, a classically trained actress, shared she was extraordinarily proud and said, “In African culture, they feel there is no king without a queen and this story highlights the queen, the warrior, the general, the young sister. I was so proud to have my daughter and my son there last night because in their faces and in their spirit, they were feeling themselves. They stood taller after last night.”
Nyong’o spoke of women not being pitted against each other on film saying, “Often times, we as women fall into traps, there’s a competitive spirit, but in Black Panther, we see women going about our business, having other points of view but still not being against each other. The fact that there’s so many of us, we really get a sense of the fabric of Wakanda as a nation. We see women alongside men and we see how much more effective a society can be if they allow women to explore their full potential.”
There are only two white people in Black Panther and both Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman shared about being two white guys on a set of primarily Black actors. “You reminded me of a story of Ryan saying to us before a scene, he came up to us and said, ‘I’ve never directed two white actors before,’” revealed Serkis. “We’re both like, yeah, probably not. It was kind of hilarious, but at the same time, like f**k that’s tragic. It was kind of insane. But it was an incredible experience working with Ryan, he’s one of the most brilliant, warm, humble, visionary directors. Just to be part of this.”
“I hated it,” Freeman said matter-of-factly (but jokingly).
”To be able to be part of something that is so groundbreaking and should have been made years ago, but now is the time and things are changing rapidly in filmmaking,” added Serkis. “The needle should swing the other way people we need to change things.”
On playing Black Panther, Boseman insisted that he have an authentic African accent. He said, “I think as actors, this is separate from the movie, but when you’re trained, you’re trained very often from a European perspective. What is considered great and classical is very often British and certain writers. I happen to come from a background that does not believe that. I went to Oxford to study, but I went to Howard. We were taught to respect our writers and our classics just as much and believe that it takes the same skill level and same technique and sometimes techniques that are different to pull it off.”
He said he used to be asked whether people would sit through a movie with a lead character with an accent. He became adamant that was possible and explained, “The intonations and melodies inside of an African accent are just as classical as a British one or a European one and all the emotions and aspects of a character can be shown through that accent and we have to take this opportunity to show that.”
Check out the press conference below:
Source: YouTube/Superhero News/Black Panther