Andy Serkis & Martin Freeman Interview: Black Panther

Martin Freeman has paved his way through geekdom, having acquired recognition as Dr. John Watson in BBC’s Sherlock before being swept up into the Shire as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy. He’s also starred in the sci-fi comedy The World’s End and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. After appearing as Everett K. Ross in Captain America: Civil War, he will be reprising the role in the upcoming Marvel’s Black Panther.

Andy Serkis is an actor and director whose name has become synonymous with motion capture performance. His most well known roles due to his motion capture performances are Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong from the 2005 King Kong remake, and Caesar from the Planet of the Apes reboot series. Now he will be portraying Ulysses Klaue in Marvel’s Black Panther.

Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Martin Freeman and Andy Serkin on press day, where they discussed how Everett K. Ross comes to personify the audience as he takes in Wakanda, how it helped Andy to have portrayed Ulysses Klaue in Ultron when approaching the character in this film, and where they would like to see Ross in future Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Screen Rant: First of all guys, amazing job. This is an amazing film, it’s groundbreaking, it transcends the superhero genre, which I loved tremendously. First of all, for Martin: You were the audience’s eyes and ears throughout this experience in entering the unknown of Wakanda. How did you approach that, mainly since you've been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before?

Martin Freeman: Well, I mean, I approached it generally by reading the script and doing the lines.

Andy Serkis: [Laughs.]

Martin Freeman: Yeah, [Director Ryan Coogler] and I talked before shooting began, a couple of months before. We had talked about it and we talked extensively, just about and around the subject. I think we just got to know each other, got to know each other a little bit about where we were coming from, about the British thing and the American thing. And we talk politics a lot, we talk social politics a lot and we had a really good time. But as I couldn't really take credit for shaping the script other than, you know, all I said, you know, several times was I don't want to be the goofy white guy who hasn't got any rhythm among a load of really cool sexy black people, do you know what I mean? I don't want that. That was my only note.

SR: This is a great film because you get to a point where you don't even realize the color of the people in the film.

Martin Freeman: I think that’s how it's got to-, it’s how it, you know, surely, that's the entire point of where we want to eventually get to!

Andy Serkis: Has to, isn’t it?

Martin Freeman: I mean, like, someone said, you know, you don't eat a pizza thinking, “God, I'm so Italian.” After a while, you know, it just becomes pizza. It’s just a thing. And this film, hopefully, once the pieces have fallen and once there are a few more films like this, it’ll go, “Oh, it’s a film.”

SR: Exactly. Now Andy, you play [Ulysses] Klaue with this sense of, like, glee and he just jumps off the screen at you and you got the chance to play him in Age Of Ultron. Did that actually help you at all for preparing for the Black Panther, getting into the mindset of who Klaue was?

Andy Serkis: Oh! Yeah, of course! I mean, I had to. When I started working on Ultron, you know, I knew that predominantly he was, you know, an adversary of the Black Panther so I knew that that's where the meat of the story would lie. And so I was delighted when the Black Panther was announced and I knew that, “Wow, I’m potentially gonna get a chance to revisit the character in the world that he’s supposed to be.”

So and then, you know, again, meeting Ryan, talking to him, seeing his vision, hearing the way he was talking about what he wanted to do with this movie. And then just sort of opening up the humor with the character and making him, you know, yes, a danger and a threat and an adversary but also as someone who is slightly unhinged and kind of a bit quirky and sort of you can't put your finger on him you don't know what his, how he's going to turn. So that was all, sort of came out of discussion and just trying things out actually, just trying things out.

Martin Freeman: Trying things out is the most fun thing about being an actor. It’s the most pleasurable thing.

SR: Well, I mean your character is now becoming, like, this big popular fan favorite.

Martin Freeman: Is that right?

SR: Yeah!

Martin Freeman: Oh, I’m glad to hear that.

SR: I love Ross. He's like a staple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, he’s like Coulson.

Martin Freeman: I’m delighted.

SR: Where would you like to see Ross appear next and what would you what would you like do with the character?

Martin Freeman: I’d like to see him appear on a beach somewhere, just lounging. Not lounging, I mean we do very, very important work but with a martini on a sun lounge on a beach. I mean, again I’m just riffing, I don’t know, as I’ve not got it all worked out but it would involve lying down in shorts.

Andy Serkis: Would you stretch to a jet ski?

Martin Freeman: Yeah.

Andy Serkis: I’ve stretched to a jet ski.

Martin Freeman: On the back of it, being driven by somebody else!

SR: Well guys, you guys did an incredible job. This is an amazing film, thank you guys so much for your time.

MORE: Lupita Nyong'o Interview for Black Panther

Key Release Dates
  • Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
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