Chadwick Boseman studied the “quiet strength” of warriors and political leaders to become Black Panther character King T’Challa.
The 41-year-old Get on Up actor stars as the leader of Wakanda, a technologically advanced African nation, in Marvel’s first standalone movie to feature a black superhero. The movie, which had its premiere on Tuesday (30Jan18), stars the cream of Hollywood’s black stars including Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan and British Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya.
In an interview with PORTER magazine, the actor revealed his real-world inspiration for the cat-like superhero. When creating his character King T’Challa’s regal presence, the actor explained how he drew inspiration from black leaders past and present.
“I studied that quiet strength, how the body exudes it,” he explained. “I looked at Masai warriors, I watched the movies. And other leaders like Patrice Lumumba (the famous Congolese leader), (former U.S. President) BarackObama. I listened to Mandela’s speeches in my trailer.”
Boseman also felt that it was important for his character to have an African accent, something others tried to dissuade him from.
“There was a time period where people would ask me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character that spoke with that accent,” Boseman said of T’Challa’s east African inflection at a press conference in Los Angeles earlier this week. “I became adamant about the fact that it’s not true,” adding that the doubters hadn’t come from within Marvel.
“The intonations and melodies inside an African accent are just as classical as a British one or a European one,” he told AFP.
At 41, he is older than many of the other actors who have taken on Marvel superhero roles. When asked about why he thought fame came so late for him, he answered: “You say later, but when did it come to Denzel (Washington) or Samuel L. Jackson or Morgan Freeman? And why is that? I don’t have the answer, but it’s a question to pose.
“The industry looks for white actors and actresses, but it’s not the same for black actors. We have to really put the work in,” added the actor who credits his daily workouts and “almost vegan” diet for his youthful looks.
Black Panther begins hitting theatres February 12th.