Twitter and Tumblr have a new sweetheart, and his name is Winston Duke. In his very first film role, Duke made an indelible impression on moviegoers as M’Baku, leader of the Jabari tribe. Even in a cast loaded with charisma and stunning good looks, Duke’s witty, vegetarian, gorilla-bemasked challenger made a massive impression appearing in only a few scenes.
It is also fair to say that many ladies have taken a shine to M’baku/Duke.
Indeed, several members of the Black Panther cast did a video “Answer Time” on Tumblr yesterday, the very first “video” answer Time ever held. Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, director Ryan Coogler and, yes, Winston Duke, all participated.
You can see the full video Q&A here, but you may be interested in Duke’s answer to one question.
Q: What was the most rewarding thing about bringing this story to life?
Winston Duke: Opening night, first the carpet but really being there and watching the finished product, and knowing that I was apart of that. There was a woman behind me during one of my various fight scenes going “Jesus, jesus, lord jesus, yes jesus, jesus, jesus,” and I was like “wow, it’s hitting and it’s impacting people” and they’re in the room and it reminded me of a theater performance where the audience was an active participant with what was happening.
If you would like to SEE Duke’s answer – and I know you would – here it is.
Duke seems to be a witty fellow in real life, as well, and I don’t for one minute mean to downplay the immense impact of Black Panther as a social movement and on people’s lives.
That said, I doubt it was solely the cultural impact of Black Panther that had this woman saying “Jesus, jesus, lord jesus, yes jesus, jesus, jesus” while watching Duke in battle.
Just a hunch.
A lot of people are wondering what the next Jesus-inspiring moment will be for Duke. Apparently M’Baku makes an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, doubtless fleeting. After that, incredibly, he has nothing lined up! Casting directors, do not sleep on this! Pre-Black Panther, the 6’4″ Duke would have had a promising career as “the big black guy” in countless action films. Post Black Panther? He might even appear as a well-rounded character in diverse film roles. Anything is possible.
Here’s some more answers from the Tumblr chat with the cast.
Q: Do you think that Black Panther’s huge success will pave the way for more diversity in film?
Winston Duke: I feel what’s really powerful about not just a story where we are visible, but a story where we have a lot of ownness. So it’s directed by a black man, it stars black men and black women and it’s produced by a black man, so there’s a lot more ownership to this narrative than usual. And if that is inspiring people to not only tell the story or be involved in film or tv or music or entertainment, letting them know that ownership is possible. Ownership in your life is possible. Ownness in your own narrative in what you do and how you affect the world is possible. I think that would be a dream come true. So it doesn’t have to really reflect just in film and tv, for me, and I feel like I’m echoed by these guys as well.
Q: What was the best thing about being on set? What was the atmosphere like, knowing you were making history?
Chadwick Boseman: Well I didn’t know that we were making history, we had to make a good movie first.
Danai Gurira: Yeah, I think the stakes were high but that’s because we were very committed and passionate about the story we were trying to tell.
Lupita Nyong’o: Yeah, history is not made, it’s lived, so we were just living in the moment.
Watch them all here.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.