Marvel has released a new episode of their “This Week in Marvel” podcast featuring interviews with the cast of Luke Cage. In the conversations the actors discuss their roles and what fans should expect when the series releases tomorrow (!!!), giving some more morsels of info.
First up is the main man himself, Mike Colter. Colter opens up on his experience with Jessica Jones and his relatively low expectations for how that show would be received. While he loved the scripts, he wasn’t convinced it would take off. Did he think that it would become the hit it became?
No, I didn’t. Honestly, I felt like when I was doing it and when I read it I thought it was a wonderful take on a great character and it was a character driven story, but mass appeal, critical acclaim, critical appeal I can never really tell that kind of stuff. You have your own personal taste and I enjoyed it, I thought it was really cool. Yeah, I’m kind of shocked that other people thought that it was really cool too, to that degree.
Colter also is in the awkward position of winning a role that he wasn’t nearly as excited about as many of the other competitors for it. While many actors had their sights set on being Power Man, Colter was far less focused on getting it.
I kind of felt bad for the ones that didn’t get it, because honestly, I was the guy who didn’t know a lot about Luke Cage. I know what its like to want something really really badly, but I also know that in this business you got to let things go.
Colter ultimately thinks he was the right choice. His take on Luke was the best match for what the Marvel brass and the showrunners at Netflix wanted. Taking the time to find the right person for a role is important.
All around Colter is an interesting figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because he appreciates the material, but also isn’t obsessed with it. He wants to make good TV shows and hone his craft as an actor, and Luke Cage is a good place to do that. It’s the quality of the writing, not his love of the intellectual property, that drives his relationship with Marvel. Some of his cast mates, however, are a bit more infatuated with the Marvel brand. For example, Theo Rossi gushed about the chance to work on a Marvel show.
It’s Marvel. It’s everything. It’s the whole thing. You hear it, you don’t realize it. Then you get the call from [Jeph] Loeb [president of Marvel TV]. You’re in the Marvel family and all that, and you process it for a second and for half a second it’s kind of overwhelming cause you’re like “I read comics all my life, you know, I’m probably reading two or three graphic novels as we speak” and I’m sitting here at this moment and I’m like, “This is so crazy.”
Rossi shared some more about his character in Luke Cage, who is probably the least featured thus far in all the promotional materials. It would be easy to think that Shades will be a simple henchman, but from the way Rossi talks about it, there is much more to be revealed about his character.
He’s probably the most interesting character I’ve ever played. Just because there is so much going on. And I’ve been really lucky to play a lot of great characters, but this guy has a LOT going on. And we’re learning more all the time.
Rossi’s character will share the screen with another major villain in Mahershala Ali’s “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Thus far Netflix has featured the best Marvel villains and Ali is invested in making sure that the tradition continues. While it was easy in the early day of comic book movies to merely be an over the top presence, actors must now carefully think through their evil characters and how relatable they are. Ali had this to say:
Now I think the fan base is evolved in a certain way, where it needs to be more layered. It has to be more layered. I think that the bar has to be raised so these characters have to be more grey and fleshed out in a certain way that people can look at them and say, “I know the source material is a comic book, for sure, but on screen when I see them as real people walking around I have to feel like I can relate to that person.”
Ali’s attempts to keep the character rooted in humanity doesn’t mean that viewers should expect a flat character. Quite the opposite, he says that his time as the baddie of this series meant that he had to go to some new places and try some new things as an actor.
And I just think personally as an actor and the things that I’m interested in and looking to do, I feel like this has been an opportunity where I got to be stretched and pushed and be present in a way perhaps I haven’t been present in other series work. To really have an opportunity to play a “villain” (I don’t think as a villain you can ever think of yourself as such) but I’m just really excited about the series.
The podcast includes a lot more conversation about the show. In particular, there are some conversations about the social tone of the show and how it relates to current society. The actors also touch on two prominent parts of the concept for the series, the hip-hop music and the setting of Harlem. Also, Frank Whaley talks a little about his character and shares about his work as a writer and director on other projects. All in all its an hour worth of set up for the series coming.
Luke Cage finally launches on Netflix this Friday, at 12:01AM pacific.