Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers from the first season of Luke Cage. If you’re caught up (or don’t care that I’m about to spoil the entire season for you), keep on scrolling.
With the street-level superheroes showcased in the Marvel Netflix shows comes even more street-level criminals. Because of that, we’ve seen our fair share of “common” villains throughout two seasons of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones. As the first season of Luke Cage hit Netflix this past Friday, Marvel introduced several new villains into the MCU include Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, “Black” Mariah Dillard, Hernan “Shades” Alvarez, and Willis “Diamondback” Stryker.
Throughout the first half of the season, the main bad-guy was “Cottonmouth” Stokes, rightfully so as he was portrayed as such in the majority of the marketing leading up to the shows premiere. When Black Mariah goes off the deep end and ends up killing her cousin Cottonmouth (see, I said there’d be spoilers), the show’s creators had to have someone fill his place. Enter Diamondback.
Willis Stryker, a.k.a. Diamondback is Luke Cage’s half-brother. Stryker helps develop the “Judas Bullet”, a bullet using alien metals found after The Incident/Battle of New York, making it the only weapon that’s able to penetrate Luke’s skin.
Erik LaRay Harvey, the actor that portrays Diamondback in the MCU, sat down with Entertainment Weekly for an interview following Friday’s Luke Cage debut. At the beginning of casting, Harvey shared he didn’t know which character he was auditioning for.
I got the call from my agent saying Marvel wanted to see me. And, of course, they’re so secretive, so I knew it was Luke Cage, but I didn’t know the role they wanted to see me for. They just gave me a general audition script, and then once I did my initial audition, they called me back. They had the Diamondback character in mind for me, but at the time, they couldn’t tell me exactly who I would be. [Laughs] They just assured me that it was going to be a wonderful thing, and would I like to be a part of the project and, of course, I said yes. I knew the project would be relevant, and I wanted to be a part of it.
With Cottonmouth “out” and Diamondback taking his place for the remainder of the season, Harvey didn’t seem to be affected too much joining the cast halfway through filming.
That’s happened to me a couple of times even in stage and theater work, when someone bows out or they get replaced or whatever… but [on Luke Cage], they all knew, all of the cast members knew that I wouldn’t be coming in until episode 7. We did an initial cast dinner before they even started episode 1, you know, at this really secretive restaurant in Brooklyn. [Laughs] I met everyone there and was like, “Okay, see you guys in a couple of months! You guys go first!” [Laughs]
That was sort of a blessing in disguise too because in a new show, there’s always working out the kinks and getting familiar with everyone, so when I stepped on to the set, that process had already been explored. It was just a nice environment to work in and everyone was really gracious.
When asked about why his character always appeared to be smiling even though he was a murderous psychopath, Harvey said he thinks it’s all just a game to his character.
Well, in a sense, this is a game to him. I think truly deep down, inside, he still loves Carl. That’s the funny thing about family, right? You hate ‘em but you love ‘em. You love ‘em but you hate ‘em. [Laughs] It’s one of those situations. He remembers a loving time they had before they had the mess, so [the thinking] is partly like, “I really need to hurt him but I don’t want to kill him.” So it becomes this game, and I think the smile is just the mask he wears with everyone. It’s not genuine. He’s not trying to be nice or to befriend anyone. It’s just his way of dealing with his pain. He smiles through his pain.
In addition to the interview, EW also released the following never-before-seen poster.
Source: Entertainment Weekly.