When Marvel’s Inhumans comes to theaters and television this fall, the Inhuman royal family will be led by an unlikely hero, Black Bolt (Anson Mount). While Black Bolt is undeniably powerful, in his powers also lies his weakness as a leader: if he speaks out loud, his voice has the power to destroy entire cities. For this reason, he is unable to speak directly to his people. In a recent interview, Mount explained that this contradiction is what drew him to this part, which was offered to him directly by Jeph Loeb.
That was primarily my interest in playing the role. The challenge of playing a role that is not only unable to speak but also unable to use American Sign Language because he’s not from here… Jeph Loeb knew me well enough to know what would be my interest with the role. The role would have been under-serviced if they held auditions.
Mount went on to say that there were many discussions with Loeb and showrunner Scott Buck in lieu of an audition, where they explored how to approach bringing Black Bolt to life. With the intricacies of Black Bolt, Mount suggests that the way that the character takes his powers so seriously, are why he is so popular. Of course, a rich history in the comics doesn’t hurt.
Stan Lee’s a very good writer. I don’t think it’s a mistake that Black Bolt is one of the more loved characters in the Marvel Universe. I think readers are drawn to Black Bolt because he’s a leader who is aware that his voice has an extraordinary power. That his voice can literally kill. And he’s taken responsibility for that to the extent that he does things like meditates an hour before he sleeps so he doesn’t speak in his sleep. We immediately see a responsible head of state [in the show]. Also, that burden has turned him to somebody that’s been emotionally removed, so we kinda lean forward to that a bit.
It’s hard to get a feel of Mount’s Black Bolt in the short bits that we have ween of him in the trailer, but we have seen him slip and use his voice, while being attacked. This has led fans to wonder about this detail that Mount mentioned – how Black Bolt meditates for an hour every night to keep himself from uttering any sound. Will this character have as much self-control as his comic version?
Without the use of American Sign Language, Mount is going to have limited ways to communicate. Some folks have been wondering if, in a modern age, the character will resort to more modern ways of communication, such as texting or a synthetic voice, but when we finally see the character in action, his ways of communication will be unlike anything that already exists.
One of the more entertaining things about performance is seeing the performers struggle with the role in a way that is not indulgent but maybe in parallel with their character. So I want to be challenged. I don’t want to make things easy for me. When [director] Roel Reine came in, we had never worked together before and he said to me ‘Okay we’ve got it figured out. We’re gonna give you 15 or 16 signs you can repeat,’ and I was like ‘No, that’s not gonna happen,’ (laughs). So I have a sign consultant and have been building a lexicon as I go. I have a huge file in Google Docs of photos of myself and my hands along with definitions. I’m stealing some of the rules of how ASL works but I’m also making sure that they don’t overlap. I’m borrowing sort of the common sense tools.
The fact that Black Bolt ever succeeded as a comic character is amazing, when you consider the constraints in his communication. The dedication that Mount is putting toward this role, and overcoming the unique obstacles that the King of the Inhumans presents, shows that this one character is definitely going to be brought to life as best ass possible when Inhumans premieres this fall.
With all of the talk of grounding this universe, it’s great to know that the King of the Inhumans won’t be walking around with an iPad that he shoves in people’s face. What are you most excited about, when we finally see him brought to life? Let us know, in the comments!