The Brilliant Way Danai Gurira And Angela Bassett Collaborated For The Powerful Throne Room Scene In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is packed with emotional moments that punch directly at the heart, and there are few quite as powerful as the exchange between Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda in the Wakandan throne room. The former reports to the latter that Shuri (Letitia Wright) has been kidnapped by the warriors from Talocan, and the passion that is expressed in the moment from both performers physically pushes you into the back of your chair. It’s some of the best acting featured in the film, and that can in part be credited to the awesome collaboration between the stars.

Speaking with the cast and filmmakers of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever during the movie’s Los Angeles press day late last month, I specifically asked Danai Gurira about the scene in question – both in terms of the emotional perspective of her character and working with Angela Bassett. She began by explaining what the moment means for Okoye, as Shuri’s kidnapping is a painful failure for the character given her position as the leader of the Dora Milaje – and yet she also doesn’t anticipate the consequences that are delivered. Said Gurira,

It was amazing. It was intense. It was a very intense and exhausting day. My character is exhausted. She's horrified at her failings and she doesn't expect even the result to be as dire as it is at the same time. So it's a lot that's going on for her in that scene. And this relationship between her and the queen is more than dear to her. So there's that as well that's, you know, stirring in her.

In the context of the scene (which I won’t further spoil here), the kidnapping of Shuri is just the latest tragedy to befall Wakanda – and Okoye is already weighed down with guilt and mourning following the death of King T’Challa. It’s a hard time for her, and the horrible energy of everything explodes when it collides with the intense pain felt by Queen Ramonda, who fears that her entire family has been ripped away from her.

One could imagine that just a single take of the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever exchange between the characters would be enough to wipe out the performers, but it took much more than that, and it only makes the moment in the blockbuster greater knowing the lengths to which Danai Gurira and Angela Bassett went in order to ensure the work was perfect. When the scene was being captured from multiple angles, it didn’t matter who was on camera and who wasn’t; both of them gave it their all in every take. Said Gurira,

The beauty of it all is working with the people I get to work with – I'm blessed enough to work with. Sometimes I say it's because a lot of us are from theater, but that's not right to say necessarily. We just give each other everything we've got; it doesn't matter who the camera is focused on. So that was a day where I really was so thankful for our ensemble because when the camera was on her, I was giving her everything I had, and when the camera was on me she was giving me everything she had. It didn't matter.

It seemingly wasn’t something that either actor had to ask for – it was just about both of them doing their part as members of the production. She continued,

That’s when you know you're in good company, when that's just what we naturally do for each other. We live in the story as many times as necessary to deliver the story as fully as we possibly can.

Also featuring terrific performances from Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Tenoch Huerta, and Martin Freeman, the critically acclaimed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters everywhere.

For more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can read our ranking of the MCU movies, and learn about the intricacies of the Marvel timeline. To learn about all of the projects that are in the works from Marvel Studios, check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV guides.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.