Why Black Panther Was A Different Experience For Marvel Veterans Andy Serkis And Martin Freeman

Black Panther Martin Freeman Andy Serkis

In the comics, Ulysses Klaue and Everett Ross have long been categorized as Black Panther characters -- but on the big screen they actually appeared long before the king of Wakanda's solo movie. Their roles are certainly expanded in writer/director Ryan Coogler's film, but they respectively made their Marvel Cinematic Debuts in The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. This has led to some diverse experiences for actors Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman -- and I recently had the chance to chat with them both about the contrast. Said Serkis,

I had literally a couple of days with Joss [Whedon]. It was establishing the character, and he was creating certainly a paradigm for that character, which was he's a man who wheels and deals with governments; who is an arms dealer; who is incredibly selfish. And then what Ryan did when I came into the movie with Klaue was actually looking at his slightly more unhinged, slightly madder side - the funner side! The fun potential you could have with a dangerous character.

Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman -- who will forever be connected thanks to their roles in The Hobbit -- were paired together for the Black Panther press day late last month, which offered me the opportunity to ask them simultaneously about their past Marvel Studios experiences. Discussing his first time playing Ulysses Klaue, Serkis offered that it did a nice job putting down the groundwork for the character, but followed up saying that Ryan Coogler really let him lean into the more chaotic side of the villain's mind.

As for Martin Freeman, his answer was a bit different because his time on the set of Captain America: Civil War apparently wasn't really as in-depth as Andy Serkis' was making The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And thinking back on the film, that makes sense. Freeman basically has two big scenes in the blockbuster, but serves more as a government figurehead than anything (not unlike Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson was in Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Answering my question about comparing his past Marvel experience to Black Panther, the actor said,

In all honestly, and in fairness to the Russos who I respect tremendously, I had comparatively so little to do in Civil War, [so] I got to know Ryan a lot more. I liked everything about working with Ryan. He was very low key, very committed, hard-working - he knew what he wanted. But he also was very trusting of us, wasn't he? He wanted the scenes to be open and new, and for us to bring whatever we wanted to bring.

You can watch Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman discuss their past and present in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by clicking play on the video below!

Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman are two members of an incredible ensemble that makes up Black Panther, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya, and Winston Duke. The movie is out in theaters everywhere this Friday, February 16th -- and we'll have plenty more from my interviews with the stars and filmmakers in the coming days here on CinemaBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
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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.