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Brian Tyree Henry has a special connection to Miles Morales that goes beyond his role in the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. After all, he co-stars alongside Donald Glover on the hit FX series Atlanta, and Glover was famously the inspiration for Miles' creation. It's why the actor/writer also appeared in last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming... though that actually created its own funny situation in their friendship, according to Henry:
I remember when they were filming Spider-Man: Homecoming in Atlanta - don't think I didn't know - I just remember Donald would disappear and I was like, 'If he's out there playing Spider-Man right now, and I'm not on set watching this, I'm going to be so mad.'
I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez for a paired interview late last week during the Los Angeles press day for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and during our conversation I brought up Henry's extracurricular connection to the story being told in the animated feature. It came after the actor had earlier expressed a real love for the web-slinging hero, so his feelings about Spider-Man: Homecoming weren't super surprising.
For those who don't recall, Donald Glover doesn't actually play Spider-Man in the 2017 Marvel film, but instead a character named Aaron Davis -- Miles Morales' uncle in the comics (and voiced by Mahershala Ali in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse). Though it seems like Brian Tyree Henry would have been very excited to watch Glover's live performance, there was a lot of secrecy surrounding the role during production, and that may have been the explanation for why there was no access available to him.
Donald Glover's specific history with Spider-Man dates back to June 2010. It was at that time that a campaign started to try and get him considered as the lead for the then-developing Amazing Spider-Man, and it started a massive debate online between fans. The ordeal was referenced in an episode of Glover's television series Community (where he was briefly shown wearing Spider-Man pajamas), and the look caught the eye of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli. The duo was inspired to create Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man for the Ultimate Universe Marvel Comics, which at the time was planning the death of Peter Parker.
Seven years after his creation, Miles Morales now has his own movie, and Brian Tyree Henry is playing Jefferson Davis -- Miles' father. It's not only a role that the actor really loved to play, but during the interview he expressed extreme pride in the project as a whole. Said Henry,
I'm so honored, actually. Because I can't wait for [Donald Glover] to see this, and know that it came to fruition. You know what I mean? I'm so glad that the story of Miles didn't fall short... I'm glad that it actually came to actuality and that it turned out so amazingly, though.
You can watch Brian Tyree Henry talk about Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and the Donald Glover connection by clicking play on the video below!
In addition to Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse features an outstanding cast that includes Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Lily Tomlin, Liev Schreiber, and more. Catch it in theaters on December 21st, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for a whole lot more of my interviews with the cast and filmmakers behind the movie!