How Aquaman And Matrix 4 Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Actually Feels About Having To Maintain Those Muscles For Roles

Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) stares ominously in Aquaman (2018)

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Many of us would probably relish the opportunity to star in massive Hollywood blockbusters. Doing so would probably pair you with skilled directors and stars and allow you to act out some pretty cool scenes. However, if you’re a staple of big-budget movies, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pack on plenty of muscle and maintain it. This is what bonafide star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who has roles in the Aquaman and Matrix franchises, is experiencing at the moment. So how does he feel about having to keep the muscle for his high-profile roles?

One can absolutely understand why an actor would need to stay in superhero-like shape for a massive movie. Nevertheless, doing so can still be a strain on a performer -- one can only be without cookies for so long. While recently discussing the matter, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II offered an honest and funny response, and it’s the latter portion of his comments evokes a feeling we can all relate to:

We’re in a space in film where you’ve got to work out, and look good and get the muscles. I’m still waiting on that ice-cream role: the role where I can sit back and watch TV and eat ice-cream and that’s gonna be my preparation!

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s comments to The Guardian indicate that he’s more than aware of the fitness requirements for blockbusters, and he seems to take it in stride. Still, you can’t blame him for wanting to switch things up a bit in the near future. And seriously, can we at least get this man a small bowl of ice cream, please? He’s earned it.

The public is used to seeing stars like Aquaman’s Jason Momoa and Jungle Cruise’s Dwayne Johnson stay in shape. But in the last several years, we’ve seen plenty of other A-listers join major franchises and build muscle. Many people are probably still shaken by Kumail Nanjiani’s physical transformation for Eternals, and do we even have to mention Natalie Portman’s insane arms for Thor: Love and Thunder?

Despite his rigorous workout routines, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is likely glad to have so much work on his hands. And one would think that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan appreciates the actor’s efforts. The same can surely be said for Lana Wachowski, director of The Matrix 4. Abdul-Mateen II’s role in the latter film will be particularly interesting to see when it arrives later this year in theaters and on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.

As someone who enjoys Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s work, I definitely commend his dedication to the physicality needed for his roles. I’ll also continue to hope that he can one day achieve his dream of landing that coveted ice cream-eating job.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.