Last week’s official press conference for Marvel’s What If…? gave a number of very interesting tidbits about the making and future of the series, but it was also surprisingly touching. Director Bryan Andrews and Jeffrey Wright, voice of Uatu the Watcher, had some heartwarming stories to share about the late Chadwick Boseman and kind words on his posthumous final performance as T’Challa.
Andrews, who had worked as a storyboard artist on numerous MCU films prior to his directorial debut on What If…?, said that the time they shared with Chadwick Boseman was short compared to those who worked on Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War because of the tighter nature of the episodes. But he said that they were very grateful to have him for a “little moment.”
“I think [Chadwick] may have been even one of the first actors that signed on and said, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m gonna do that voice.’ We were so excited because we really wanted to work with Chadwick and we just loved Black Panther, and we love him. Specifically, something that was kind of fun is he’s theatrically trained and, you know, sometimes you get the actors in the booth who like to work differently. Based on the needs or the wants of the particular actor at play, sometimes they don’t wanna just hit the line, be done, move on to the next one and that’s it. It’s cool.”
Andrews further continued to add how Boseman treated line readings as a play rather than a scene, based on his background and training as a theatrical performer, which brought an extra layer of effort and depth to his performance not only as T’Challa Star-Lord but his other performances as T’Challa throughout What If..?
“None of us knew what he was going through at the time, of course. And he came and he brought it and had a lot of fun. It was really great to hear him talk about [how] he was excited to play this particular version of T’Challa because it was different. Because it was a version of him being able to play the king, but the king without the mantle, you know, without the mantle of royalty and all the other things that go with it. Completely different spin, he could lighten it up, he could get a little bit more jokey with it. He was excited to bring that flavor to T’Challa and give it to the audience so we can see a slightly different version of him.”
Jeffrey Wright chimed in on the conversation after hearing Andrews’ praise of Boseman, and shared the story of his first encounter with his late What If…? co-star.
“I actually met Chadwick for the first time, I think at Comic-Con in the bathroom, as he was about to introduce the first Black Panther film. I was there with Westworld, and we had a really wonderful, wonderful exchange. He said some wonderful things and then we’d run into each other here and there, after.”
Wright also expressed that he would’ve worked with Boseman on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, but unfortunately couldn’t do it as he was tied up with another film at the time. So he was pleasantly surprised when he had the opportunity to work with Boseman, and he finds himself very moved that this is the late actor’s final performance.
“What we all discovered was that the kind of mythic quality that he brought to these performances, kind of paled, in some way, to the mythic quality that was his life. In terms of the way that he was going about doing this work, the grace, the dignity, the power. I’m really pleased to share a little bit of time with him on this.”