Djimon Hounsou is a Hollywood veteran with two Oscar nominations under his belt. More recently, Hounsou has been heavily involved in the superhero genre, appearing in both the DC and Marvel franchises. Newer moviegoers might recognize him from his roles in the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, or Shazam! films, but once you dive deeper into the Beninese-born actor’s resume, you’ll find that he is quite versatile. From his work in critically acclaimed pictures like Amistad, Gladiator, and Blood Diamond, it’s clear that he can dominate the screen when given the ample chance to do so. And that’s exactly what writer-director Zack Snyder has planned for Djimon Hounsou in his new sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon.
Zack Snyder is moving on from the worlds of DC to build a new original universe with Netflix. Rebel Moon was originally his Star Wars pitch to Lucasfilm but is now Netflix’s new hopeful mega-franchise. The streamer already has multiple spin-offs planned for Snyder’s sci-fi universe across various mediums, including animation, comics, and games. If that wasn’t enough to promise fans that the director has creative control of his vision this time around, Netflix has agreed to split Rebel Moon into two parts, each of which will receive a Rated-R Director’s Cut from Snyder down the line. The first part, Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire introduces Djimon Hounsou as General TItius, a disgraced warrior who seeks redemption in the galactic battle against the very oppressors he used to lead armies for.
Rebel Moon is set in a universe controlled by the corrupt Motherworld and the evil Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) who uses his Imperium army to rule over the galaxy with a tight grip. Veldt is the moon where we first meet our protagonist Kora (Sofia Boutella). She’s put a life of war behind her and now resides in a peaceful settlement as a farmer, but when the cruel Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) arrives to strip away their resources for the Imperium, she’s left with no choice but to form her own rebellion. Kora and her fellow farmer Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) embark on a journey to recruit a small band of warriors from across the stars who will come to defend Veldt from the tyrannical Motherworld. This leads Kora to Titus, a former Imperium General who has been long ready to change sides.
Written by Kurt Johnstad (300), Shay Hatten (John Wick: Chapter 4), and Snyder himself, Rebel Moon blends elements of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai with the sci-fi trademarks that George Lucas popularized with Star Wars. The other fighters that Kora recruits in the movie include the mercenary pilot Kai (Charlie Hunnam), a nobleman who can bond with animals named Tarak (Staz Nair), the cyborg swordsman simply known as Nemesis (Doona Bae), and the insurgent leaders Darrian and Devra Bloodaxe (played by Ray Fisher and Cleopatra Coleman, respectively). There’s also a robot knight named Jimmy (voiced by Anthony Hopkins) who acts like a guide to the audience, introducing them to much of this universe’s rich history.
We sat down with Djimon Hounsou to discuss his experience working on Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon and what the role of General Titus means to him. The Oscar-nominated actor teases fans what to expect from his character in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver and also talks about reprising his role from A Quiet Place Part II in the upcoming prequel film, A Quiet Place: Day One. Additionally, we follow up about his thoughts on unfair pay gaps in Hollywood actors, which he first brought up in a recent interview with The Guardian.
Exclusive Interview with Djimon Hounsou for Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire
What drew you to portray General Titus in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon?
Djimon Hounsou: Titus was a General for the Imperium for which he worked and committed many crimes before. The way the story was written, read epic to me in the sense that you could see, for example, the geopolitical tentacles that have been holding the continent of Africa back for centuries. That resonates loudly in this film, and so that was my organic connection to playing General Titus.
Can you talk about your collaboration with Zack Snyder and what pointers he gave you in developing the character of General Titus?
Djimon Hounsou: Well, what points did he give me and what points did he not give me… it was everything. He’s literally the bible that we all tapped into to comprehend our backstories and the arcs of our characters. And so in particular, my character, the fact that he also brought a certain level of a cultural affinity to General Titus, and you will see that in Part Two where I sing a tribal song.
It was such an amazing ensemble cast, like a global team, if you will, that he brought together where everybody’s own cultural relevance came through. You have people from Europe and India, you have people from North Africa, you have myself from Sub-Saharan Africa, and so on. It was an eclectic group of people that Zack brought together.
What was it like acting on the major sets and locations of Rebel Moon?
Djimon Hounsou: Most of the sets were not as big as they appeared on film. But I think the set that we were more familiar with was the Veldt moon. That in itself was very grounding because, again, there was no point of reference for any of us given the fact that we’re in space for the most part. There was no way of really understanding the space, this space was a character that was completely foreign to most of us. So, we had to surrender our beliefs to Zack’s visual concepts.
In an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, you said that you’ve felt unfairly cheated by the pay you’ve received for many past film roles. Has this changed at all recently?
Djimon Hounsou: You know, it is still with a certain level of challenge, in respect of where I’m at with the whole business aspect of filmmaking. Another person told me that for the decades that I’ve been part of the industry now, he hasn’t seen a film in a while where I’ve been given my due. I’m not quite sure how to answer that right now, but it’s not where it needs to be yet. Let’s put it that way.
Your career boasts a lot of mid to big-budget action dramas as well as some comic book films. How do you go about navigating these genres?
Djimon Hounsou: I still have to live up to the way Rebel Moon was written, right? It was written with the sense of an epic film, in which I have to see the relevance of what I know. And knowing the geopolitical problems with the indoctrination of the continent of Africa is the most grounding aspect of being part of this film for me because everything else is all about fantasy.
We’re dealing with people in this fantasy world who have to overcome tremendous trauma. We have all had to overcome our own demons. Everyone in the cast makes up the sort of fabric of the Imperium’s control over the universe. So, there was a tremendous need for redemption from each character. And that set the story apart from similar films like Star Wars and you name it.
What do you hope audiences will take away from your performance as General Titus in Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire?
Djimon Hounsou: That you can be so far down and so lost, and yet there is still always hope. And not to be complacent in situations like what we face in Rebel Moon.
To end off, I wanted to ask about your next big film, A Quiet Place: Day One. What is it like returning to that world?
Djimon Hounsou: It’s been fun. I was in A Quiet Place Part II and I had a contract that extended to A Quiet Place: Day One. We went and filmed that earlier this year, but I guess I have to go back for reshoots soon anyway.
I’m looking forward to seeing you in that as well as both parts of Rebel Moon.
Djimon Hounsou: You’re most welcome. Yeah, the second part [of Rebel Moon] is much more appealing. I mean, you will really get a better understanding of the whole cast.