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Black Panther stars: We were ‘Tolkien white boys’

By Claire Gregory, Entertainment Reporter
Black Panther is the first film in the Marvel franchise to feature a mostly black cast - but two of its British stars joke that they were the "Tolkien white boys".
Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman, who worked together on the Hobbit trilogy, reprise their roles from previous Marvel outings.Serkis plays villain Ulysses Klaue and Freeman is CIA agent Everett Ross - a giant leap from Serkis's Gollum and Freeman's Bilbo Baggins.Speaking to Sky News, Serkis said their history did not go unmentioned while they were shooting Black Panther."We're proud to be part of a great film predominantly - it just happens to have a black cast, apart from the 'Tolkien white boys' as we've been called," the actor joked.He added: "It's great to be part of a great film, and work with great actors, and a brilliant director."Ryan Coogler's an amazing director and created a fantastic vibe on set, and I suppose the fact that it has been ascribed as a groundbreaking, historic, landmark movie."
Black Panther stars: We were ‘Tolkien white boys’

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Both Serkis and Freeman have reprised their roles from other Marvel films
The movie follows Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, who becomes king of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda after his father dies, and the test he faces when a foe rises up against him.Freeman says they could feel the excitement when the film had its LA premiere."There was a lot of whooping, it was like watching it at a football match or something," Freeman said."It was like people had really been longing for certain things to be said and certain things to be happening on a screen filled with black people 60ft high, frankly, in that way it was quite celebratory."Black Panther has not been out long enough to be judged on box office takings, but has been received well by critics, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% from 96 reviews.
Black Panther stars: We were ‘Tolkien white boys’

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Black Panther director Coogler on his 'newborn' film
Director Ryan Coogler told Sky that he tries not to read too many reviews."Especially in this case because we literally just finished the movie, so imagine you just delivered a baby and somebody tells you it's ugly the day it pops out, you kinda get a parental reaction," he said."So I try to keep a little respectful distance. It's wonderful to hear people like your movie - you breathe a sigh of relief."Especially on a project like this where spoilers (can leak) and everything, so you can't show it to audiences in advance."So we really have been grinding on and trusting our own instincts before we shared it, so I feel fortunate."
Black Panther stars: We were ‘Tolkien white boys’

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The two Brits are the only white actors featured in the cast
Coogler's CV is surprisingly short for someone at the helm of a franchise blockbuster - he only had two features out before Black Panther.However, he says he is not worried about the film putting pressure on him going forward: "I always feel pressure to be honest, I'm naturally nervous."I don't know if neurotic is the right word, but I'm naturally in a permanent stage of freaking out."I really love making movies and I hope I can continue making ones that feel important to me, and feel pertinent to me, and I hope they're good when I'm making them."My worst fear is making a project that I lose interest in, that it doesn't feel like it has something to offer me creatively, to be doing something that's just a job, because I love movies so very much."Black Panther is released in the UK on 12 February.
news.sky.com
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