Actor Jeffrey Wright has an easy way out when it comes to protecting Marvel’s secrets: When the conversation hits potentially dangerous territory, he simply turns to his show’s title. “I guess the question would be ‘What if what were they going to be? ‘”, it returns a question to me.” But you can find out when the show comes out in August. “
Now that Loki has officially marked the beginning of the multiverse, What if…? you dive right in, exploring all the different branching realities and the superheroes within them: Captain Carter, T’Challa Star-Lord, King Killmonger, and Party Thor, among others. Before What ifAt the premiere, Wright sat down with ET to discuss joining the MCU for their first animated series and marking Chadwick Boseman’s final rendition of T’Challa.
ET: You are officially in the MCU. How did this project come your way?
Jeffrey Wright: I received an invitation to take a look at this new series and at this new character they were introducing, The Watcher, which is this mysterious, all-powerful and slightly strange being who observes the Marvel multiverses like a TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat addict … – just taking it all in, just looking at all of this and wondering whether or not you should sign up for an account. I thought there were some interesting possibilities there, and then I went back and started researching the character in the comics as well and realized that you have a whole new landscape of stories that can be told based on these family and beloved stories. and characters we are all familiar with now. It was an invitation hard to ignore, so I got on board.
Have you ever met with Marvel for another project or was it your first time meeting with them?
No, this was the first time they approached me.
This being their first animated series, what did they tell you about how they would approach it? And what excited you about what they were planning?
First, they described the style of animation as intensely cinematic, unsurprisingly, and really tonal and rich. That it would be a small evolution in animation and it would be done within his own style. So that was exciting. And then the idea that we could look at these familiar characters, like T’Challa, Black Panther, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Hulk, the whole series of characters that make up the universe, that we could look at them. In new ways, through a new lens because this character, who is probably the biggest Marvel fan known to man or aliens, has access to all these iterations of his stories that no one else has. New doors will open for the public and fans, and that sounded great.
Was there any concern on his part that if he voiced The Watcher, he might one day not be able to tackle a live-action role in the MCU? Personally, I would like to see him put his superhero in person.
Well, you never know. The Watcher is everywhere, so you never know.
Because it’s lively, no What if does it feel like it’s your own thing? Or like the other MCU projects, which is connected with these other movies and these other series?
What if it’s animation, of course, but it’s much linked to the movies we’ve seen from Marvel. It’s based on those movies, because it’s those stories and those characters that are being reinvented or explored in alternative ways. It is completely connected to all the movies that people have seen and loved. Without them, then it would exist on its own, but it’s a lot to delve into those familiar spaces that we know from those movies and just paint them in new and interesting ways.
Will it have ramifications for what comes next? What happens in What if affect the rest of the MCU in the future?
Well, I think the question is, what if that happened? Everything is possible. We’ll have to wait and see.
Fans have been very, very excited about the introduction of the multiverse. What does it mean to be a part of bringing that into the MCU?
I love the passion that fans have for these characters and for Marvel. It is so incredibly intense. And there is a responsibility in that, I think. We’re in these strange times now, uncertain times where you’re not sure what or who you can trust, but what we do know is that we can trust these characters. We can trust these heroes and heroines. So, become the keeper of your stories and introduce another potential hero, or is he a villain? We don’t know, in that world of storytelling, that’s what it’s all about. And ideally put it in a way that fans can look at with enthusiasm and be satisfied that their trust has been honored.
How different would you say your Watcher voice is from your own voice?
I try not to be, like, the most dramatic being ever imagined, as The Watcher is described. [Laughs] I try to tone it down a bit. The first time we see it, it’s on the moon and I don’t know how many feet high, so it has to project in a way that maybe I don’t necessarily have to project, since I’m 5’10 “so people can. Hearing myself in the room. I don’t have to project from the moon to be heard. It’s a bit different, but there’s also some overlap.
How did you react the first time you saw your voice paired with this animation?
The process took a while. We started working on these a couple of years ago, we started looking at some of the visuals that would be used in the show, we started toying with ideas of what The Watcher would look like and thinking about what it would sound like until we got to a place that we all think about. which was cool, and then you leave it in the recording studio. But it took many months after I saw all the layers come together and then you realize that, yeah, we did pretty well. It’s a fairly new twist for Marvel, and I just hope my voice matches the richness and dynamic cinema that animation brings, because it’s really beautiful and exciting. It’s more of the same for Marvel fans, but new and a little different.
It’s a fan delight that Marvel is bringing back most of the original actors to voice their roles here. Have you had a chance to connect with any of your fellow MCUs to do this?
I have no relative to this. The last time I saw all those people together was in the Endgame premiere. I have been in contact with one or two since then. do Westworld with Chris Hemsworth’s brother Luke, so I’ve talked to Chris ever since. But everyone has been on their own little island for the past few months. There hasn’t been much socializing and partying for the last year and a half, man. [Laughs] I’ve been at home, on a film set, or in a hotel room somewhere with most of the hotel closed. That has been my life for the last 13 months. Not many cocktails!
We know that Chadwick filmed for an episode, which will be very special. Have you had a chance to see his episode?
Yes, I do. It was special for me to be able to hear him express T’Challa one more time, and being a part of that is quite enjoyable. I think with Black PantherThere is a mysticism about that movie and about that story that captured all of our attention, and now there is a greater mysticism about Chadwick’s life that overlaps with the heroism of that character that he played in a really very special way. We captured a bit of that in his episode of What ifso I look forward to sharing it with his fans and Marvel fans.
Do you have an episode that you are especially excited for people to see?
Well, I haven’t seen it all yet. I’m excited for you to watch that episode with Chadwick. And personally, I was blown away by the Doctor Strange episode, which struck me as very central to me. In addition, The Watcher also has a very peculiar interest in that story. He and I have a common perspective on certain things. It has all the magic and all the colors and the emotion, but there is a moral thread and lessons to be learned within that I found really fascinating and relevant.
So The Watcher has a particular interest in Doctor Strange, but he also says that he can’t, he won’t get involved. But will that always be the case? Are we going to see him start pulling some strings before the season ends?
Are you going to make The Watcher a liar from the start? [Laughs] He is doing his best! I understand that. He’s looking at humans and he’s looking at these non-human characters, he’s watching everything they do and he’s making the decision, “I’d rather just lay back and stay out of all that mess.” I understand that, but at the same time, there are forces that push us inward. Then we’ll see. We’ll see.
What if … from Marvel? will air on Disney + on Wednesday, August 11.