Excited for Black Panther? So are we. Which is why we’re rolling out obsessive coverage with Black Panther Week.
Black Panther has movie audiences all but salivating with anticipation to see a beloved superhero and a formidable cast of color. The film’s roster has been growing for years, adding vets like Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker as well as future powerhouses like Letitia Wright and Winston Duke.Â
There’s a whole lot of people in this whole lotta movie, and we don’t want anyone to waste that precious theater time wondering, “What else have I seen her in?” For that, here’s a handy who’s who of the Black Panther cast â all of whom, if they weren’t already, are stars.
Before Black Panther â or rather, before debuting the character in Captain America: Civil War â Boseman became something of a go-to historical actor, portraying Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up. His career started with television and theatre, including directing an off-Broadway play and on the series Lincoln Heights. In 2017, he played Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the movie Marshall, featuring fellow Wakandan Sterling K. Brown.
Michael B. Jordan
One of the film’s major characters is one of its most experienced emerging stars: Jordan is a mainstay of Ryan Coogler’s filmography, having starred in both of the director’s previous outings, Creed and Fruitvale Station. This isn’t his first Marvel movie after an ill-fated Fantastic Four outing, or even his first superhero movie if you count the visceral Chronicle in 2012. He also starred in That Awkward Moment, an ensemble rom-com in which he and Zac Efron are bros who walk through SoHo discussing their love lives while sipping overpriced coffee!
Many still know Jordan as Wallace from The Wire, or as Vince Howard from Friday Night Lights for a game-changing fourth season through to the end of the show. He also appeared in show runner Jason Katims’ next series, Parenthood, as Haddie’s sexiest and most socially aware boyfriend.
Nyong’o got her big break in 2013 with 12 Years A Slave, which earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Before making a CGI debut as Maz Kanata in the new Star Wars trilogy, she had a brief stint on Broadway in 2015’s Eclipsed and appeared in the action film Nonstop.
Wright has been acting on TV since 2011 (including a spot on Doctor Who), but her breakout role was arguably the 2015 film Urban Hymn. Recently, she had a satisfying role in the most recent season of Black Mirror as Nish in “Black Museum.” What starts as a mild-mannered girl on a road trip turns into a fierce revenge trip with a cathartic climax. You can catch her in Ready Player One on March 29 or just go see Black Panther again.
Gurira has been on a handful of TV shows, from Law and Order to Robot Chicken, but her biggest role before Black Panther was undoubtedly as Michonne on The Walking Dead (who is still alive! An achievement!).
Sterling K. Brown
If you’re not weeping over Brown’s masterful acting every week on This Is Us, we don’t know what to tell you. The actor earned an Emmy for playing Randall Pearson on the widely-adored network drama, as well as one for his performance as Christopher Darden in American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson. He had a significant role on Person of Interest and spent six years on Army Wives. His first major TV role was in the early 2000s on Third Watch, but his filmography reveals guest appearances on dozens of other shows.
She plays a literal queen in Black Panther and not without reason. Bassett won an Academy Award in 1993 for playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It, a year after starring in Malcolm X and two years before Strange Days and Panther (which is not a Black Panther prequel). She’s built quite a resume playing iconic black women; Rosa Parks (The Rosa Parks Story), Katherine Jackson (The Jacksons: An American Dream), Coretta Scott King (Betty & Coretta), and Biggie Smalls’ mother Voletta Wallace (Notorious). 1998 brought the indelible How Stella Got Her Groove Back, followed by Akeelah and the Bee and Meet the Browns. Her entry into the superhero genre was actually 2011’s Green Lantern, so we’re surprised and grateful that she returned. Bassett is now a mainstay of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story series and will also appear in Infinity War.
Where to even begin with Whitaker? Arrival, the Roots reboot, Southpaw, Lee Daniels’ The Butler? Whitaker had recurring TV roles on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, The Shield, and E.R., and literally dozens of other roles in the 20 years before winning multiple accolades for The Last King of Scotland, including an Academy Award. Recently, he played Saw Gerrera in Rogue One, making him one of two MCU/Star Wars crossover commodities in Black Panther.Â
If you don’t know Daniel Kaluuya, you can just Get Out. The British actor comes from a comedy and theatre background; he co-wrote and starred in Skins and won Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer for a production of Sucker Punch. Kaluuya appeared in Season 1 of Black Mirror as the protagonist of “15 Million Merits” opposite Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay, and appeared in films including Johnny English Reborn, Kick-Ass 2, and Sicario. He is currently nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Get Out.
Black Panther is Duke’s highly blessed big break after TV roles including Person of Interest and Modern Family. He’ll be back in May for Infinity War, and frankly, we’re counting down the days.Â
Freeman has done well for himself since (and including) those carefree days on the U.K. Office. Since then he had Love Actually, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, four seasons of Sherlock, two Edgar Wright films (Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead), one season of Fargo, and three Hobbit movies before reuniting with Smeagol on-screen for Black Panther.
We know Serkis well enough by now to know that we rarely get to see his face as we do in Black Panther. The actor who helped define modern methods of motion capture has been in King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin, Planet of the Apes, and as Snoke in Star Wars, all with some degree of CGI. His character, Ulysses Klaue, first appeared in 2015’s Age of Ultron.
Black Panther is in theaters Friday.