Winston Duke experienced a career-defining moment last year with his breakout performance as M’Baku in Black Panther. However, that same role nearly prevented him from joining the cast of the Jordan Peele-directed film Us.
Peele recalls his initial apprehension over casting Duke as the father of the Wilson family since it was a stark difference from the physicality that he put on display in playing the role of M’Baku. “It would take away from our ability to feel afraid [for the family] if they have M'Baku on their side. [On the other hand] Winston had this charisma that just stole scenes and really left an impression,” he said, per Cinema Blend.
Duke admits that Peele’s assumption about who he was based on his portrayal of M’Baku was a recurring theme as he sought out future acting roles. Instead, the 32-year-old actor hopes to use his opportunities down the road to “convey the full spectrum of masculinity” on the big screen.
“I was in conversation for a lot of [roles in which] the character was a fighter, a big guy — he's aggressive, a warrior,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I loved playing M'Baku, but that's not who I am. I want to convey the full spectrum of masculinity. I want people to say that this guy helped change the definition of masculinity onscreen 40 years from now. I’m trying to be that person.”
Us hits theaters on March 22.