Shameik Moore Says 'Across the Spider-Verse' Was Completed Just Days Before Its Release

The actor talks to Complex about the impact of 'Spider-Verse,' manifesting the role of Miles Morales, how the sequel is better than the first, and more.

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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an all-around hit. And the best part? Its star Shameik Moore knew it would be all along.

Moore, who voices Miles Morales in the animated Spider-Verse films, stopped by the Complex offices in New York City just days before the movie hit theaters. Since its June 2 premiere, Across the Spider-Verse has already had a remarkable performance at the box office and has quickly climbed up the rankings to become movie fans’ favorite new release of 2023. Some have already said that it's their favorite Spider-Man movie of all time. 

The sequel had a lot to live up to after Into the Spider-Verse broke new ground for superhero and animated films when it dropped in 2018. Moore was entrusted with the responsibility of voicing the first Black Spider-Man and bringing to life a character that has gained the approval and the love of even the most skeptical fan. 

Into the Spider-Verse went on to win the Oscar in 2019 for Best Animated Feature Film, and thanks to its elevated storytelling, brilliant animation, and outstanding voice acting from a stellar cast, it paved the way for the sequel to be even better than the first. While Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland became household names thanks to their takes on Spider-Man, Moore as a voice actor has preserved some anonymity while still bringing something new to the Spider-Man world. 

Voice acting also comes with its own challenges and he says it took him four years to do the work to complete the sequel. He also tells Complex that Across the Spider-Verse was such an undertaking that it wasn’t finished until just days before the movie hit theaters.

At 28, Moore exudes youthful wisdom, thoughtfulness, and a refreshing energy that makes it noticeable that he is aware of how impactful this role is not only for his career but also for fans of the superhero who look like him. “I don't know what it's like to be one of the live-action Spider-Men, but I do know when I walk out into the world, people got their eyes on me,” Moore tells Complex. “You don't understand how big this is. You're the Black Spider-Man. It's an entirely different energy I feel that I experience in my day-to-day.” 

Check out our full conversation with Moore, where he talks about the Spider-Verse films’ impact, how he manifested the role of Miles Morales, how the sequel builds off the first one’s greatness, and more. 

Additional reporting by Jacob Kramer.

First off, congratulations on the film. How does it feel to be part of such a groundbreaking animated franchise? And did you know the first movie would be Oscar-winning when you signed onto the project?
It's a true honor. It's just an honor to be involved with anything as groundbreaking as Spider-Verse. I didn't really set any expectations for performance, whether people were going to see the movie or not, or if it was going to win awards. I like to create and express myself to connect with people and do something for the collective consciousness. So I was working with guys like Chris [Miller] and Phil [Lord], who are just brilliant minds, I took it more like a learning opportunity. 

And of course, I wanted to play Miles Morales. I wrote it in my journal. So from it being successful, I didn't necessarily expect it, but it is one of my affirmations. I say it exceeded all expectations, especially my own.

What's been your favorite moment of working as the voice of Miles Morales in the Spider-Verse franchise so far?
One of my favorite moments working on the project so far as Miles Morales, honestly, it's meeting people that watch the movie and love the movie. That's the best part. That's the reward of all of it. My nephews finally have something that they can watch with me in it, or part of it. Talking to people in France or Anguilla, Mexico, Japan, China, Canada, everybody's seen this movie. This is the only project I think has had that much reach to this date. And it just opens up the door for me to do more projects that are universal like this.

This character has also been so impactful for Black children, specifically Afro-Latino kids. Now that you've been in this universe and you're about to start this new journey, how does it feel to be able to represent them?
It's an honor. I mean, I walk the path of a young Black brother, and I've always admired the Hispanic culture in its entirety. The flair that the women give off is just irreplaceable. Let's be clear. The style, it's just that energy I can appreciate. We can see each other, you know what I'm saying? We have similar walks, we have similar fights, and we've made similar progress. I've always just admired culture. And it's not just us. I admire culture that has an impact. So playing an Afro-Latino has been an honor. 

I don't know what it's like to be one of the live-action Spider-Men, but I do know when I walk out into the world, people got their eyes on me. You don't understand how big this is. You're the Black Spider-Man. You know what I'm saying? It's that. It's an entirely different energy I feel that I experience in my day-to-day. It feels like, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I've taken the themes of these movies, and I've started to apply them in my own life. I've been analyzing my own spirit, finding knowledge itself, and making sure I'm purposeful and intentional about how I move and wear my mask in real life as an actor and entertainer. And just make sure the impact I make is just purposeful.

How do you think the Spider-Verse legacy contributes to the larger Spider-Man mythology?
I think Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was made for Spider-Man fans. Very intentional writing, brilliant direction, and brilliant animation. It's for Spider-Man fans from way back in the day, early animations. They wrote this movie for them, truly. 

The animation is incredible, the leap they took from the first one to the second one. How does that animation style and the technology evolution enhance the storytelling in the new movie?
Oh, man, what they did in this movie was take the ingredients that worked on the first one and elevated it. So the first one had great messaging and a great story. So it was about taking that leap of faith, which is basically believing in yourself and embracing your uniqueness, your fingerprint that makes you you, and then it was about inclusivity, bringing attention to the fact that anyone can wear the mask. Humanity, not just culture and races and etc. It's like the world, especially in New York, we step outside, there's people of all cultures, and we all make New York what it is. We all make the planet what it is.

I love the messaging that anyone can wear their mask in the first film. So they take that and apply it to the second film, and it now becomes about writing your own story and bringing attention to how you wear the mask, the decision making, the knowing right from wrong or following your gut. That's what this movie's about. The animation was beautiful before, but the animation now is they really took, if sky was the limit on the first film, we're standing on it. We're using it as a support system. Just like this stool right here. I'm able to sit on the stool and speak. That's how they did the second movie. We're standing on the first one, and they just exploded. You can just imagine writers and directors just thinking, how insane can we make this thing? And they did that.

Do you have a favorite superhero movie aside from the Spider-Man movies? And if you had to bring one comic book story to life in animation, which one would you pick and why?
I'm not going to lie to you, I didn't do a lot of reading comics. My older cousin collected comic books. It's one of the first ways that I even saw Spider-Man, but I played Spider-Man on the Game Boys. It's probably between that first Tobey Maguire film—honestly, I think about superhero movies and I think about The Matrix, Wanted, and 007 and Jason Bourne more so than the actual superhero movies. I loved Ghost Rider, that's in the [Marvel] Universe, right? I think Ghost Rider would be interesting, it would be cool.

What's something about the process of animation and voice acting that you want fans to know that they might not know?
I've been recording this movie for four years. I do six-hour, seven-hour sessions, probably three times a month. And this movie was completed three days ago, and it's coming out on what? This upcoming week. That's probably surprising to you guys. 

The Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack was awesome. Do you have a favorite song from that and what can you tell us about the new soundtrack?
We can give my boy Swae some love here. Him and Post Malone definitely killed that. I really, really loved hearing Biggie pop up on the soundtrack. I was like, yeah, that's Brooklyn. We like that energy right there. He was going to see his Uncle Aaron. So I think the Biggie moment was my favorite moment in the soundtrack, but I think my favorite original song was definitely “Sunflower.” And my nephews love, “What's Up Danger.” I thought that was interesting. I like “Sunflower,” but I appreciated Biggie. And as far as the new soundtrack, Metro, shoutout Metro Boomin, man. Yeah, I don't even know the names of any of the songs. I saw the movie once in its entirety.

So it's definitely a movie you got to go back and see multiple times too, you'll see. The first time it's like, “Whoa, wow, that was a meal.” The second time. It's likely to be like you're really looking for the Easter eggs and digesting. I know one thing with the soundtrack, it's like even when it opens up in Gwen's world, there's like this cadence, it feels modern. It feels right now, it feels tapped in with culture. It feels like we're listening to what Miles listens to or what Gwen is probably really listening to in New York. So I love that.

What would you say is Miles’ theme song? If you could choose one for him, what do you think is his theme song?
My version of Miles is probably something with Biggie. You know what I'm saying? It could be the song I was just saying. Yeah, it's probably definitely a Biggie song or a Wu-Tang song.

What do you think is the greatest sneaker of all time?
The greatest sneaker of all time? That's tough because I just like cool sneakers when I get them. I've never really been a heavy sneakerhead. I know this is Complex, but I do love Jordans. I love the Jordan ones. Those are the Jordans that I have. I have variations of those Jordans. I love the 4s. I have variations of the 4s. 

Growing up, I always loved 13s, specifically the blue ones. The blue and white ones, I always wanted them at first. And then I got them, and I don't even wear them. They're in the house just unworn, untouched. And I used to have a thing for 11s, but as I grew up, it's been 1s and 4s for me. I would probably say for their impact and whatnot, Jordans are probably the greatest sneakers ever made.

Which Jordan 1 model, between the first movie and the second movie, do you prefer? Do you have a favorite?
I prefer the OG, the first movie's Jordans personally. But my boy likes the new ones. I have a couple of friends, even my little brother wants a pair of them, so I'm going to get it for them, but I'll probably stick to my OGs.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now in theaters.

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