Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II speaks on balancing character-driven movies with “clown work”

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has wrapped filming for the upcoming DC sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. In it, Abdul-Mateen will be reprising his role as Black Manta. Also, earlier this summer, Abdul-Mateen could be seen in the Michael Bay action movie, Ambulance alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Eiza Gonzalez. IndieWire recently reported on an interview with Yahya where he addresses how he stays balanced by doing both Hollywood blockbuster spectacles and smaller, character-driven vehicles.

Abdul-Mateen explains, 

Everything should be about getting to the truth. But sometimes you got to know which movie or genre you’re in. Something like ‘Aquaman,’ that’s clown work. ‘Aquaman‘ is not ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7.’ You have got to get over yourself. In order to survive and to do it well, you have to play that game and then be crafty about when you want to surprise the audience, the director, or yourself with a little bit of ‘Wow, I didn’t expect to see a Chekhovian thing or August Wilson and Aquaman, but I did.'”

The actor gained acclaim for his performances in projects such as Black Mirror and as Cal Abar in HBO’s Watchmen. He would go on to work with directors like Aaron Sorkin in The Trial of the Chicago 7. Yahya would then film back-to-back big studio movies with The Matrix Resurrections and Ambulance.

Abdul-Mateen would cite his reasoning for working with Bay as “[Director Bay] said it’s not about action; it’s about tension. And I knew that he would dress the world outside of the ambulance, but I was really interested in what was going on inside of the ambulance, and that’s where we see a lot of the tension play out.”

When Bay was reluctant to hire Abdul-Mateen, he checked out a few of the actor’s films and made his decision. Bay explains, “That guy is going to be a movie star. I want to work with him.”

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is scheduled for release on December 25, 2023.

Source: IndieWire

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.