Aquaman set: Amber Heard talks Mera & Yahya Abdul-Mateen talks Black Manta

Amber Heard was cast early on as Mera by Zack Snyder for JUSTICE LEAGUE, but that was just a small part of what would be a much more integral role in AQUAMAN. Stunningly beautiful, strong, talented and poised, Heard fits the model for a warrior queen and makes for an interesting dynamic to Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry. On set, Heard was very warm and friendly and excited to be a part of the film. She sat and talked with us (in the monitor tent) about the role, her co-star, working underwater and on rigs and what it means to bear the torch of Mera for the first time on film. We also talked to Yahya Abdul-Mateen II about his role as Black Manta, which you can find just after our sit down with Heard. Check 'em both out below!

Heard: Are you watching it [the scene] live? I’m so sorry. Especially because you do the same line, over and over. Yeah, it’s definitely where you earn it is — with these big movies, I’m used to, I guess I’m more accustomed to doing the smaller films, lowerbudget films. Not only are you half-crew, half-cast, you know, you’re like moving lights. But you’re also shooting 10 pages of dialogue a day and five scenes. This one must’ve been five days on one scene.

One of the things that’s cool that we learned about the film today is that there’s a lot of different tones, it is romantic comedy, influence from Romancing the Stone, Raiders of the Lost Ark, can you talk about that?

Heard: I actually liked that about this film as well. I was drawn to the script because it was — it didn’t sacrifice one element in order to achieve the other. It’s as much adventure as it is classic superheroes, as it maintains elements of rom-com. I mean, it has all of these elements. And of course done by a horror master. So I really like that our film kind of respects all these different genres. I was drawn to the adventure probably the most. The locations on this alone, I mean, the table read was fun. To just listen to it, it’s a real adventure, and that’s without any visuals, as you can imagine.

Peter told us that this isn’t so much of a love story between Aquaman and Mera, it’s more of a partnership. But with such beautiful actors, how do these characters not fall in love?

Heard: That’s the thing, I know what you mean. He is really hard to look at, you know? We all know that. But you know, the thing I really like about this is I feel it has a more modern approach, I think, to what would otherwise be a more classic superhero formula. This is very much a story where they are equal partners. Because they come from different worlds, their strengths are very different. Where one excels in one world, the other is a fish out of water. Pun intended. [Laughs] I guess I’ll be saying that a whole lot. Just gonna get used to owning it! But it’s true. Mera, when she’s on the surface world, it’s very much an alien world to her. Same way that when Arthur is in Atlantis, he’s completely out of his element. But we both excel at being in our own worlds, and because we have our own identities and because our identities are tied up in who we are in our respective worlds, we share equal responsibility in the journey.

So it’s not like he comes in and saves her…

Heard: Never. And what I really love is that it does not rely on this whole damsel in distress formulaic thing we see all the time, we’ve seen a million times. He doesn’t rescue the girl and then save the world. He doesn’t — in fact, I save him. Like I said, they go on this adventure as equal partners and they end it that way. There is an element of attraction there, but it is not the thing — because they have a job to do, they have a mission to fulfill and are equal partners in the success or failure of that mission, that takes a back seat to this. Their relationship, that element is not the driving force or what brings them together.

Can you talk a little bit about what Mera can and can’t do in this film?

Heard: So I control water. Mera’s power, other than just being a warrior princess in Atlantis, is that she also can control water, a power that comes in quite handy as you will see. Not only in this scene, but it plays throughout the mission, throughout their entire journey. She relies on hydrokinesis to kind of save the world and stuff.

You mentioned the strong identities for Mera and Aquaman, what drives Mera? What is her end goal besides trying to keep everything from getting destroyed?

Heard: Mera is strongly tied to — she has a strong sense of duty and responsibility that’s tied to Atlantis and her role in Atlantis. She deeply cares about her position that she believes she was not just born to do, that she has worked her whole life to be able to do well. It’s not enough just to have inherited this position. Her sense of honor and duty is inartistically tied to her place in leading Atlantis and doing the right thing for her people.

On the heels of Wonder Woman, a badass icon, what would you say makes Mera a badass of her own?

Heard: Mera’s her own woman. She’s her own superhero. She’s not Aquawoman. She’s Mera. Part of what got me, you know when I first talked to Zack [Snyder] on the phone about the prospect of doing this film, he said, ‘She’s a warrior queen.’ Basically, you get a sword and a crown. And I was like, ‘OK, you know how to pitch to your audience.’ Alright, I’m listening now. ‘Cause at first, I don’t want to be a damsel, I’ve played a range of characters, as diverse as I’ve been able to. Being a woman, especially a bit of a young woman in this industry, raising myself in this industry, it’s been limited, but I’ve done the most with what I can, especially considering that. The one thing, the one element they all have in common is that they’re driven or powerful in their own right. I’ve not been interested in playing reactionary women or weak female characters. Mera is the definition of a strong, driven, independent woman. Aside from the whole sword and crown comment, what really sold me on this project, I was doing my research and was reading the graphic novels, and in one of the first ones I read, there’s a scene, some natural disaster in open water, a tsunami hits on the land, and of course Aquaman comes in and saves the day and civilians are like, ‘Oh my god, it’s Aquaman!’ And they turn to Mera, who has done equal work in saving this village, and they’re like, ‘Who are you? Are you Aquawoman?’ And she’s like, ‘No, I’m not Aquawoman. I’m Mera, I have my own name.’ And I was like, I like this. I like this woman. I respect it as a character, I respect it as a person. I also respect it as the average modern woman, who is sick and tired of seeing the same old, two-dimensional, reactionary, passive roles that are limited to being rescued or enchanting the male protagonist. I feel I have a lot more to offer in life and I’m bored with those characters when I watch them.

So building on that, this role for you, that’s a big get. You are a very iconic female character, now involved in Justice League, Aquaman. I’m curious what that means to you and the responsibility, you’re really not just doing one movie, you’re now basically an icon in this series…

Heard: If I do my job well! [Laughs] Like I said, I try to live my life in the most socially responsible way that I can, with my unique place in the world. I try to be true to honoring that extra responsibility.

Can you speak to your experience, I mean, the introduction of this character, there’s gonna be Justice League, working with Zack Snyder, and taking the character from that experience into this movie?

Heard: It’s a very small role in Justice League, Mera is just merely introduced, so I had a very limited role there. And James Wan is very different from Zack Snyder — their way of telling the story, approaching the characters, shooting — so different, you’d be hard pressed to find more different approaches. James is very much doing so much to honor the original integrity of the comic book characters that it’s just a whole other experience working with James.

Can you talk about the underwater scenes when you’re on wires, people moving you around? What’s it like to film these?

Heard: It’s so weird! So weird. [Laughs] I mean, sometimes you have to just step back and look at your life and realize that you are a grown-ass woman attached to two wires being fished around by a bunch of men in bright blue micro onesies. And you just have to accept it and laugh.

Does it actually feel like swimming though?

Heard: No! Not at all. You’re dry, you’re wearing a stocking cap…

That’s a lot of trust there that you’re not gonna look ridiculous.

Heard: Yes! Yes. It’s scary. But you have to find moments of truth in the absurdity. And that’s part of what’s great about working with the actors and working with real pros. Jason and working with Patrick [Wilson], Willem [Dafoe], it’s the small moments of truth that are universal to us as humans that you latch into in these huge, complex, largerthan- life sequences. And you latch on to those small moments of honest, universal
truth, basic things we can latch onto.

You said that Mera is strong and independent, what is it about her that makes her strong? What do you think her greatest strength is?

Heard: She’s a leader. She has integrity. So whereas — her and Arthur are very different, in fact, that’s part of what causes a lot of, you know, they don’t necessarily fit at the beginning. They’re constantly going back and forth and they earn this relationship with one another throughout the film as they learn to respect each other, given their vastly different approaches to life. Mera, for instance, unlike Arthur, has a very solid constitution, a strong sense of self, who she is, what her role is, what her position is. And the sense of duty and honor that she uses to approach all of the situations of her life is one that I respect and really like, and I admire that.

What do you feel like is something you identify with and learned from Mera?

Heard: Mera is very controlled and puts her self behind what she believes is her place. For instance, Mera struggles with doing what she thinks is right despite what she wants to do. And I think I just do what I wanna do. [Laughs] She’s a lot more controlled and restrained than I am.

One of the things I like about James is the ways he places the camera, he does really cool shots. Can you talk about one of the days that you did something really cool, what you were filming?

Heard: James is a master at detail. Camera work is his world. It’s a little, as you can see from how many takes we have to do and how many different, you know — camera’s his world. It’s where he really thrives. Every day I come to work and he’s amazing.

Sometimes he moves the camera like a crazy 360, or a long take, I’m curious with stuff like that. Was there a long take or interesting shot?

Heard: Like I said, he’s gonna be a much better person to ask then me, but we’ve done a lot of these shots, where you’re in the middle of — you know, I did one last week where I’m fighting a bunch of guards and I fight three guards doing a very complex action sequence, choreographed fight. And the cameras are just going around. It was dizzying. Even if I wasn’t doing this action sequence. But like I said, I’m kind of in it and so I’m not behind the cameras watching it.

Curious how much time you’re actually spending in water.

Heard: That’s a great question! Some of my friends tease me, saying like I’m wet in every single movie. They joke and I’m like, yeah, well, it’s called being in your twenties and being an actress. Like, I’ve survived my entire twenties acting, of course, but in this movie I’m perhaps the driest. [Laughs] But you know, all of the underwater stuff I’m dry for. We have wig caps on and they have to actually make diffused mattifier on my skin, and I have to be dry for reasons that I could not explain to you visual-wise. However, for all the scenes where we’re on land or in air bubbles, which is a thing, they have to completely soak me down. So sometimes part of my routine at work is I show up and get hosed down. This happens throughout a day of filming the same scene because it takes so long to shoot these enormously complex scenes. There are many days when I spend my entire day, every 15 minutes, getting hosed down! And it’s still the driest I’ve been in a movie. [Laughs]

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Nike shirt) with a bunch of journo-nerds, myself included on the set of The Temple of the Dead King

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II showed up on set in his workout clothes and was all smiles while talking to us. He was genuinely excited to be a part of this film and equally enthused to be playing such an iconic character in Black Manta. We talked, of course, about the costume and the character, but also his approach to the character and how closely it relates to the comics origin. Check out our back and forth with Yahya below!

I got to say, the coolest thing I've seen today, I think, is that Black Manta costume. It looks so goddamn cool!

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah! Yeah, yeah.

So what's it like wearing it?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: So you saw pictures of it?

Yeah, we did, we saw pictures of it.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool. I'm like, I'm like, what did you see? I'm like...

Neither showed down the shot from your first day for tips.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Okay, cool. I'm like, nope, not going to get it out of me! Man, that thing is just badass, man. It's like, you know, I put it on, and you know, we have our ideas about what the character's going to be, and so I bring all of that stuff to it. But then you put that thing on, and you see yourself in the mirror, and all of a sudden, I'm, you know, 10 feet taller in that thing, and I feel like I could bust through a wall, you know! I talked about wanting to run through walls, and just break shit in my, you know, in my meeting with Peter, when I auditioned for the job. And, I put on that suit, and everything's just coming full circle, so...

That's awesome!

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah, I'm excited! I know the fans are going to be really excited too. I kind of...

Oh, they are! What's some of, like, it's directly just ripped from the comics? It's just...

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah! Which is what they want to see, you know, everyone, they kind of ask about what the themes are, what the ideas are, how are we going to mix it up, because in their minds, it's kind of difficult to pull off in a cool way. You got this guy with this really big helmet, but I think we're doing a really good job of taking care of it, and making sure that he's taken from the comic, but still proportional and still looks really cool, so you know, I hope the other people want to get us out of that.

So, from a character standpoint, what's the difference, what's the similarities between playing Cadillac and playing Manta?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Oh, no, they're two, they're completely different people. I mean, I think, you know, when I think about Cadillac... Oh! You know, when I think about Manta, Manta we'll always describe him as the guy at the party who does not get the jokes, you know? He doesn't have a great sense of humor. He doesn't really have much time for humor and things like that. So, Cadillac is the life of the party. He needs to be loved, he needs to be seen. He needs more, more, more. This guy is, he just has a business side, and he's all about business and revenge, you know what I mean? You know, but they still have that, have what I like to put in all my characters -- Thank you! I appreciate it! -- They still have what I like to put in all my characters, which is a very strong "pleasure principle," which means that, whatever they're doing, they enjoy it, you know? They get that from it. But no, this guy is just much more of a straight, straight line, a straight-lacer. Cadillac is the guy who dances around. He takes more time with his interrogation and things like that. With Manta, he's got a lot of little things to do.

Do you do any sort of accent for Manta? Do you talk, you know, do you have, like, just a regular American accent, or any other way of speaking?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Well, I didn't place him in a particular... in other words, I didn't... Yeah, yeah, I didn't place him in a particular region. But I think you would notice some different things about my own character in, like, my vocal carriage and things like that, that would be different from what I would sound like in an interview, or what I would sound like on some of the other things that I've done, things like that, and that's been fun. That's been a challenge too, because, like, [inaudible] "Oh, okay, how do I want this guy to sound?" you know, where do I want him to lie on the age spectrum, how cool is he, how in-touch is he with himself, and what does he care about, all that informs how he sounds to me, and that's all. I'm excited about it.

Are you wearing the scars as well?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: No, it didn't come with all that.

We've heard a lot about how the events on the submarine and all the stuff that take place there shapes the relationship between Manta and Aquaman, so if you could share your perspective on, like, that scene, and have a sense of that relationship?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah, well, you know, we meet Black Manta at a time where, you know, it's just him and his dad, and he's riding on high, you know. He's just come off of his wind, and there's a changing of the guards, so to speak. And then, this guy, Aquaman, comes in, and crashes the party. So, for Black Manta, it's not necessarily bad to be given an opportunity to obey, "I just got this promotion, let me go prove myself, and step myself up and, you know, step it up once more." So, in that confrontation, you know, I'd like to think that Black Manta's very excited about, "Okay, what it's going to be like? This is that guy from around the way, who I've been hearing all these things about. And he's supposed to be a badass, and now is my time to go show him who the real badass is around these parts." And he's riding on high, and at the climax, he loses his father. And so, we meet him at a time when he's just, he's on top and then, bam, immediately, an event happens, and he's at the bottom. And he's lost the only person who he's ever loved, and cared for, and been able to show any type of, you know, expression, or those types of characteristics to. And then, from then on, you know, "It's Aquaman's fault!" He has very little else to live for, and so it becomes that revenge story. You have the relationship between fathers and sons, and the revenge that happens when a son loses his father, and then you have Aquaman, who is the heir to the throne, who doesn't want to be king, so it's an epic story.

Okay. The moment that I sat back and said, "Oh, this is the guy that I'm dealing with," was when I saw his clothes. And I saw, you know, that he would wear this white suit, and he had the rings, and the chains, and all the animal print, and I said, "Oh! Oh, this is the guy!" And so, you know, he's got the audacity to do that. With Black Manta, I saw him, I was reading the comic, "The Others," and he drove a blade through someone, through -- I forget her name -- through one of the characters. But he murdered someone, you know. And in my experience, in comics, they're blowing people up to smithereens, or they'll use their powers and they'll shoot you off to the moon and you'll explode. And he was like, "You know, I don't have time for that. I'm going to take my knife, and I would drive it through you, while telling you that the next thing that I'm going to do is to go murder your family also." So, I said, "Oh, this guy is... he's not like the other children." So, you know, and then, so I take that, and then now the task becomes, "Well, how do I do that?" How do I, like, what was the thing that scared me about that moment? What was the thing that was so intriguing about that moment? And how do I pass that on to different moments in the script that it would be good at? That's been my task, and then I try to do that in a way that's charismatic, in a way that, you know, where the audiences want to see a little bit more. And then the other challenge is, how do I make them root for me? Because, I have to say, "This is the guy." I have to say that, "I am how I am, because Aquaman did not help me. Don't you all see this?" Like, "Isn't Aquaman such a bad guy?" You know? "Poor me, I have to go through my life now without a father, and now with this grudge that Aquaman gave me. He put me in a situation. Let's go get him! Don't I deserve a little bit of vengeance? Shouldn't I feel good about something? Wah!"

Speaking of the blade, I mean, we got to go to the weapons department, we got to see kind of what he's working with within that suit, and what's the training been like for the action?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah, so we came in, and I went through a pretty challenging, but exciting weightlifting program, and started doing that. I put on about 12 pounds, which was pretty exciting, I've never been as heavy as I kind of am right now. I've jogged a little bit, but I've never gotten up to that size, which has been exciting. Also, the fighting. We're working with JV and his team, and those guys are just amazing, 87Eleven. And, so we came in, and they taught me a lot of the sword stuff, and how to do some rolls, and fight choreography. And Jason is off the hook with that. He's learning most of the stuff that you'll see in this movie. He's learning it on the day. I thought I was pretty good, but I watched him, and I'm like, "Oh, yeah. You have a whole career of just kicking people's ass!" you know what I mean? And then being me in a daze like that. But it's fun, it's rigorous, but they're so talented. I mean, I see them, those guys working, and they're so, so talented. And I know they're really going to help me and everybody else to look good in the film. And I know when the time comes, I have no problem shouting them out and giving them the credit, because they really deserve it.

Do you ever get intimidated by Jason? Just, like, "That's a big dude!"

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: No! No, no, Jason is a teddy bear! He's a solid dude, and he loves his kids. What I didn't know was that he was a passionate artist. He talks about painting and music, and things like that, and I'm like, "Oh, you?" I was really excited, but you know, we created something here that's like a brotherhood, and we talk about the movies. He's so passionate about the story, and about what he wants to do next, and where to take it in. We bounce off our ideas, and feel something good, and then run around the room like, "Oh yeah! We got to do that! We got to take it through the roof, bro!" But we're excited, you know? We know that we're making something special, and we know that it's going to take a team to do it.

So what sets Manta apart from antagonists, other villains?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Well, I'd like to describe him, to me, he can be so annoying, I think, because he's so vigilant. He's so -- what's the word I'm looking for, where you just won't stop? -- persistent! Persistent, incessant...


Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Relentless! There we go. That's the word I'm looking for. He's so relentless. And so, in a fight, he's never down, and he's never out. And you think that he's done, but he comes back. And it's like, "Hey, I finished you! I proved my point! I'm stronger than you. Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Why are you still here?" You know? If you think about him, I mean, he doesn't want to take over the world, he doesn't have this grand scheme of, like, monopolizing something for his own personal benefit, he's very much on the line. And so, he has this very strong moral code that he will not compromise, and that he will not negotiate on, and when it's tied to something like his father being dead, you know, his father dying, he's just a guy who will stop at nothing to get the revenge that he wants.

Would you say that's, like, his greatest weakness?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Well, no, I wouldn't go as far to say that is his greatest weakness, but it definitely blinds sometimes, which I think every character needs that. Every character needs to, well, I think the fun ones, you know. It's a fun opportunity to obsess over something so much, that you can't see some of the other stuff, you know. And so, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to finding those opportunities to make him vulnerable at the same time, to let people in and, you know, show some cracks, so that, you let those people in and get them on your team, and then you got two people, "Aaahhh!"

What else is likeable about him, would you say, besides the audience kind of feeling bad for him? If there's anything?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: What's likeable? Sure! I mean, I think that everybody likes the bad guy. I think they have, or the quote-unquote "bad" guy. I never call my bad guy "bad guy," that's up to everybody else, right? But, I think they have fun. I think he's hilarious, you know?

You do? Why?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: I think... I don't think that he himself believes that he's funny, but he... I've also, like, read through the Suicide Squad. And so, he was hilarious to me in that, because he's breaking up fights between Harley Quinn and Deadshot, and he has this... he's always angry, you know what I mean? It makes it very easy to crack jokes on him or to make, like, you know, he's the guy I hate. "Lighten up! It's not that serious," you know? Like, "You're just a little bit high-strung," you know what I mean?

That's funny!

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: And so, I think it's fun, I think he's the guy who can be in pretty fun predicaments, you know? You take a guy like that, and you put him at a bar with the rest of the guys, and he just wants to be, he wants to be out of there. He wants to be killing someone, or he wants to be doing something, anything other than socializing right now. But he has to be at this bar, because he's babysitting two people who are going to tear themselves up. He's also not extremely loyal either, you know. He will look out for himself and take any opportunity to further his own agenda, and I think that's hilarious also, you know. He's looking out for himself in this. So I think those are all funny qualities and characteristics that can prove for situational humor in days like that also.

Seems like there's a lot of different tones to the movie, with like romance, comedy, action, there are a whole bunch of it, and I was wondering, since James has done so many different types of things, and even horror seems to be working into this. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, like, what his direction has been like with those different types of scenes that you may have been involved with, the different types of tones.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah, well, for the things that I've been involved in, most of it has really been, it's been a mixture of action, and then drama, you know. the things that I've shot already was the submarine scene, the submarine sequence. So we have to tell the relationship between a father and a son, and those high moments and those low moments that I was talking about. The emotionality of a loss, the adrenaline rush of just coming off a really big win, you know. So, he's able to use his storytelling to make those moments ring true, and then in the next moment now, it's about hitting those archetypes, about making sure that the shapes are sharp, and making sure that these storytelling beats are on point, and that it looks good, you know. That's just one of the things about James is that his work is going to look good, like, no matter what. And that's why I love working on this nugget. I could just be free, and do what I'm going to do, and trust James, because I know, at the end of the day, if doing my job, James is going to make it look good. He can do action, he's very funny. He's like a big kid also, so he's exciting, and he works at a really high level of... he's an excellent storyteller, so it's safe.

Does it help doing the submarine sequence, like, early in the shoot, so you could kind of build on that emotionally, for direction?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: A little bit, I mean, actually, just yesterday, I think this is natural with any actor, is just yesterday, I was like, "Oh, that's how that line went." But you know, that's all that we, we'll have what we have. I'll save that for part two, you know?

How completely do you think this tells character story versus, like, leaving the door open for future storylines?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Oh, no, I think my involvement in this film will definitely be one where we get an introduction to him, and it's not an extremely heavy dose, but it is one that's going to crack the door open and say, "Oh, well there's a lot of different ways, a lot of different areas for him to go." I mean, he's definitely not a guy who's just here for a short time, and just going to disappear. I think we try to talk about him as a guy who has the potential to be a pretty big force within the world.

One of the things that... James is really good with moving camera, and doing really cool shots. So, in sequencing the film, has he done anything really cool with the camera?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: I got a pretty dope introduction. Yeah. I got a pretty dope introduction, which is actually... my introduction might have been the first shot that we shot on the film. And it's pretty dope!

Are you talking about, like, a 360 camera kind of spin?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: It's pretty dope! There is one that's really cool, like, that's maybe, like, 18-second 360 shot, that's just, like, bodies dropping and everything, and that one is, like, that's a pretty dope one. [inaudible]

What's it like filming underwater?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: You know, I haven't gotten to participate in that just yet, so, I imagine that it's really cool, but I've been inside of the sub, so I need to stop by the set one of those days. But I've seen the... have you all seen the mini trailer that they showed at Comic Con? And how about that underwater world, right? I saw that, I think, just yesterday. And I'm like, "Oh, my god!" And it was, there's not even nothing! It's just 5 seconds, or less than 10 seconds of the scale of that world, so I'm excited. I'm just excited to see it, and to go by when it's my terms, I'm going in there and let loose with all that blue screen, and all my blue screen training, and men in tight blue suits carrying me and all that!

Can you pop up in other DC films?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Well, yeah, I mean, this character, he's all over the canon. He's in Suicide Squad, we see him in the cartoons, we see him in Young Justice, we see him in... yeah, I mean, he's all over the place, in way that he can get to his means to an end. Right, if you see Aquaman in Justice League, then you know, it'll make sense for Black Manta to say, "Hey! What you doing?" Pop his head in, wherever he is, he can justify making it his business. I'm looking forward to living long within the DC world, and create a little bit of chaos.

Have you done any scenes with Patrick Wilson yet, as Orm?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: No, I haven't, man! I haven't. No, not yet. But, no, I haven't. But that dude is good, man! First day I worked, or the first day that he worked -- I wasn't working that day, but I came by just to check him out -- Man, I saw him work, I walked in, and I see him up there in all his glory, I dropped to my knees, I put my hands up. He was shooting, so I had to cover my mouth, and I'm like, "Ohh!" That's what it was like! Like, "How am I here? How am I doing this movie?" Because it looks so good, and then you see him, and he's intense, and, it's like, "Oh! That's the movie that we're making!" Okay, I'm really going to go back and do my homework! You know what I mean? It's like, "Oh! Oh, that's the game that we're playing. I didn't know that, okay. I'm so sorry! Give me 10 minutes..."

For adjustment, right, yeah, yeah.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: So that's the party that we're going to! I'm sorry! I'll go change my clothes! Now, I'm ready. You know what I'm saying? It was like watching [inaudible] like that. Because it's like, "Ah, I see. There we go, there we go. Step it up!" But no, yeah, we have some stuff together that's going to be pretty important moments in the film.

So, also to get you up to speed, we already talked about Jason being shirtless in this movie. So, you being in this, like, badass costume, is that freeing for you? Like, not having to do that whole shirtless bit?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: No, that's not so, because I was like, "Yeah! I don't really got to work out that hard to do all that stuff!" So I'm working hard for the training, because the suit is tough to carry. The suit is tough. There was the first suit, that was tough to carry. And then the second suit is, like, a beast to carry, to do all that stuff in. So, we're working hard at things, and then we do the screen test, and it's like, "Hey, I want you to just try this!" and I'm all, "Okay!" "We got this jumper, I want you to zip it down." I'm like, "Okay, here we go." I kind of see James's head pop up from behind the monitor, "Hey! Yeah, why don't you just take it down, and just tie it around your waist, and see what others think." "Okay, I'll just do that."

That's why!

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: I mean, yeah? Maybe throw a couple of punches and things! Okay, cool, let's just turn around, do something...

Yeah! Exactly, that's what I thought of it that way.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: So, yeah, I think we worked a situation into there, where I'm going to do my thing too. Hopefully, I mean, I better, because I'm working out, I'm doing all this stuff, and then you hide it from, like, from head to toe, or neck to... I'm like, "C'mon, man!"

What's it like seeing out of that helmet?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Oh, you can't see. You can't see! You just can't see. You got, like, 20% vision or something like that, you know. If you look out of the top, and it's just so well-made, it's so well-made, but it's not. It's made to look good, it's made to function for me, up to a certain degree, but other than that, the helmet just looks badass. It looks just right. But if you do like this, then you're looking up too high; if you look down there, it looks like he's sad. He's got this badass body, but his head is down, because I'm trying to see, and it's like, "Manta looks sad all the time!"

What does your voice sound like when you talk through the suit?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: We haven't figured that out yet. I mean, I do some things with it, but we're still working out what that's going to be. Which is funny, because I posted something on my Twitter, I'm not sure if anyone's seen, but my Instagram and my Twitter, I kind of tease all the fans, and said that I was leaking the suit, well, yesterday. So, like, all the fans were, "Oh, okay! He's going to do it, he's going to do it, he's going to do it!" and I just, I troll them so hard. I put up something else. I mean, check it out on my Instagram or my Twitter. But that's kind of going crazy right now. And one of the things I did was I made a video, and I put on, like, a modulator or something like that. So, a lot of people were saying, "Oh! Black Manta actor releases the voice!" And I'm like, "No, I just went and found it, and I pressed that one. And it's on 'Darth Vader' or something." But yeah, we're still figuring that out.

So, if you were, like, at a bar with Black Manta, and you all would sit down, having drinks, what piece of advice would you give him?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: I wouldn't sit next to that motherfucker! I would not... You don't give that man no advice, he's not going to take it! Thank you so much! I try to give you something back for that as an answer, but I'm like, "No, no, I'm not going to sit next to him!" It's just crazy, because I'm a fan of him. It's interesting being a fan, but the way that I experience him as a reader, and the way that I experience him when I watch him on comics and things like that, is not at all how I'm playing this guy. So, it's very interesting being a fan of him, and also feeling like I know some things, but then learning completely different things about him as I bring him to life.

So, what is that like, I mean, to kind of have that kind of disconnect between, you know, your knowledge of the character from being a fan, to be the same character, but in almost a completely different way?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Well, one is about... My performance, I believe, is about my duty to the script, and my duty to the story that we're trying to tell, and I try to do that in a way that is true, in a way that's going to hold up the script, and that's going to be fun for the viewers to watch, alright? And in the way that I read comics, I get to feel like a kid, and I get to laugh at these guys, and poke fun at things, and I get to judge them in things like that, so I get to experience him however I decide to. And so, I think, as a reader, and as I watch him, that's more of a fantastical world, and things like that, and there's more fun. And then, the negotiation is to say, "Okay, now let's select some of those things, and make sure that I put those there." But it is kind of even fascinating to me. I don't do it on purpose, it's just that one brings out a kid in me, and one brings out a very different, very different thing. It's fun playing with that negotiation.

Have you been able to talk to Geoff Johns about the character much?

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: Yeah, I have. We sat down a couple of weeks ago, when I was in Los Angeles. He's a big fan of the character. Yeah, he's a big fan of the character, he loves him, and he's seen some stuff, and he's liked what he's seen thus far, and so, yeah, he's really... I mean, I was really excited to get across the table from him, and talk about the character, and just pick his brain about some of his ideas, and say, "Oh, okay, okay. I kind of see what you're doing. This is where I think I'll also start." We actually sat down, and we were pretty much in line with a lot of the ideas.

AQUAMAN swims into theaters on December 21st, 2018.

READ MORE - Everything we learned on set! + Interview with producer Peter Safran about all things Aquaman

READ MORE - Jason Momoa talks the classic suit, working with James Wan and more!

READ MORE - James Wan on why he chose to make Aquaman and the character's solo journey onscreen

Source: JoBlo.com

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