In a recent talk with The Hollywood Reporter, Chadwick Boseman revealed that Marvel initially wanted him to axe the accent he took on for his starring role in Black Panther.
“They felt that it was maybe too much for an audience to take,” Boseman tells THR. “I felt the exact opposite — like, if I speak with a British accent, what’s gonna happen when I go home?”
He continues by adding that the omission of an accent was deal-breaker for him. “I was like, ‘No, this is such an important factor that if we lose this right now, what else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?'”
Clearly, Chadwick won the debate on that topic and we all know how it turned out. To date, Black Panther is the year’s highest-grossing film at the North American box office, bringing in $700 million and is the second highest-grossing film worldwide with $1.3 billion.
“Films can be escapism, but I don’t think this was escapism,” Boseman adds of the importance of his role and the movie. “I think this was aspirational. Some people may say, ‘Well, that country doesn’t exist, that’s not real,’ but we were pulling from all real things. We were pulling from the great empires; we were pulling from the hairstyles and the culture and the clothing; we were pulling from mixtures of politics that exist; and we were trying to create not a perfect world, but a leader and a country that was aspirational, that gets it right. And so the fact that the world could look at that and draw from it during this particular time? Only God can do that, only something more powerful and more knowing than ourselves can place it in this particular time.”
In the article, writer Scott Feinberg defines Boseman’s decision to stand his ground on the accent as a contrasting parallel to a moment at the inception of his career in which Chadwick landed his first professional acting job on ABC’s soap opera All My Children. He was shortly fired, however, after questioning executives about the character he played, noting that felt it perpetuated negative stereotypes surrounding black men.
. “I left Howard [University] with a ‘manifesto’ — I guess that’s the best way to say it — of the type of work that I would want to do,” Chadwick begins of that particular instance. “And when I say that, I mean that literally — I literally had a professor who said, ‘Write a manifesto of what you want to do when you leave.’ And this didn’t fit it.”