The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SEANNA CRONIN

Yahya Ab­dul-Ma­teen II felt like a big kid on the set of Aquaman. The New Or­leans na­tive plays pi­rate-turnedvil­lain David Kane/Black Manta in DC and Warner Bros’s lat­est su­per­hero epic.

“I get to break things, run through walls and make a big mess,” he says.

“It’s one of those movies where it lets you be a kid all over again. Ev­ery day there was some­thing new. You re­ally felt like you were work­ing on some­thing that’s aim­ing for epic pro­por­tions.

“It just blew my mind to know I was a part of some­thing that had this gi­gan­tic, mag­i­cal scale to it.”

The 32-year-old had never been to Aus­tralia be­fore land­ing in Queens­land to be­gin work on the $160 mil­lion pro­duc­tion, which took up all nine sound stages at Vil­lage Road­show Stu­dios on the Gold Coast.

“The Gold Coast was beau­ti­ful,” he says. “It was my first time to Aus­tralia so I as­sumed that all of Aus­tralia was just like the Gold Coast. But then I got to go to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne and see that it’s dif­fer­ent.

“The peo­ple were nice and the food was amaz­ing. I’d never seen whales be­fore and I got to wake up and see them pass­ing by on my bal­cony. I miss it.”

Af­ter his break­through role as ‘fly gang­ster’ and disco prince Cadil­lac in Aussie di­rec­tor Baz Luhrmann’s Net­flix se­ries The Get Down, Yahya showed off his comedic side last year as a bum­bling Mi­ami cop in Dwayne John­son’s Bay­watch re­boot.

In Aquaman, he plays pi­rate Kane, who plun­ders the high seas as his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther did. But a con­fronta­tion with Aquaman dur­ing a heist sets him on a dark and dan­ger­ous path.

“As much as it’s an ori­gin story for Aquaman, it’s also an ori­gin story for Black Manta,” he says.

“You get to see who he was be­fore he be­comes known as Black Manta … you meet him when he’s on top. The re­ally cool part about him is he ex­pe­ri­ences ex­treme tri­umphs and then an ex­treme low, and it hap­pens re­ally re­ally quickly. There’s a real emo­tional depth and emo­tional rea­son be­hind his pur­suit of Aquaman.”

Don­ning Black Manta’s heavy metal suit and sig­na­ture hel­met re­quired a high level of fit­ness.

“A lot of hours were spent in the gym mak­ing sure that I was strong enough to carry the cos­tume,” Yahya says.

“There was def­i­nitely some so­phis­ti­cated wire work go­ing on and it was a bit ter­ri­fy­ing. You put on the suit and you just run re­ally fast and trust that the ca­bles work.

“The cos­tume it­self is ex­tremely well-built and gives a lot of nods to the Black Manta cos­tumes we know from the (comic book) canon, from the ’60s up to the present. But we also take a few lib­er­ties to add a few gad­gets that the fans haven’t seen be­fore.”

Now, be­tween his roles in Aquaman and the up­com­ing Watch­men TV se­ries, Yahya is fully im­mersed in the comic book world and aims to please the ded­i­cated fan base.

“I want them to walk away from a movie that meets their ex­pec­ta­tions in terms of the comic (book) ac­cu­racy but find mo­ments they didn’t ex­pect,” he says of Aquaman.

“This film has a lot of emo­tional depth to it that peo­ple will be sur­prised by, but it’s funny at the same time.

“It’s a re­ally cool ac­tion and ad­ven­ture film, so I want them to come away from it rein­vig­o­rated and I hope they go back into the comics to see what else they can find.”

In the comics, Black Manta crosses over into other sto­ry­lines in­clud­ing Sui­cide Squad. And with an Aquaman se­quel now of­fi­cially con­firmed, it’s highly likely that we’ll see more of the vil­lain.

“If the phone rings I’ll be glad to pick it up and to have an­other con­ver­sa­tion,” Yahya says. “That was an ap­peal to me with do­ing a movie like this, but I just wanted to come in and do a good job. I think it’s bet­ter to take things one step at a time.”

Aquaman opens in cine­mas on Box­ing Day


Yahya Ab­dul-Ma­teen II and Ja­son Mo­moa in a scene from much-an­tic­i­pated block­buster Aquaman, which opens in cine­mas na­tion­wide on Box­ing Day.

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