Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star Winston Duke joined The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday and spoke about the first time he met the late Chadwick Boseman. Duke was at his final audition for the original Black Panther movie and was asked to wrestle the star.
“We were going through the scenes,” Duke explained, “and they’re like, ‘We just want to see how you guys are going to be together, like, you know, how you’re going to play. So could you, like, wrestle or something? Could you wrestle around?’ And I’m like, ‘OK. All right. If that’s going to get me this job, I’m going to wrestle.’”
Duke may have been game for wrestling Boseman, but there was one thing he hadn’t counted on.
“We start wrestling, and he’s a martial artist, so he can hold his own, you know what I mean?” Duke said. “I wrestled all through high school, and started a little bit in college, and I got in there and I crouched down, and the first thing that happened was my pants split open.”
Clearly it worked out as Duke got the part of M’Baku, and rather than being embarrassed that his pants split open, Duke was just happy to have left an impression.
“When it comes to auditions, I was like, you know what, I don’t have to book the job, I just have to win the room,” Duke said. “I just have to win the room. If I know I win the room, they’ll invite me back someday, you know what I mean? So I always go in places, I say, ‘I need to win the room.’ And when I split my pants, I’m like, ‘I’m winning.’”
Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020 following a mostly private battle with the disease. Duke spoke about visiting Boseman’s gravesite with the cast before beginning filming Wakanda Forever.
“Right before the first day, they took us to his gravesite, and we, all as a cast, said goodbye,” Duke said. “We all said our goodbye and told stories of what he meant to us, and started the show and bonded.”
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