Winston Duke was virtually unknown before he took on his breakout role as M’Baku in Black Panther. Now, the handsome Tobago-born actor is the Marvel character fans can’t stop talking about.
Here are 5 things to know about Winston Duke:
He comes from good stock.
Winston Duke comes from a family of hard workers and we’re guessing the dedication rubbed off on him. His mother owned her own restaurant when he was a kid while juggling a government job. At age 9, his mom sold all their belongings and headed to Brooklyn with him and his sister, who pursued her dream of becoming a doctor.
He and his costars go way back.
Duke is a formally trained actor who studied at the Yale School of Drama, alongside Lupita Nyong’o. The pair became “really good friends” and participated in Folks, an acting club started by another Black Panther costar, Angela Bassett.
Black Panther is his first film.
Winston Duke has appeared on several television shows including Modern Family, Law & Order: SVU, Person of Interest, and The Messengers, but Black Panther marks his first foray onto the big screen. “This is a lot more than I could have ever expected, especially for my first role,” he told Vanity Fair.
He worked hard to develop his character.
Winston Duke didn’t just read the script to get a sense of his character; he was instrumental in shaping M’Baku. The actor is the one who came up with the idea of his character’s hilarious habit of grunting when he wanted to silence someone and he conducted his own research to set his tribe apart from the rest of the Wakandans.
“I worked on Nigerian and Nigerian Igbo influences, trying to develop a different kind of culture of call and response and vocality that was different than the rest of Wakanda, for the Jabari. We worked on just having the presence—something that was different, but still felt cohesive because of its variety,” he told GQ.
“It’s really fulfilling, because I had an additional job, and it felt deeply worthwhile…It really elevated that character out of a space of being ego-driven—he’s not ego-driven, like the character in the comics. He’s driven by his responsibilities, but he has a very particular way of achieving his goals.”
He wants to be a bad boy.
Winston Duke’s star is on the rise and if he has his way, he will one day star in a reboot of Bad Boys. During a recent interview with The Deadline Podcast, he revealed his dream of working with his BP costar, Daniel Kaluuya in a new version of the infamous film franchise that originally starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.