Lupita Nyong’o on Nakia’s Fighting Style in Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Panther’
By Jenn Fujikawa
Hear what it takes to be the War Dog of Wakanda.
In Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” T’Challa’s strength comes from the people he chooses to be by his side. Nakia is a War Dog, a strong-willed warrior with exceptional skills. She’s also a Wakandan spy who—unlike others—has seen life outside of Wakanda.
Played by Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o, on an intimate set visit last year, she describes Nakia and the women of “Black Panther” as departures from their comic book counterparts. Nyong’o credits director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Joe Robert Cole for deepening her understanding the role of women in Wakanda. Nakia is determined, and that played a part in taking on the physicality of the role, “It does take a lot of physical endurance and a commitment to your body. Like nothing else. But it’s been so much fun to challenge my body in this new way.”
When it comes to Nakia’s fighting style, her method is formed by a multitude of specialties: judo, jiu-jitsu, and silat. Nyong’o was pushed to take on these new techniques to form Nakia’s performance, “I’m learning all these cool skills and I get to jump higher than I thought I could jump. I get to roll backwards which I thought I would never do after the age of 8? So it’s been fun.”
Coogler is collaborative director with an athletic background himself. Nyong’o describes how he’s responsive to the actor’s needs and suggestions, “He has the mind of a fighter in a way that I really need. Because sometimes I’m like ‘I don’t know what a fighter would do?’ So to have someone who has that instinct has been very very helpful.”
“I’ve never been at the heart of an action film. So I’m fascinated with how slow it is. So slow. And so broken up. You know one moment that will go in like ten seconds you work on for half the day or something.”
Hear more from Lupita Nyong’o at Marvel Studios’ Black Panther World Premiere Red Carpet with Chadwick Boseman below:
See Lupita Nyong’o in action as Nakia when “Black Panther” opens in theaters on February 16!