Black Panther's Andy Serkis Reveals Klaue’s Villainous Motivations

It’s always a treat to see Andy Serkis out of the CGI-crafted character roles he often plays, and the sneak peek of Black Panther panther footage last weekend at Comic-Con International in San Diego affirmed that his turn as the unctuous Ulysses Klaue -- better known in Marvel Comics as Klaw, as created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in their historic Fantastic Four run -- will continue to be a more traditional performance, albeit enhanced with a menacing new sonic cannon to replace his missing arm.

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CBR caught up with Serkis -- the actor known for performance capture roles including Gollum, King Kong and Caesar -- backstage after the big Black Panther reveal during Marvel Studios' Hall H panel, and found him eager to tease a few details about his second time around as an iconic comic book villain, following his debut in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

CBR: What was fun about evolving this character from where you got to play him the first time around?

Andy Serkis: Yeah, the first stab of the character was very brief, but you get to see this very left field, completely very mercenary, very much out for himself, but plays with governments, knows how to wheel and deal. He’s a lone wolf -- operates on his own.

In [Black Panther], we get to see his obsession with Vibranium get the better of him -- Vibranium being the most valuable mineral known to man. When we see him at the beginning of this movie, we see him with his arm replaced. At the end of Age of Ultron, he has his arm severed by Ultron. He’s pissed at that. It’s not great. So he’s retrieved an old mining tool, turned it into a sonic disruptor, and knows that that will be able to wreak havoc.

Did that involve any of your particular area of expertise in the motion capture realm?

No, no. Not at all. This is a completely non-motion capture situation. Obviously, visual effects played a part. It was great to actually step out of the motion capture suit for a bit, and put on a pair of pants and costume and makeup, and do all that. It was great.

How much did they tell you what they were thinking when you first got the gig in Age of Ultron? What was the conversation you had back then, leading up to now?

We always knew that Klaw, who is an important character in the Black Panther stories, would play a part. But at that time, it was very much teasing him. It was when [Black Panther director] Ryan [Coogler] came on board and said, “Look, I’ve got this idea for the character which I’d really like to run with.” I just thought it was awesome. I just really loved it.

That striking visual of the character in the comics -- did that inspire you in any way?

Yeah, very much so. Yeah. Certainly, in terms of his look. He is a South African character in the comics, comes from Dutch descent, and settled in South Africa. Yeah, the look of the character was very much inspired.

Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Black Panther is scheduled for release on Feb. 16.

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