Two time Academy Award nominee Djimon Hounsou plays Korath in the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the latest film in the Marvel Universe. Korath is a warrior for Ronan (Lee Pace) and has made it his mission to hunt down Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and take back a mysterious orb Quill has stolen. I had the pleasure of interviewing Djimon when he was in Atlanta for a screening of the film.
Mike: What character would you choose to play in the Marvel Universe if you weren’t playing Korath?
Djimon: Well, if I had a choice, of course I would play the Black Panther. I would love to see the Black Panther come to life, whether I played him or not. African Americans are a minority, and I would love to see a minority superhero. That would be awesome.
And what about choosing another character that is in “Guardians of the Galaxy?”
Djimon: Well, I did like Dave Bautista’s character, Drax the Destroyer. I do like Drax a lot.
How did you prepare for your character of Korath?
Djimon: People have the notion that you are going to do all sorts of preparation, but there’s not much you need to prepare for. Everything I need is given in the story, and since this is a fictional story, you can do whatever you want to do with it. And certainly fantasize as much as you want to fantasize. It’s limitless on how you want to approach it.
What was the most challenging thing about the role?
Djimon: It has to be with the costume and the makeup. The makeup requires between three to five hours to apply. Also, the costume wasn’t easy. Sometimes you forget that when you put on the costume, you have to figure out how to do bathroom breaks or how to sit comfortably. The outfit I had was not suited for comfort. They don’t even think of that when they design the costumes. When you get all excited about your character and its costume, you forget about those facts. Also, when you have all those fighting scenes, the costume just doesn’t give with any big moves. That makes it extremely challenging. When you put the costume on you are ready to shoot. You don’t like waiting; you are really not having fun waiting around.
Was it weird when you watched the film to see all the characters that got put in at a later date by the special effects department?
Djimon: Oh yeah, it was. It’s quite rewarding for me watching the film for the first time and seeing it. Remembering that it takes hundreds of people to make a film, you know, like the jail scene where you have all sorts of creatures. So you have a number of people that are transformed, so when you watch the film, you feel like you are on a completely different planet.
Were you a big fan of Science Fiction and comic books?
Djimon: No, giving where I was born, Benin in West Africa . It’s only my later years in France did I realize the comic world.
How was your experience at Comic Con?
Djimon: It’s always interesting. Comic Con, wow! Thank God for those fans. How fanatical they are about some of the characters and how they have absolutely concrete ideas on how they should be portrayed.
In the Marvel Universe, characters such as Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America are more established than the Guardian characters. But Guardians has a really hardcore fan group. I was wondering how they are reacting to the film?
Djimon: Last year we presented the film for the first time. At last year’s Comic Con, we had only shot for about three weeks. We diplomatically announce the film there, and it was quite interesting to see. The reception was absolutely crazy. Thank God for those fans!
Out of the films you are currently working on, which is the one you are most excited for?
Djimon: It’s always the present one. Because once you deal with something like Guardians, where you are watching the film, you think back to those difficult days of shooting. You think back to putting on the makeup, which is dreadful. You remember some of those moments. So the most exciting film is the one you are currently working on. It has to be.
Do you have a memorable scene from shooting the film?
Djimon: The scene where Dave Bautista and I are shoving each other against the wall. Wow, that was painful.
How do you balance being a father and working on movies all the time?
Djimon: I am balancing it. I am sort of learning as I go. You can only make it as it goes. You can’t really plan ahead of time. My son has a life of his own. He’s on vacation right now, so he caught up with me in London for a day or two in June. You just kind of cope and make it happen.
Is he excited about the movie?
Djimon: Yeah, he is. I take him to pretty much every set that I am working on. I bring him along just to expose him to things I do in my career. He was on set for this film. He was in Lee Pace’s trailer putting on makeup, coming out looking like Ronan. He was also with me when I recorded the voice of Drago on “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” so I took him to Cannes when we did the premiere of the film. He really enjoys it.
Did you always want to be a part of the Marvel Universe?
Djimon: Yeah, I definitely wanted to be part of the Marvel Universe. They are developing their own stories. So I really did want to be a part of it. They definitely have the right ingredients to make a blockbuster film.
How did you feel about this film getting off of planet Earth and going out into the universe?
Djimon: Obviously that was a challenge going out into the galaxy. It hasn’t been done before. Marvel hasn’t explored that before, so this is really the first time doing it. I think this will be a great success, and I am speechless on how well it was done.
Do you think this could be the “Star Wars” for this generation?
Djimon: Yeah, that’s the only thing to compare it to, so yeah, it is the “Star Wars” of our generation.
Since you have shot some films in Atlanta, what are some of the places you like to go to here?
Djimon: You know what, since I have been coming to Atlanta, I really haven’t gone out. This is the state of beautiful people, but I really haven’t had to luxury of going out. It’s just been work, work, work.
Thank you so much and good luck with the film.
Djimon: Thank you.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” opens up nationwide on Friday August 1st.