Just two hours from the set of Marvel’s first black superhero movie, the Ku Klux Klan was holding rallies in a Walmart parking lot.
Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman saw the KKK gatherings firsthand as he drove home to visit his family in South Carolina.
“When I was shooting Black Panther in Atlanta, I used to drive back on off-days to go see my family in Anderson. It’s about two hours,” he told Mr. Porter.
“And I would see the Klan holding rallies in a Walmart car park,” he added. “So it’s like we’re going forwards and backwards at the same time. People don’t want to experience change, they just want to wake up and it’s different. But this — shooting Black Panther and then driving past the Klan —that’s what change feels like.”
Growing up in the South, Boseman said he experienced racism firsthand. “It’s not hard to find in South Carolina. Going to high school, I’d see Confederate flags on trucks,” he remembered.
“I know what it’s like to be a kid at an ice-cream shop when some little white kid calls you ‘n—–‘, but your parents tell you to calm down because they know it could blow up. We even had trucks try to run us off the road.”
Excitement is high for the film’s debut, but Boseman said he’s keeping his expectations tempered for now. “I hesitate to jump on that ‘Oh, it’s a movement’ thing. Because it depends on how it opens. I mean, it’s got to happen first, right?” he explained. “People need to show up and not bootleg it.”
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Boseman, 41, also opened up about his long road to mainstream success, wondering aloud why it seems to take black actors longer to break through.
“When did [success] come to Denzel[Washington] or Sam Jackson or Morgan Freeman? And why is that? I don’t have the answer, but it’s a question to pose,” he said. “The industry looks for white actors and actresses, but it’s not the same for black actors. We have to really put the work in.”Black Panther hits theaters Feb. 16.