In Black Panther, Winston Duke plays the character of M’Baku, but trying to describe him and how he fits into the grand scheme of things isn’t easy without giving away major plot points of the anticipated Marvel Studios movie. When Duke stopped by the New Hollywood Podcast to talk about the comic book pic, we had to tiptoe around plenty of spoiler landmines.

“Black Panther” actor Winston Duke
Dino-Ray Ramos

In the comics, M’Baku is technically a villain when it comes to the world of Wakanda, but as we have seen in past movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — especially in Captain America: Civil War — the good guy/bad guy concept is fluid. For Duke, it goes beyond good or bad. Born in Tobago, Duke emigrated stateside when he was fairly young. As an immigrant in the U.S., he talks about how he was a recluse when trying to adapt to American life and how when he would return to Tobago he was referred to as “foreign used.” That said, Duke waxes poetic about how Black Panther tells a story that is in touch with his own journey of cultural identity and nativism.

Like Letitia Wright, Duke is a breakout out in Black Panther. The Person of Interest alum and theater actor’s portrayal of M’Baku stands out — in more ways than one. Towering at 6-foot-5 (or 6-foot-4, depending on your source), Duke not only dropped some knowledge about the real-world parallels of Black Panther but also about the impressive list of actors of color from his alma mater, the Yale School of Drama (Lupita N’yongo was his classmate), his ideal TV reboot, and his unlikely obsession with The Golden Girls.

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