When Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa debuted in Captain America: Civil War, audiences were also introduced to his silky Wakandan accent. When Black Panther delved deeper into the hero’s fictional country of origin, it was up to the ensemble cast to replicate the specific dialect too. But when Sterling K. Brown initially signed on for his scenes as N’Jobu, he didn’t get the memo. Oops! Here’s what he said:
Sterling K. Brown tightly squeezed in his small role in Black Panther between his rigorous shooting schedule for NBC’s This Is Us as Randall Pearson.
The award-winning television actor had been working on a particularly emotional episode of the series in Season 1 titled “Memphis,” similarly focusing on the lost relationship between a father and son. So he didn’t have much room to think through his Black Panther character’s accent until he reached the set.
Even though it was a last minute surprise for Sterling K. Brown, he worked through it anyway for the couple of scenes as Killmonger’s father. It paid off too — for the few minutes the actor is seen, he completely steals the screen. While the actor doesn’t seem confident he nailed the accent, he understood the weight of the role as his priority. He continued to Variety with this:
While Sterling K. Brown originally auditioned for Jabari tribe leader M’Baku, played by Winston Duke in Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler later asked him to play N’Jobu instead. Brown instantly felt he could understand the position of the character, who became disloyal to his country of Wakanda in an effort to help the disadvantaged black community in Oakland, California.
The Wakandan accent was created by Chadwick Boseman and a dialect coach he hired. They had previously worked together to perfect a South African accent for another film role. Initially, Marvel execs weren’t sure the accent would play well with audiences, but Boseman felt uncomfortable with just going with an American or British accent for a film about an African native.
Considering Black Panther topped the 2018 domestic box office chart, and is now being considered for a few categories at the Oscars, the cast’s commitment to the Wakandan accent was well worth the effort. Fans are hoping to see several Black Panther characters return in Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, which opens in theaters April 26. Check out our 2019 movie release guide for more big dates ahead.