The Venezuelan actor talks about his experience on the set of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The first “Black Panther” movie from 2018 was arguably one of the most meaningful entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And now, its sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is set to hit cinemas worldwide. Of course, one of the things that made “Black Panther” so special was its believable, relatable and relevant antagonist. That trend continues with the Talokan.
And recently, DA MAN had the opportunity to chat a bit with Alex Livinalli—the Venezuelan actor portraying Attuma, one of the Talokan warriors featured in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”—about the challenges he faced while preparing for and shooting the film, as well as how it continues the nuanced approach to conflict and the message of representation championed by the first “Black Panther”…
DAMAN: We think it’s safe to say that everywhere around the world, including here in Indonesia, people are looking forward to seeing “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in cinemas. How excited are you about this movie coming out?
Alex Livinalli: It is super exciting and humbling to be a part of a project of this magnitude. We worked really hard on this movie. Collectively, everybody came together to make this happen. There were months of training and shooting, and the finished product is something we are proud of. I can’t wait for the fans to see it. It’s amazing!
DAMAN: Is there anything you can tell us about your character, Attuma?
Alex Livinalli: Attuma is a very skilled warrior—someone you don’t want to mess with or piss off. He’s someone who cares about his people and who is willing to go above and beyond for them. When the conflict arises, he goes to battle to preserve the Talokan’s way of life and protect their resources.
DAMAN: What do you remember most about working on “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”? Were there any particularly memorable moments that you can share with us perhaps?
Alex Livinalli: The sense of community while we were shooting was unforgettable. Everyone came together as a team. This is also mirrored in the film. Wakanda is such a unified nation, as is Talokan. The Wakandans have “Wakanda Forever,” which is a meaningful, powerful phrase. As Talokan, we felt we should have our own phrase too. In conversations with our Mayan language coach Josue, we came up with “Talokan Rises.” In this movie, we literally come from the bottom of the ocean, and we rise, so “Líik’ik Talokan” is our “Wakanda Forever.”
DAMAN: From what we’ve seen from the trailers—and what we know about the characters—there are a lot of underwater scenes in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” How challenging was it when shooting scenes like that?
Alex Livinalli: It was very challenging. For every shot, we took a breath and went down and filmed until the first person came up for air. In my first week of training, I couldn’t last a minute. The challenge wasn’t only physical, it was mental too. I had to get my body in a state of relaxation to maximize my oxygen. Once I got to a place where I could last under the water, I had to learn how to incorporate the acting and the actions. It was beautiful to see the growth that Tenoch [Tenoch Huerta plays lead antagonist Namor], Mabel [Mabel Cadena who portrays Namor’s cousin Namora], and I had from our first day of training to shooting to finally seeing everything come together in the movie.
DAMAN: Were there any other unique challenges that you had to deal with while preparing for and filming the movie?
Alex Livinalli: The physicality of Attuma was another unique challenge. I wanted to make a noticeable size difference between him and my cast members. Over the course of three and a half months, I gained 35 pounds. I was consuming 5500 calories per day and working out like a madman. With the added weight, I had to relearn how to move my body and coordinate my movements to be more fluid, which took time. Also, learning the Mayan language was a very unique challenge that we all worked very hard on.
DAMAN: All in all, how do you feel about being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Alex Livinalli: It is an absolute honor to be a part of the MCU and specifically to be a part of the “Black Panther” franchise. “Black Panther” was such a personal film for a lot of people. It opened so many doors through inclusion and brought a lot of diversity to the forefront. This is the right movie for Talokan to be introduced, not only into the MCU, but into the world. I am proud of the representation that this film brings out. To know that there will be children in Central and South America that will be able to see themselves in us, as people who look and sound like them, is so special. Talokan would not be here if it was not for the “Black Panther.”
DAMAN: On a related note, what was it like encountering fans of the franchise? Especially at events like Comic-Con and the like…
Alex Livinalli: It was very cool seeing the cosplayers dressed as Namor, Namora and Attuma. I saw a child dressed as Namor and it really touched me. It really shows you how impactful this movie is. Hearing the fans call out my name at the premiere, asking me for my autograph and for selfies … I can’t put into words how special that felt.
DAMAN: Other than “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” do you have any other upcoming film projects that you can share with us?
Alex Livinalli: You’ll have to stay tuned!
DAMAN: This might sound a bit clichéd, but with the end of the year just around the corner, what are your plans for the final couple of months of 2022? And what are your hopes or goals for next year?
Alex Livinalli: The plan is to spend it with the people that I love—my mother, my girlfriend—and eat tons of food, travel … maybe learn another language! My hopes and goals for next year are to continue to grow as an actor and as a human being.
PHOTOGRAPHY MITCHELL NGUYEN McCORMACK
STYLING KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
GROOMING GLENN NUTLEY FOR OPUS BEAUTY
PRODUCTION IAN PHILLIPS
LOCATION BEVERLY WILSHIRE, A FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
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