CAMILLE FRIEND Establishing the Talokanil, a brand new underwater Maya society, [we want To] represents this very well. We want to be culturally appropriate. We worked with Dr. Gerardo Aldana [Chair of Creative Studies and Professor of Chicano Studies in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara]. He gave us a lot of little jewels about what [Mayan culture] was and wasn’t—for example, a single woman whose hair looked [one-way] compared to a married woman or an older woman. You can’t just go to Google — it’s buried stuff, it’s buried in the ground.
JOEL HARLOW say you [use] Google – you’ll find things that may not be culturally Accurate. It was helpful to have Dr. Aldana as our guide for the “film” or inaccurate depiction of Mayan culture. If you can’t trace any of the glyphs I’ve carved on these pieces, on the rebreathers, back to something that’s actually culturally accurate, then you’ve got to throw them out.
FRIEND I call Ryan [Coogler’s] office the “War Room”. He loved taking all of us out there, and he’d say, “Call Dr. Aldana. Get him on the horn!” We literally had him there to help all of our departments. [And] everyone working as Talokanil is Latino. Some of the kids were flown in from Miami, some of the cutest kids. All done well.
Tenoch Huerta Mejía as Namor in Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever . Provided by Marvel Studios
FRIEND I have a whole new respect for water as it has a living, breathing element. Some of our first camera tests said it all. We put people in the water and the hair doesn’t look good. But that’s why you want a camera test, because then we found out: You can’t use gel, you can’t use hairspray, because when they go into the water, it’s just a big white cloud. So tweaking our programs, figuring out what resources are going to work underwater, what products are going to work… One thing we made, kind of crazy, was like glue hairspray. We took a glue, diluted it with alcohol, as thin as possible, and formed a spray. The hair needs to be secured with three rubber bands to hold it in place. All these little things, just to make the hair look great underwater.
HARLOW WATER is relentless. It erodes mountains. After making all five
Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I know the water will bring about problems. Everything will take longer; if you’re dealing with prosthetics, everything will be twice as difficult to maintain adhesion. Now you see people painted all over in blue, fighting underwater. So, you have wear — wear and water, and that’s how you remove most things. The first time I did a full Talokanil look—you know, blue—I brought it in and showed it to Ryan. He said, “Yeah, that’s it, let’s do it.” I sprayed [the actor] and it started to bleed blue. He was still covered in the same blue. But these little streams of dark blue sweat are coming. I was like, “Well, I’ve got to find something else. It better look like this because [Coogler] has approved it.” So we did. But at the end of the day, you have the wardrobe rubbing against it, and you have the fight sequences. You get skin spots. You go in, you touch them, it’s a lot of maintenance. Half the work is in the morning trailer. The other half is on set.
Provided by Marvel Studios Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
HARLOW We got some rainbow colored tattoos on the Wakandan Navy to denote rank. Some of them are gold. some are silver but they are all reflective tattoos seen in. That was so raw. Just one thing to say about my partner in crime Joel: you rarely get to work with someone who can do anything you can imagine. He can do any skin tone, any skin texture, and all the beautiful things he does in those two movies are unbelievable. This is his testament as an artist.
HARLOW I would go along with that because the style I see from the trailer [makes Unbelievable. I really like Maya’s hairstyles, which gave us a great idea of the makeup, because everything had to be cohesive from top to bottom.
Tallo Garnier in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Provided by Marvel Studios
HARLOW We have a very good working relationship with Visual Effects Supervisor and Supervisor Geoffrey Baumann – we started place ends. It’s a wonderfully seamless working relationship. There are some things [like Namora’s feathers] that you can’t shoot underwater; they have to be programmed. You could easily go to [Baumann] and say, “Look, here’s a problem, Feet in the air. I can’t do it. Just make sure you handle it.”
FRIEND When it comes to hair, we are very [responsible] for putting on [big helmets] and stabilizing them because they have to fight in those helmets. Our entire Latin cast—Tenoch [Huerta Mejía], Mabel [Cadena] and Alex [Livinalli], all great actors, very patient, very kind—really stuck with it and practiced with those headgear. If you’re fighting, you have to keep your balance, with weight on your head.
HARLOW I think Namora’s look is probably my favorite. Mabel Cadena plays Namora, and her beauty was done by [makeup artist] AJ Crimson, who we sadly lost before the movie came out.
friend good friend.
This story first appeared in the February, separate issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, 5630 click here to subscribe .