‘Aquaman’ series star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II calls acting in comic book movies “clown work”

Yahya Abdul-Mateen starred opposite Jason Momoa in the billion-dollar-grossing Aquaman as the baddie David Kane/Manta, but he says superhero movies ironically don’t require a lot of heavy lifting — at least from an acting perspective.

“Everything should be about getting to the truth. But sometimes you got to know which movie or genre you’re in,” he tells Vulture.

“Something like Aquaman, that’s clown work,” he says, comparing another one of his films. “Aquaman is not The Trial of the Chicago 7. You gotta get over yourself.”

That said, the star says that like any good villain does, even a comic book gig can let an actor hide some good tricks up his sleeve.

“In order to survive and to do it well, you have to play that game and then be crafty about when you want to surprise the audience, the director, or yourself with a little bit of ‘Wow, I didn’t expect to see a Chekhovian thing or August Wilson and Aquaman, but I did,” he continues.

Abdul-Mateen is debuting soon on Broadway with the revival of Suzan-Lori Parks‘ Pulitzer-winning Topdog/Underdog opposite Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins. In 2023, he’ll appear again as Manta in the sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

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