The current difficult state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is partly due to its over-expansion into too many streaming shows of varying quality – but at the same time, the best of these series have introduced some of the MCU’s most promising characters current. In the just released Wondersthe brightest spots are the new teammates joining Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers: Disney+’s Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) Ms. Marveland Monica Rambeau, first played by Teyonah Parris in the best MCU show, WandaVision. (The character, who goes by several superhero names in the comics, including Pulsar and, yes, Captain Marvel, first appeared in the MCU as a child in 2019. Captain Marvelplayed by Akira Akbar.)
In an interview originally conducted for rolling stoneIt is WandaVision oral history, Juilliard-trained Parris – who also starred in candy man And They cloned Tyroneand broke through playing Dawn Chambers on Mad Men – looked back on what it was like to join the MCU and more.
You said you first discovered the character of Monica Rambeau through tweets from fans who wanted to see you play her, which is such a unique way to discover something.
Yes, it was five or six years ago. I kept getting hit with it on Twitter. And if you see it enough, you’re like, “Well, who is that?” » And so it was Monica Rambeau. And I looked for her. And I was like, “Wow, she’s amazing and has such a rich history in comics.” » But to be honest, she’s a woman and she’s a black woman. So in my opinion the likelihood of us seeing her at that time was very slim. And so that was it. I was like, “Oh, thanks guys. How nice. And now we will move on to more realistic and achievable dreams.
Then she appeared as a young girl in Captain Marvel, I thought, “Oh my God, wow. This is the character fans are talking about. And what’s weird and crazy is that I never even thought about it, while watching the movie Captain Marvel, that she would actually grow up and they might have to treat her as an adult. It never occurred to me. This is really not the case. So I enjoyed this movie and kind of gave it up. But basically, it came back and I auditioned for it. And then I discovered that I was Monica Rambeau. And it was a very surreal feeling.
Because you knew the whole story, and what it meant to be cast as her, and that it was so much more than just a role in WandaVision?
It was surreal because I always wanted to be in the MCU. And I almost didn’t see how that would happen. So there was this: “Oh, my God, I’m part of the MCU.” I didn’t know what character I was going to play. And then I found out it was Monica Rambeau, who is a real badass with a long legacy and a very beloved character in the comics, and I was like, “Oh shit, I can play her.” Then there was the added element: this was the character the fans wanted me to play.
And what made it all so surreal was that I didn’t know how much of a role they were going to make of Monica in WandaVision at that time because I didn’t have any scripts. I mean, at that point, they had barely told me the name of the show before they told me I got the part. Maybe two months after I got the job, I saw the storyboards on the wall, and I see my face (digitally pre-visualized) in footage of the action – that moment when Monica crosses the hexagon, they made this storyboard with my face. And it was so overwhelming that I remember bursting into tears in that room in front of them. They brought me some tissues, and I was walking down the hallway, and all of a sudden I see Kevin Feige, and he’s like, “What are you doing here?” And I’m trying to pull myself together.
What thoughts led to these tears?
I thought of my parents, of their love, of their encouragement, of the difficult times when perhaps we don’t reserve anything for a year and a half and we don’t have any money. So I just felt the support and the love, and how many people brought me to this moment. It was a real dream, to be a Marvel superhero, and here I am. I think it was also about knowing that being a woman and a black woman in this superhero space, it’s not very often that we get that. So now I can add to that narrative, to that representation, and be part of the images that I wanted to see more of as a young girl. So there were a lot of them.
I thought of my parents, of their love, of their encouragement, of the difficult times when perhaps we don’t reserve anything for a year and a half and we have no money… It was a real dream, to be a super -Marvel heroes, and I’m here.
It’s a tricky thing playing a character you last saw as a kid, and you’re obviously a different actress. And there was something so fluid about it. From the first second I saw you, I fully believed it was the same person. Was there anything specific regarding the study of Akira Akbar’s performance in Captain Marvel Is that why it worked so well?
I think Sarah Finn (casting director) did a wonderful job seeing the similarities between Akira Akbar and who I am, you know, the things we have in common. I watched Akira in Captain Marvel, and I drew from her sense of how intelligent she is, how she speaks for herself, and how intuitive she was, even as a young child. And so I tried to bring some of those broad, broad characteristics to what Monica is today. A lot of time passes between where we first see her and when I arrive. As humans, we change with our experiences. Although she may have been an open and free child, I had to understand what happened to Monica in the meantime and how it may have shaped who she is today – her experiences with Carol Danvers, her experiences with her mother and now having lost her mother without even being there for it, and she has experienced this grief. So we came to many moments that would shape someone’s personality. So I just used things like that.
For anyone who grew up reading comics in some part of the ’80s, Captain Marvel was Monica Rambeau. You know, he was the first Captain Marvel I met.
Fans who have loved her for years or decades come up to me and let me know how special she is to them and what she meant to them growing up. And it’s pretty cool that she’s been in people’s lives for so long. And the character is truly loved by many. And it’s great.
Have you thought about how you will balance the MCU with the rest of your career?
I think I’ll play it as I go. I just approach it with an open heart, with gratitude and grace, and we’ll see what happens.
Finally, is Juilliard training still useful even if you’re 50 feet in the air in a harness?
(Laughs) Oh man, Matt Shakman I had a little running joke with me like, “Oh, did they teach you that at Juilliard?” Like when there was a green screen behind me and I was trying to act blank. They didn’t teach me that at Juilliard. But there are other things and elements that have been taught, like putting your feet up and just being in the moment, and that’s what I try to do.