Interview with Dominique Thorne: Black Panther Wakanda forever

Dominique Thorne made her MCU debut as Riri Williams aka Ironheart in Black Panther: Wakanda Still. Black Panther: wakanda forever focuses on Shuri, Okoye, Nakia, Ramonda, and the entire nation of Wakanda mourning their king, T’Challa, as a new threat reveals itself. Riri Williams catches the attention of Wakanda, Talokan, and the US government with one of her inventions that draws her into the deadly conflict between Wakanda and Talokan.

With Iron Man gone, Riri Williams is set to step into the role left behind by his heroic sacrifice. Riri proves her wits, engineering skills, and hero abilities in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s possible that the events of the film, Riri seeing Wakanda and learning Talokan, will lead directly to her solo Disney Plus series. Stone heart is set to debut in 2023.


Related: How MCU’s Ironheart Is Different From Marvel Comics’ Version

Screen Rant spoke with Dominique Thorne about the role of Riri Williams in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Thorne shared the advice she received from MCU veterans including Robert Downey Jr. and Brie Larson, as well as the experience of working with Ryan Coogler to create her character in the film and Stone heart series. Thorne also discussed what is central to Riri’s character and how the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will inform Stone heart.

Dominique Thorne on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Riri in her Ironheart costume in Wakanda Forever

Screen Rant: Dominique, congratulations. Riri Williams is in the MCU. I know Ryan Coogler realized Black Panther: wakanda foreverand it’s EP on Stone heart. Can you tell me about a collaboration with Ryan Coogler to create Riri Williams?

I think one thing about this man, Ryan Coogler, is that he knows how to tell a story. He knows how to get to the truth of a person. He knows how to tap into everything about the human experience that truly draws us in and connects us. He does it well every time. He was the one who showed me, someone who was in the theater every day, this movie might be something to explore when I saw Fruitvale Station. To start working with him now and just hearing his thoughts and ideas about who Riri is and how she moves through the world; what she looks like, how she wears her hair, how she dresses, that she could be a sneaker head? It’s just another example of the storytelling elements that really matter when it comes to encapsulating or trying to encapsulate humanity in a fictional person. The best guide by far.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s those nuances that Ryan brings to some of these characters that make them feel real in such a fantastic universe. Riri was confronted with shocking things in Black Panther: Wakanda Still, including the hidden city of Talokan. How do these events change Riri Stone heart?

That’s such a good question. That’s definitely a question best answered coming to the show next year, but I really think a lot of what we see with Riri in particular, in wakanda forever, is the beginning where she has to consider her ambition and really begins to understand what it could mean. I think until then, and as suggested in the series, it goes through MIT. She has her own little side business, makes a deal there until she has a reason to literally look up and see those larger worlds that lie ahead of her that she has no more no choice but to face. I think that kind of confrontation between nothing but his own brilliance and his own genius is a very exciting thing in itself. I think if people were intrigued enough by that, they might be happy with the show next year as well.

Riri Williams putting together her Ironheart costume in Black Panther Wakanda Forever

I know you talked about working with Ryan and how he understands the character, but what did you want to bring to Riri that wasn’t necessarily on the page?

Honestly, the main thing – it’s probably the one and only thing I was hoping to convey – was that she didn’t have to look like a traditional genius or a traditional hero, and she wasn’t the neither. She was first and foremost a young black girl. That’s it. That’s all too. Then I think it becomes a much more interesting ride to then see how this young black girl, who is also from Chicago and the South Side, engages with Talokan mysticism. Then it becomes more interesting to see what it’s like for someone to confront themselves and step into those spaces, knowing that’s their experience. That’s what ties him to everything, and everything else now becomes another opportunity for adventure.

You’ve just finished working with the amazing cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Can you tell me about any advice they might have given you as veteran MCU actors, and if other veteran MCU actors like Robert Downey Jr. had any advice as well?

I would say the cast of the show really did such a good job of really walking into their excellence and understanding that their first responsibility was to their character. I think that was a big lesson I learned on day one, probably most explicitly from Danai. She has such clarity on [her], just like the Queen of Wakanda and the Royal Family, to define her character. Which was also amplified by the rest of the cast, just with the way they approached the scenes; not being afraid to ask questions or question certain things that didn’t sit well with them because they know the characters better. I think that was a great lesson.

I didn’t get to speak with RDJ before we started filming or anything, but towards the end of the movie, I actually got a chance to talk to him via FaceTime. A castmate on Ironheart had actually done a show with him and hooked us up, and he had nice words to say about how much he believed Riri Williams is and should always be his own person, his own thing. That this legacy is going in the right direction and all the nice encouraging things you hope to hear from Iron Man himself.

I also had the chance to speak with Brie Larson. She was truly an open book about what her experience was like as a human woman trying to play a superhuman woman, and all that goes with it. I’ve been very, very grateful to have real, genuine conversations with people who care about work. Not only do they do a great job and create characters that we fall in love with, but they also care about how that role and that job is executed.

About Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther 2 Wakanda Forever Trailer Letitia Wright as Shuri Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams Ironheart

Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye, and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must unite with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.

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