Nia DaCosta is opening up about her time directing upcoming superhero film The Marvels.
The writer-director spoke with Vanity Fair ahead of the Nov. 10 release date of the Captain Marvel sequel, starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani. In the conversation, she revealed she turned to one of her fellow Marvel directors in particular during production when she was overwhelmed and stressed.
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While she loved filming The Marvels, she admitted there were days when she texted Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton to vent about how she was feeling.
“Sometimes you’d be in a scene, and you’d be like, ‘What the hell does any of this shit mean?'” she told the publication. “Or an actor’s looking at some crazy thing happening in space, and they’re [actually] looking at a blue X. There were obviously hard days and days where you’re like, ‘This just isn’t working.'”
Marvel encouraged DaCosta to speak to some of her predecessors before going into production on the sequel to discuss some of her fears. So, she reached out to Chloé Zhao (Eternals), Taika Waititi (Thor) and James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and asked them, “Are they going to kill me and destroy my soul? Is Kevin Feige a bad man?” she joked. “And they were like, ‘No, he’s just a good guy who was a nerd.'”
DaCosta also spoke to Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler ahead of entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He advised her to just be herself — advice she wasn’t sure would be enough, but she trusted him anyway, returning to his suggestion often.
“You can’t do anything but be yourself, so bring that to the table,” she said. “They can choose to take some and leave some, but that’s what your job is.”
With The Marvels, DaCosta becomes the franchise’s youngest director and also the first Black woman to helm one of its movies. She explained that when she goes into a room to discuss her idea for a film, she only looks at what she wants to do, instead of what the company may want her to do, making her stand out.
Prior to stepping into the MCU, DaCosta co-wrote and directed Jordan Peele’s Candyman, which marked her first major film and made her the first Black woman to have a movie open at No. 1 at the box office.
As far as mentors go for the writer-director, Peele was as good as it gets.
“One of the most important things I learned from him is how to be fearless and how to navigate studio stuff,” she told the publication. “He’s not just critically successful, he’s incredibly commercially successful as well, and that has its own pressure, obviously. He was really good at holding both those things at once.”
While Peele had her back on the set of Candyman, DaCosta revealed that there were times when crew members would say “super inappropriate” things to her that were specific to her gender, race and age.
Thankfully, she had a different experience on The Marvels, due to the fact that she was able to hire the people she wanted on her film.
“I realized it wasn’t ever gonna be about how much power I amassed or how many great movies I made, or if I won awards, it was always just going to be the people that I surrounded myself with,” DaCosta explained. “The thing that I’ve been most surprised by lately is how much respect I’m getting from these middle-aged white dudes that I work with.”
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