Shameik Moore Dishes On His Roles In ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ And ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’

The 28-year-old actor’s latest movie hit theaters on Friday (June 2).

Shameik Moore is one of the most notable rising actors in Hollywood right now and is building an impressive catalog of roles. Breaking out in movies like Dope and series like The Get Down, the 28-year-old actor has lately been part of numerous saga-inspired programs.

In 2018, he began as the character Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and five years later, he’s returning as the same character for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. He’s also had notable roles in Cut Throat City and Samaritan, among others, since his acting debut in 2010.

During an interview with BET Talks, Shameik Moore discussed his role as Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and how he’d love to act in a live-action version of the animated film. He also discussed the legacy of Spider-Man on the big screen, starting with Tobey Maguire as the lead man and kids wearing Halloween costumes. Moore also discussed his role as Raekwon in Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Read below.

BET: We're out here because Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is about to drop. What did it feel like coming back to this role?

Shameik Moore: I feel lucky, feel blessed. I'm excited. I'm getting more excited as we get closer and closer. But I'm excited for people to see it more than anything. I got to check it out. So it's like a breath of relief.

BET: How would you say Miles has grown since we last saw him?

SM: Well, it's been a year and a half in between each movie. And in the first film, we see Miles struggling and taking that leap of faith, but he embraces the fact that he's Spider-Man. By the end of the movie he figures out how to use his powers and he gets his friends home and he defeats Kingpin and we stopped there. In the second film, he's comfortably Spider-Man but he's bored with the petty thefts and the low level villains. He's looking for challenges and he's trying to be the best version of himself and test himself, like getting another championship ring. We kind of follow him on that journey as he's seeking that validation from himself and others. He realizes that it's more of an internal thing. It's about how you wear the mask, following a moral compass.

BET: In their original Tobey Maguire version, the motto is “with great power comes great responsibility.” So in this one it’s like, anyone can wear the mask but it's how you wear it makes you a hero. What is the significance and changing the outlook on that?

SM: I think it’s just adding on that Miles Morales is learning from Peter Parker. We can't forget that Miles Morales exists because Peter Parker exists. With great power does come great responsibility still. But to embrace that power and responsibility you have to take a leap of faith, and while taking the leap of faith, it's important to know that you're not bigger better than anybody. We're all different and important in our own ways, so anyone and everyone can wear the mask. And in his new movie, we bring attention to how you wear the mask. You could be a reporter, active athlete, teacher, race car driver, whatever you do – that's your superpower, your mask. So when you're amongst your peers and people who get it, it becomes your fingerprint. That's what matters: your choices, your discernment, your character. So as an actor, I've been really focused on purposeful impact, not just making movies, not just getting fly, making music. That's fun, that's cool, that's culture, but I think having a real impact on humanity has become something I think I would like to do. Wearing my mask as Shameik Moore, I want to add to the quality of life and humanity.

BET: How does it feel after that first Halloween when you saw all these kids dressed up as Miles Morales?

SM: It’s funny. I'm not really outside on Halloween. I never celebrated Halloween, but I do see a lot of people dressed up as Spider-Man all the time. I see people dressed up as Shaolin Fantastic, from The Get Down, to be honest. I'll go to Comic Cons and meet a lot of fans and sign their memorabilia and 80 percent of them are dressed up like Spider-Man. Walking in New York, there’s a lot of Spider-Man suits or even in L.A. So, it's interesting, honestly. It's just like, okay, I can't wait to put on the Spider Suit.

BET: I know you want [there] to be a live action version of Miles Morales, so if given the opportunity to do that, how would you play [him] differently in a live action version than you do in an animated version?

SM: I would embrace the animated version. It's already my voice. I think my voice performance would stay or continue, probably evolve because my physicality gets to come into it. The animators animate, they record the voice actors performing the lines. So they animate Miles and [Gwen Stacy] and all the other actors based off of us. But when I look at the film, there are a lot of mannerisms and things about the characters that I like to pay attention to. So I would look at that to keep Miles's twang and physicality, and bring it to my physicality purposefully as Miles Morales’ live action version, and I will put my soul into this into that opportunity. So y'all could bet that would be an iconic performance.

BET: How do you go about bringing all that energy?

SM: I have great directors, honestly. This time around we got to work with Kemp Powers who also directed the animated film Soul. So Chris and Phil from the first film, they brought in Kemp and I can trust the directors to tell me where I need to be. We've been working on this film for like four years. I do probably three sessions a month – six or seven hours per session. And so they have more than enough voice, performance and direction, etc to pull the audio we hear together for the film.

Shameik Moore And RZA Talk Dice Games, Killer Tapes And Making ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ TV Series

Shameik Moore as Raekwon The Chef in 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga'

Shameik Moore And RZA Talk Dice Games, Killer Tapes And Making ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ TV Series

BET: Switching things up, [Wu-Tang: An American Saga] just wrapped up its final season. And with this season, we got to see how complicated the road to success was for them. What was some comparisons in their story that you saw in your own?

SM: We all got friends and homies that we beef with, but if we came together, we could probably be stronger on that energy. I hate but love this comparison – [Young] Thug and [YFN] Lucci – them coming together would be insane for the Black community as an entirety. Like the culture on some music, but also coming together. That's what Wu-Tang showed us. And there's so many examples like that, so I think on a bigger story, because that's like more street level, just as a people, as a community, or even as just humanity coming together, this is so important, because when you band together, you can create something that will last forever, and have real impact.

Just as a solo individual, Wu-Tang existence allowed me to portray my version of Raekwon The Chef that also has re-energized that spirit for the Wu-Tang fans. So many people walk up to me in New York on some like, “Nah, you are Raekwon.” And then there's people that have no idea that didn't grow up with Wu-Tang and they see the show and they see me as Raekwon. So Wu-Tang is living forever.

BET: How do you take yourself out of who you are to play these individuals and really show who they are?

SM: I am not a traditional actor, I think that my approach is a little different, but I like to find a part of myself. I don't really like to act like turn on this performance. So I was walking around, feeling like I was really quiet and I'm saying I was talking to people. I was really quiet in New York. I was walking, I was eating, I was handling my my whole energy, my demeanor, all of that. I met him and he blessed me with his presence a couple of times and I just really took as much as I could. I was paying attention to how he greeted me, how he was talking to his mans, how the look on his face when he was telling me a story or how he was eating, how he was walking away. All that gave me what I needed to give you all which I needed.

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