During an interview with Vulture, the 36-year-old actor explained why he balances out his comic book and action flicks with more serious films.
“Everything should be about getting to the truth,” he said, “But sometimes you got to know which movie or genre you’re in. Something like Aquaman, that’s clown work. Aquaman is not The Trial of the Chicago 7. You have got to get over yourself.”
Alongside roles like Bobby Seale in The Trial of the Chicago 7, it makes for a plenty varied career… and that’s the whole point.
“In order to survive [as an actor] and to do it well, you have to play that game,” he added. “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.’”
Abdul-Mateen II did offer to clarify the clown quote in a follow-up Tweet, but opted to respond with this joking photo instead.
Tempted to clarify, but for that’s no fun. Instead, heres a pic of myself on the way to work on Trial of Chicago 7. Spy anything? ? Aquaman in theaters Dec 2023! #justiceforclowns pic.twitter.com/dSIFgMX25C
— Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2 (@yahya) August 31, 2022
Abdul-Mateen II stars alongside Jason Momoa in the upcoming Aquaman sequel.
He’s returning to the role of David Kane – the villainous Manta. But to balance that out, he’s also starring in the upcoming Broadway production of Topdog/Underdog.
IGN’s Aquaman review gave it 7.5/10 and said: “The glee that director James Wan clearly has playing in the world of Aquaman is infectious. He’s made a movie for both types of 10-year-olds: literal kids and those who are 10 at heart. Aquaman is one hell of a popcorn movie – a fun time and a big bet for the DC movie universe that pays off in creating an exciting new realm for future installments to hopefully explore further. Wan’s geeky epic is chock-full of ridiculous elements and, on paper, it really shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s all so inherently weird and brazenly bonkers that the siren call of this giddy, otherworldly romp is hard to resist.”
The upcoming sequel was recently delayed by a couple of months while director James Wan shared some concept art from the film.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.