Photo by GP Images/Getty Images for Disney Studios
"This is so dramatic," Lashana Lynch laughs as she turns away from the widow in her hotel suite. The curtains gently billow behind her and sunlight shines in from the courtyard as Lynch, wearing a floor-length red embroidered with silver and white stars, steps forward to greet me. It's a fittingly dramatic entrance for the British actress, who is poised to break out in the equally dramatic Captain Marvel.
Lynch plays Maria Rambeau in Marvel's latest offering, a single mother and Air Force fighter pilot who serves as the beating heart of the movie. Onscreen, Maria accompanies her best friend, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) on an intergalactic adventure, but the process of shooting the movie and embarking on a global press tour has been quite the journey, as well. "Man, it's definitely an adventure," Lynch smiles. "I'm having such a good time, actually. I just love talking about it." In a sitdown with ET, she talks about which scenes felt like filming an indie, working with young Monica Rambeau and where we'll see Maria next.
Some spoilers for "Captain Marvel" ahead, so proceed with caution.
ET: I found one of your first scenes with Brie -- when Maria and Carol are sitting at the kitchen table and Maria is telling Carol how hard it was after she vanished -- so moving. Marvel has had emotional scenes before, but your performance in that scene really got me.
Lashana Lynch: Wow. Thank you, thank you very much.
Because this is an origin story in reverse, starting at a place where you already have to have a deep connection that we haven't seen develop on-screen, what did you have to do to get there with Brie before filming? Or are there shortcuts to get there?
I think the nice thing about working with someone who wants the same thing as you -- in that we want to represent women in their fullest, in all of their glory and just being authentic and unapologetic -- it didn't ever feel like me and Brie had to sit each other down and talk about what we're going to portray and, like, how we're going to make this scene real. We literally were just having conversations onscreen, and I think because we were filming that literally right at the end of the movie, we'd gone through such a nice journey, that it was actually quite nice to finish on that kind of connection with the two best friends.
So, we didn't have to work hard at all. She's so very authentic, works very hard and was very much in-sync with what I wanted to represent in this movie, so I feel like we just talked. And literally what you see on the screen is what we did. There was no added extras. It was just a nice, almost, like, tiny little indie in a big franchise.
I was on set last year and when we sat down with you, we talked about how Monica grows up to be a superhero and we asked if Maria had any of those super-qualities about herself. And you said you had "feelings," but you didn't know. If you remember now, what were those feelings?
The feelings were feelings that I still hold to this day, in that the more I learned about fighter pilots and the more I thought about what kind of single mother I wanted to represent, I realized that those were her superpowers. So, the two married together perfectly. You've got a woman who is strong and bold and fearless and is very unapologetic and has trained for so long to just be accepted in her male-dominated environment, and then you have a single mother who's actually proud of being a single mother and doesn't really need the support to be able to raise a child to become a superhero. I think it's a nice setup for Monica, in that you see exactly where she gets her strength from. I stand by all of those still. They still hold.
When you have such a wonderfully rounded, strong character, is there any disappointment that you don't also get to shoot some photo blasts yourself or be the one to have superpowers in a superhero movie?
I mean, I'd love to throw a photon blast, just in general life. That'd be great. [Laughs] It could come in handy. But, no. I think Maria gets her moments in the movie. She's able to prove herself emotionally, she's able to prove herself in her own personal environment, and then when she's taken out of that comfort zone, she handles it beautifully. She really takes to it and it's not like she feels out of her depth, she just carries through. Like, she holds weapons and sees different types of creatures, and she's like, "Sure, that could be in our world. I completely accept that. My best friend's just come back and she says she's got powers all of a sudden. Let's run with it. I'm sure it'll come in handy someday." So, yeah, no. I don't feel like I'm missing out in any way. Everyone has a nice chance to be their own little superhero in their own fashion.
The movie ends open to the possibility of a sequel set in the '90s, and then in the post credits scene, we see Carol very much in the present day. Where would you like to see a Captain Marvel 2 go?
Ooh. It would be nice to see Captain Marvel way in the future. Just like with this origin story, we've gone back in time before she had her powers and then as she got her powers and that slight journey just after that, I think it would be nice to see everyone -- no matter what characters they are -- way in the future. In like, 2050.
I'm very into that. If a sequel jumped forward to present day, would you still be down to play that 50-something-year-old version of Maria?
Ab-so-lutely! With wrinkly prosthetics? Absolutely. [Laughs] Of course. That would be brilliant actually, to have both present Maria and future Maria in the same movie, doing a back-and-forth type of thing. That would be cool.
I was doing the math and Maria would only be, like, 55. And we know that Marvel can de-age the hell out of people, and in Ant-Man and Captain America, they've aged up Hayley Atwell. So, you could see what you would look like at 55!
True! That would be brill. I think my mum would be really interested to see that. I think that would be brilliant. Or maybe they should go way back in time, like they did with Captain America. Well, he was from that era anyway, but an era that, to the average Joe, wouldn't make sense. Like Captain Marvel in the Elizabethan times, for example. Do you know what I mean? Just a completely different world. Two worlds mashed together would make a really, really good movie, I think.
I'm imagining Brie in the full suit and then one of those Elizabethan wigs from The Favourite.
Oh my gosh, a hundred percent. Her just like landing there and then having to blend in. I think that'd be perfect. And then having to put on the dress over her suit. Random stuff like that I think would be pretty cool.
Have you started dream casting the grown-up version of your onscreen daughter?
I've seen some ideas online, and everyone seems really cool.
What were some of those names you saw?
I'm not even going to say, because I also have friends who I would love to play her, as well. My friends I've worked with and friends I've always known could play a superhero, so I feel like...
You have to start pitching them!
I know, right? Like, here's my list of a 50 million people. I want all of them to play her. [Laughs] I think that I'm just going to hold my cards quite close to my chest and then when it happens, I'll see if I'm right or not.
I was thinking about it when I got out of the movie and my pick right now is Yvonne Orji.
Oh! My gosh! Ooh, I love her and I love Insecure.
She has a similar energy to you -- a strength and a sense of humor -- that I think feels very Rambeau. So, drop that one to the Marvel higher-ups. Let Kevin [Feige] know.
OK! I'll let Kev know. [Laughs] Oh, wow. She would be a great pick actually, that's a really nice option. I'll have a word, possibly tweet her or something.
I have to ask now that we've seen the tease to Endgame, will we see you or Monica pop up there?
I'm not sure...
You have to! You can say, "I can't say," but you know!
I mean, you never know what Marvel is going to do! Like, Marvel can put anyone anywhere. From what I know, no. I'm not in Endgame at all. But who knows? I could just pop up in a little-- I don't know. [On] someone's hand or something, like a bite-sized version of Maria. Who knows? But no, I don't think I am.
When you look back on filming, is there one memory you'll take with you that sort of encompasses your experience on Captain Marvel?
The last two weeks of shooting in Maria's house with Akira [Akbar], who plays Monica, who is absolutely fantastic and, actually, she was giving me acting lessons on-set. I feel like I need to stick by her and make her my acting coach. [Laughs] There was an emotion that I was carrying throughout the shoot that I maybe held in and I was able to release it in those last two weeks, which was really beautiful. It just ended with exactly what I think the main theme of the movie is, in that women are sticking together, they're empowering each other, they have each other's back, no matter what. They're ready to steer them in the right direction when they feel like they're a little bit wayward or they're feeling a little bit less than.
Maria has a really nice quality, in that she's able to encourage Carol to remember that she's enough, encourage her to remember that, even before this whirlwind of experience happened in her life, she was my best friend and will always be the most powerful person in the world. I think that enabled her to really hone in on her power and use it in the way that we see her do in the movie. So, the last two weeks were really special for me, because I was able to just have brilliant conversations on-set through brilliant writing and it felt like I was in Maria's world.
What's the best acting lesson you're going to take from Akira?
It's funny, because the younger version of Monica in the movie, as well, is her sister, so I feel like both of them just make me release a little bit. They were just like, "I'm just going to run around." And I'll be like, "How should we stop this scene? Should we walk in? Should we already be sat? Do you want to look at me?" And she'd be like, "I feel like you should just take it as it comes." And I'm like, OK! A young little girl who's just given me all the wisdom in the world. I'm changed forever.