Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was a little concerned after landing the role of Aquaman’s nemesis in the DC Comics blockbuster – because he didn’t know how to swim.
The Greatest Showman star plays the villain Black Manta, opposite Jason Momoa as the movie’s titular superhero, but he was so anxious about stepping into the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, he decided to teach himself a new survival skill before director James Wan started filming.
“I feel like I kinda snuck in (to the Aquaman cast), and I didn’t wanna show up on the first day and be like, ‘So, James, I actually can’t swim,'” he explained on breakfast show Good Morning America.
However, instead of enrolling in lessons with a professional, Yahya turned to the Internet for help.
“I taught myself how to swim off YouTube…,” he said. “Just set up the phone right next to the pool, and make a really big mess!”
Asked if he had a favourite stroke, the actor quipped, “Whatever keeps me alive! It’s not pretty, but I can survive.”
Ironically, Aquaman isn’t his first movie involving water – he also featured in the 2017 Baywatch reboot.
“I keep getting myself in these situations where I did the Baywatch movie, and then Aquaman,” he laughed.
Meanwhile, Yahya reveals he received a few words of wisdom from X-Men star Hugh Jackman about portraying the bad guy while they shot The Greatest Showman.
“He said, ‘You know, playing a villain is the best part, because you get the best lines, you work the least amount of days, and you win all the fights, except for the last one!'” Yahya recalled. “And so I get there on set (to shoot Aquaman), and it actually turns out to hold pretty true. He knows what he’s talking about!”
However, he’s not convinced Black Manta is a real villain: “I’m a nice guy,” he reasoned of his character. “I’m not a villain in the movie; I think I play a good guy!”
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