Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright are rising stars in Hollywood following the critical and financial successes of “Get Out” and “Black Panther,” and the two actors have something in common in that they both attracted buzz early in their careers for appearing on “Black Mirror.” The science-fiction anthology series, created by Charlie Brooker, cast Kaluuya in the second episode of its first season, “15 Million Merits.” Brooker recently told Entertainment Weekly Kaluuya’s audition made it clear the show had to bring him on board.
“When it comes to Daniel, when we saw his audition it was a bit of a no-brainer,” Brooker said. “It’s a very tricky part because for the first 15-20 minutes he hardly says anything. He’s sort of depressed. When he comes to that big speech at the end where he has this huge explosion and rails against everything in that world, he was so incredible in that scene, such a towering performance, that I remember thinking, ‘As soon as anyone sees this, surely this guy will get snapped up by everyone.’”
Brooker said he was surprised Kaluuya’s career didn’t immediately skyrocket after the “Black Mirror” episode, which aired December 2011 on Channel 4. The actor landed a supporting role in Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario,” but Brooker knew Kaluuya was destined for leading roles after seeing his work in “15 Million Merits.”
“I thought he was a leading man,” Brooker said. “And then I remember seeing the trailer for ‘Get Out’ like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Daniel!’ I later discovered later that it was because Jordan Peele had seen him in ‘15 Million Merits’ that he was cast in ‘Get Out.’…Obviously he would have got there on his own because he’s such a talent, but it’s very gratifying that was literally the thing Jordan Peele saw that made him go, ‘Who is this guy?’ That’s brilliant, and it was borne out, because how fucking good was he in ‘Get Out’? He’s just an exceptional talent.”
Brooke revealed that years later Kaluuya played a role in Letitia Wright’s “Black Mirror” audition. Wright played the lead in “Black Museum,” the final episode of the show’s fourth season.
“She did an audition for us, and there was this voice reading lines off camera that she was responding to,” Brooker said. “It was an American accent, but Annabel and I were going, ‘We recognize that voice, where is that voice from?’ And it was Daniel Kaluuya! He was reading off-camera for her, and the character he was reading was American so he was doing his U.S. accent, and they were just doing it in her trailer for ‘Black Panther.’ We got her just in time, because now she’s much more in demand.”
Both Kaluuya and Wright’s careers have flourished in the years following their “Black Mirror” appearances. Both actors starred in “Black Panther,” while Wright reprised her Marvel role of Shuri in “Avengers: Infinity War.” Kaluuya is currently earning raves for his supporting turn in Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” now playing in theaters nationwide.