In the past two years, Winston Duke has had one of the swiftest and most impressive rises in Hollywood.
He earned raves for his turn as M’Baku in Black Panther (his first major film role), then starred in Jordan Peele’s Us and is now co-starring alongside Mark Wahlberg in the new thriller, Spenser Confidential, which hits Netflix Friday, March 6th.
In the latest installment of Rolling Stone‘s “The First Time,” Duke talks about life as a burgeoning star, including the wonder of seeing his face on a billboard for the first time and the surreal — and surprisingly dangerous — first time he was recognized on the street.
“I was walking the streets here in Manhattan, and this black truck, this black SUV, tinted, literally almost pushed me onto the side of the road,” Duke recalls. “And they stopped and the glass slowly came down and it was this Nigerian dude who was like, ‘I’m a big fan of you man!’ I was like, ‘I was really scared bro, I thought you were coming for me!’ It was a very awkward way of doing it, but it was love.”
Elsewhere, Duke talks about meeting Wahlberg for the first time at the Spenser Confidential table read (“He was super swaggy — shows up in just a white T with some Jeans, Air Maxs and a big silver chain”) and hanging with Peele after the latter won an Academy Award for Get Out (“He had his Oscar, he wasn’t letting that thing go”). Duke also spoke about the first time he heard Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It,” which would go on to be prominently featured in Us.
“It was probably when I first came to this country [from Trinidad and Tobago], it was like in the Nineties,” he says. “I’d never heard a sound like that before, I’d never heard music like that before… Mad vibes.”
At the end of the episode, Duke spoke about the origins of his career and the challenge of memorizing Shakespeare in his first high school acting class. “I remembered not knowing what the hell was going on and I just made it up with thy’s and thou’s and this’,” he says. “My acting teacher at the time, I remember him just thinking it was funny and he kept encouraging that playful nature.”