The vast multiverse of “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” contains dozens of animated variations of the web-slinging Marvel hero. But even with a two-and-a-half hour runtime (and a second film, “Beyond the Spider-Verse,” slated for next summer) there’s not room for every riff on Spider-Man to make the final cut. One fan favorite character nearly left out of the adventure was Daniel Kaluuya’s ultra-cool British antihero Spider-Punk.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Across the Spider-Verse” producers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and co-director Kemp Powers recalled the process of casting Kaluuya as the web-slinging punk rocker. The filmmakers recalled that they considered cutting the character from the film — but ended up expanding his role once they realized Kaluuya was a perfect fit.
“Some people were like, ‘Is there a way to simplify this? There’s so many characters. Do we really need Spider-Punk?’” Miller said. “But once we got to know Daniel, we rewrote the part so it became more necessary.”
“He was in and out of the picture for a little while,” Lord added. “We weren’t sure which elements we were going to stick in this part and which were going to migrate to the next movie.”
Lord explained that after meeting Kaluuya, they “realized that he had to be Hobie Brown, no matter the cost. And Hobie had to be in the movie because that personality needed to be part of the story.”
As it turns out, Kaluuya was an influence on the character long before he became formally involved with the film. Powers explained that the animators used the “Get Out” star’s voice as a point of reference when developing early mock-ups of the character’s mannerisms. Once Kaluuya was cast in the role, adjusting the animation to fit his voice acting was a very smooth process.
“As we were doing visual development on the character, we were actually using audio clips of interviews with Daniel Kaluuya,” Powers said. “Daniel Kaluuya’s natural speaking voice was right in the pocket of that effortless cool we envisioned the Hobie character having from the beginning.”