Brian Tyree Henry And Luna Lauren Velez Talk ‘Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse’, Parenting A Superhero & More – Interview
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is generating massive waves of excitement worldwide, and rightfully so. Following in the impressive footsteps of its predecessor, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this film had the daunting task of living up to high expectations, which it effortlessly achieved.
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a masterpiece. Prior to its theatrical release, I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez, the talented voices behind the characters of Jefferson Davis and Rio Morales, the loving parents of Miles.
Velez has consistently delivered captivating performances that showcase her range as an actress. Before stepping into the role of Rio, she gained prominence through her portrayal of Detective Nina Moreno in the hit crime drama series Dexter. Velez also has a role in the upcoming Transformers: Rise of The Beasts film.
Let’s rewind to 2018 when Brian Tyree Henry was coming off his remarkable work in If Beale Street Could Talk and Widows. During that time, I had the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss his role in Into the Spider-Verse and his excitement about becoming a part of the Marvel family. Fast forward to today, and Henry’s success has extended far beyond the superhero genre. Alongside his impressive performances in television series such as Atlanta and the upcoming Class of ‘09, he has also made his mark in the live-action Marvel universe with his role in Eternals.
Check out the interview with Brian Tyree Henry & Luna Lauren Velez below:
During our conversation, I asked Velez and Henry about their experiences delving deeper into their characters in the new film.
Velez said, “It’s exciting reprising these roles. I have to tell you, being here right now with Bryan, it’s all part of the journey that we’ve taken. We’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I have to say, it’s much more than anyone would really imagine in doing an animated film. It’s so wonderful to see where the family has gone, how they’re growing, how our characters are growing and going a little bit deeper into how this family operates.”
Henry said, “What I truly love about the Morales family is that here we have such a huge universe that they’re operating. We have a son who is incredibly exceptional, not just as a person but also as a superhero. We’re also living in present-day Brooklyn. You have this black man with this wonderful Latina wife. And we have created this wonderful Afro-Latino son, who has now been given the responsibility of protecting and defending the city. There are also a lot of pressures that come with that. How do you keep the family together? How do you make sure that you’re nurturing your child in the best possible way?
“But what I really love about what the Spider-Verse has done for us is that it has given a chance for representation to be seen between this familial unit that I’ve never seen before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a superhero living in a brownstone in Brooklyn with a cop father and a wonderful strong wife and mother. And we’re talking about his future and building his future, but also, we love each other. So I think that is something that can play a little understated, but it’s so big, it’s so important.”
Adding more context, Henry shared, “I think Luna and I really wanted to make sure that that always came across between Jefferson and Rio, that the love is there, that when you see them, you know that they parent together and that they love together and that they’re growing together. And they don’t always have the answers, which you will definitely see through this one. Because we don’t know what to do and what dimension to do it in with our son. But, it’s something that I also think about with current parents today, just like how to reach your kids when you know that your child is exceptional, how to nurture that and what to do.
“And I think that between Jefferson and Rio, because we’re also dealing with loss and grief after losing my brother, we’re doing everything we can to just hold it all together. But we’re doing it all with love and grace, a little bit. Some of us can be a little strict, but that’s parenting. And I just love that the representation is being shown for it. I’m really happy for those families that look like this that they will be able to sit down with their kids and be able to see this.”