According to Ryan Coogler, wherever the camera is, that’s where he’s got to be. “If the camera’s in the water, actors are in the water, I’ve got to be in there too. I had to figure out how to swim, so I could direct this movie,” the filmmaker told Variety. Coogler said he didn’t have much experience with swimming before the movie, and he wasn’t the only one. Angela Bassett, who plays Queen Ramonda, revealed in the same Variety report that she could only partially swim before the movie rolled into production.
“You know, Black girls have this history with water and their hair. Some of us can’t swim all that well, because it’s going to mess up that press and curl. It’s a whole thing,” she said. Coogler learning how to swim also showed his ability to match his actors’ energy. According to Bassett, the director stressed to her how vital Queen Ramonda is in the wake of T’Challa’s passing.
“She had to be strong. She had to be a mother. She had to be a leader. He was just throwing all of this at me. And then on top of that: ‘Can you swim? Can you put your head in water?” she said.
As it turns out, Bassett and Coogler are in good company, as even the underwater king himself Namor couldn’t swim.