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On Jan. 12, Shameik Moore woke up to a flood of congratulatory messages. The night before on The Tonight Show, Michael B. Jordan had read a text the actor had sent him and cited Moore as “the next generation” of young talent to host Jimmy Fallon. That’s just one swirl of the whirlwind that Moore has experienced in the wake of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which has scored $339 million at the global box office, won the Golden Globe for animated film and is nominated for best animated feature at the Oscars.
Moore, 23, broke out with the 2015 Sundance drama Dope and starred on Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix drama The Get Down before voicing Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino teenager who dons the mantle of Spider-Man. His relationship with Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller began perhaps inauspiciously; the duo invited him to audition to play Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Donald Glover ended up landing the part, and Lord and Miller were fired during production. Moore admits he does not like auditioning, and that his feelings are hurt when he doesn’t get a role. But things worked out in the end with the filmmakers making his Spider-Man dreams come true in part because of the performance he gave in the Sundance breakout Dope.
In a conversation with THR, Moore also shares his hopes to have a track on the Spider-Verse 2 soundtrack and to some day land his own Star Wars-sized franchise.
You wrote affirmations in a notebook, like “I am Miles Morales,” before you were cast. Was “Oscar nomination” in your notebook?
It wasn’t. I did say it would be the best Spider-Man movie ever made, but that’s up to opinion. I’m just thankful. There has never been another Spider-Man movie to be nominated for the Golden Globes, let alone to win. So, the Oscar nom by itself is a huge success.
You and Michael B. Jordan have gotten friendly during awards season. Is he someone you look up to?
I was hanging out with Michael B. the weekend before in L.A. We were just getting to know each other better, just kicking it. Then he went on Jimmy Fallon. I had no idea. I thought he was still in L.A. I went to sleep, I woke up, and I’m getting Twitter messages. My manager hit me up. I go on YouTube. He could have chosen anybody in that interview. You know Michael B. has people, celebrities texting him, but he chose the messages that we were talking about. That was a big bro moment for him and a little bro moment for me.
The Spider-Verse soundtrack had a few hits, including Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” Have you pitched yourself to do a track for the Spider-Verse sequel?
They were asking me to make a song for Spider-Man before any of the songs on the soundtrack were even being considered. The only reason I am not on the soundtrack is because I couldn’t quite come up with a song myself to write from Miles’ point of view. So next time, hopefully. The music that I’ve been making is for me. It’s not really for Spider-Man. It’s for who I am. My music is a bit edgier.
Was there a day recording on Spider-Verse that sticks out to you?
I really just remember screaming, “Brooklyn!” They wanted me to scream, “Parkour!” And I just said Brooklyn because I knew Miles was from Brooklyn. I lived in Brooklyn for two or three years. I just understand when you are from Brooklyn, you’re really claiming Brooklyn.
You auditioned for directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Could you tell from that meeting that you would be good collaborators?
I do not like auditioning. … I know what I bring to the table, and if you’re sitting down with me, and I’m reading your lines, and I’m giving you my take on the performance, and you’re interested in me already — if it doesn’t work out afterward, my feelings are hurt. … [Dope director] Rick [Famuyiwa], Kenya [Barris], Phil and Chris, RZA, these are the people that have believed in me and taken a chance.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to auditioning?
I don’t really care about who I’m auditioning for. I don’t know much about who the directors are beforehand. I go in there to execute my job, and if you want me, I’m here to execute. I don’t think I knew that these were the same dudes that were interested in me for Spider-Man when I went in for Star Wars. I do remember meeting them, and going in there and doing it, but I also remember feeling like I wasn’t going to have that part.
Is a Star Wars of interest to you?
I like Star Wars and all, but I don’t watch Star Wars. I’m more of a Harry Potter guy. I grew up watching 007, Jason Bourne, The Matrix. Those type of movies — and Harry Potter snuck its way in there. The other big franchises like that aren’t really what caught my attention. But I would love to be a part of a huge Star Wars movie simply because of how big Star Wars is as a brand.
A version of this story first appeared in a February stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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