Even though the official cast listing has him as “Man #1” on the IMDb page for 2012’s record breaking film THE AVENGERS, a little digging turns up Joss Whedon’s go-to guy for stunts and mystery roles, Damion Poitier. I got the chance to speak with him, tried my best not to geek out (too much) and talked with Damion about what it was like when he got the news that he was to be THE Big Bad of the MARVEL Universe and the state of the industry for black geeks.
GeekMundo: Your appearance as Thanos in the end credits of The Avengers, put you bang in the center of one of the greatest cinematic moments of all time. How did you feel when you learned you got the part? It must have been mind-blowing!
Damion Poitier: Well I was actually in the make-up chair when I found out. I am a HUGE comic reader/fan, so to say I had to suppress my reaction would be a bit of an understatement. But it kind of went: “Incredulous, Disbelief, Appreciation, Horror (after mum was the word), Determination.”
Damion cuts an intimidating figure as Thanos, the Mad Titan
GM: Amazing. I don’t think I would have been able to contain myself. That said, (We’re probably going to start a debate here but), some might say that there isn’t enough of a black presence within the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Going beyond on-screen roles, what are your thoughts on why this gap exists?
DP: It’s interesting when we hear that because realistically we (Blacks) only make up about 13% of the population, that comes down to about one in eight. So when we look at how often we appear we should keep that factor in mind. Now I’m not going for any attempt in statistical legitimacy (I’m a storyteller, not a statistician,) but even in my layman’s terms we can see that our entertainment presence is heavy, all things considered. Being that we are not traditionally mainstream content creators, it is not difficult to see how we may have been overlooked in fantastical scribblings.
GM: What’s your take on the opinion that the negative aspects of the black experience are a major factor on why there are so few visible content creators within the entertainment industry?
DP: There is no illusion that the negative aspects of our culture have been the most publicized, dare I say,even celebrated in popular media. We have all heard stories from creators about how their take on genre has been deemed “inauthentic” by people who aren’t members of the culture. It’s a case of lack of exposure to the wide variance of the black experience. That may come off as apologetic… It’s not. I feel it’s necessary to examine the many roots of any issue I attempt to gain an understanding of. The commonly stated issues are only a portion of the problem, definitely a large portion, but not the entirety of the issue.
GM: Let’s backtrack a little. What were your influences growing up and how did you end up working with Joss?
DP: Growing up I had a wide variety of influences. Comic books were a very early and very positive influence. I also read quite a bit of genre fiction (Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror) and mythology as my family were all fans. My first experience with Joss was on the set of ANGEL as a stunt performer. He kept making shows and I kept ending up on them until a camaraderie formed based on mutual interests and Comic-Con run ins.
GM: Is there anything outside of acting that you are currently working on that we will get to see?
DP: Yes, I have been writing a variety of projects. One is a full superhero universe that I eventually intend to publish in at least two mediums (book and comic form with potential for other formats). There are various others that are still awaiting completion and finding their mediums. I have been focused on the performance medium for now, it will be a lot easier to deliver a tale to a ready built audience (and it allows me more time to properly develop them).
In the make up chair as a Romulan for J.J.Abrams’ Star Trek
GM: I know you’re a bit of a voracious comic book reader, so what are some of your favorite titles and TV shows?
DP: Gold Digger, Savage Dragon, Invincible, 10 Grand, Everything Spider-man, Everything Avengers, Watson and Holmes, Everything Ultimate, The Massive, Federal Bureau of Physics, Astro City, Hoax Hunters… On the TV side Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, all of those are must watch.
GM: That… Is an impressive and worthy list. Listen, our readers would NEVER forgive us if we didn’t ask what is it like to work with Joss Whedon?
DP: It’s awesome… You are dealing with a guy that knows exactly what he wants, but is not afraid to experiment and see if something better can come out of the situation. He’s been at it so long and he lives and breathes this stuff so you can feel the love of the work in every beat. I know people can never say enough good things about directors they work with but, I can never say enough good things about Joss…
Poitier has a lot of fun on set, no doubt. Living the dream.
GM: Any chance we’ll be seeing you again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? *hint hint*
DP: That information will come out of mouths with a higher pay grade than mine. *chuckles*
GeekMundo: *soulcrushed* Aw man… Listen, it’s been great talking to you. I’ll be keeping an eye out for your projects and look forward to interviewing you in the future!
Damion Poitier: Thank you!
Damion has had various roles in a wide array of movies and television including Sons of Anarchy, The Hangover 3, Star Trek, True Blood and of course, The Avengers. You can follow his twitter, @DamionPoitier and like his Facebook fan page!