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Djimon Hounsou Explains Why Rebel Moon Is a Unique Franchise Starter

Few actors in the entire world are more qualified to talk about franchises than Djimon Hounsou. The man who most people first met when he did Steven Spielberg’s Amistad has since made an incredible career for himself jumping between fantastical film worlds. He’s worked with Marvel. He’s worked with DC. He’s been in the Fast and Furious, Quiet Place, and Kingsman. He’s also been in several films (Tarzan, King Arthur, Eragon) that had franchise aspirations but instead fell flat. His latest trip takes him to Rebel Moon, a two-part sci-fi epic from director Zack Snyder and Netflix. Hounsou thinks it’s Snyder himself that not only makes Rebel Moon unique but gives it a chance to grow into something more.

“The thing that’s unique about Rebel Moon is the story. The essence of the story, in which I could see the relevance of our world,” Hounsou told io9 over video chat. “The relevance of our reality, in a way, comes off the page. I can speak for the geopolitical tentacles that have been holding the continent of Africa back for centuries. That felt like it came off the page. Just the makeup of the continent, to the way he was able to tell the story of today in such an organic and grounded way really drew me [in] and speaks volumes about the state of affairs today.”

In the film, Hounsou plays General Titus, a once famous military genius who has become lost and is fighting as a gladiator (yes, that he previously played a gladiator in a famous movie with that title was a specific wink to the audience from Snyder, confirms Hounsou). Titus is recruited by the mysterious Kora (Sofia Boutella) to join a random group of warriors all with a score to settle against the evil Motherworld.

Hounsou with his cast members.
Image: Netflix

Though we don’t learn much about Titus in part one of Rebel Moon, Hounsou promises part two dives deeper and he had access to all of it. “In terms of backstory Zack knew so much about that world,” Hounsou said. “Each character is well detailed in terms of its back history in a fashion that it was almost like Zack Snyder was literally a Bible for each character’s backstory. I mean, he knows it back and forth. He knows where they come from and where they’re heading.”

Which he’d have to, because another thing that makes Snyder unique is just how busy he is. Hounsou, who has worked with the likes of Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Bay, James Wan, Guy Ritchie, and others, still found himself amazed and impressed by Snyder the filmmaker. “He is that unique because he’s is a great writer, to begin with,” Hounsou said. “And he’s, of course, the director and also the cinematographer and he’s the cameraman as well. So the spectrum of really bringing this life [together] it’s unbelievable to see. I mean, the man is tireless. The way he approached the work and the fact that he’s embraced each character with our own little cultural essence… He’s brought a global cast together in a fashion that rarely anybody ever does. I mean you can’t be more diverse than this.”

Another thing that makes Snyder unique is his fan base. Snyder is a filmmaker with a very passionate, very vocal fanbase, and Hounsou admits that essence is something he felt going into the project. “I think it does influence you a little bit,” he said. “This is the man who iconically created a film called 300. No matter where you go in the world, somebody has a DVD of that. But I think if anything, it only enhanced and supported our contributions to creating Rebel Moon. He’s definitely a filmmaker apart, in the ways he’s holding so many torches as a cinematographer, as a director, as a writer, and as a producer as well. So there’s a lot of hats he’s wearing on a daily basis. And I find it extremely commendable with the level of composure in which he comes on and off set.”

Whether or not Rebel Moon reaches the success of Hounsou’s other franchises, we may not know for a while. But that Snyder and his world impressed an actor of his experience and talent says a lot.

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire is now streaming on Netflix.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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