Daniel Kaluuya is one of the best young actors working right now. At the age of 31, he’s already racked up nominations for an Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award, and won the BAFTA Rising Star Award. He’s a celebrated stage actor, has a rich back-catalog of TV work (including writing episodes of Skins when he was still a teen), and his work in Get Out is one of the great performances in 21st-century horror. He’s currently promoting his new hotly-hyped drama, Judas and the Black Messiah, wherein he plays the assassinated Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
Things are clearly very good for him. Kaluuya has a lot of doors open to him right now. Last year, he started his own production company, 59%, and inked a first-look deal with Paramount. It’s an exciting move for an actor who seldom picks safe projects. So, you can imagine our surprise, to put it mildly, when it was revealed last October that Kaluuya’s first project under this deal was… a Barney movie. Yes, the purple dinosaur. Yeah, that Daniel Kaluuya.
It seemed like a very left-field choice for someone who has come to be defined in his career as a gutsy character actor. How do you go from that to hanging out with Mattel? It felt like a parody of a rising ambitious star’s Hollywood journey. Kaluuya then said that the movie would ‘surprise audiences and subvert expectations.’ Cue the ‘gritty Barney reboot’ jokes.
I love you, you love me, we live in a society.
If you thought that the project had been shelved or ignored thanks to the ongoing plague leaving the film industry in a state of disarray, never fear because Kaluuya and Barney are still friends! The actor talked to Entertainment Weekly about Judas And The Black Messiah and was asked what drew him to the tale of the talking dinosaur. He said:
Barney taught us, ‘I love you, you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true? I thought that was really heartbreaking. I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.
Sounds oddly heavy for a Barney the Dinosaur film, but I can’t pretend that I’m not at least a teeny bit intrigued. Mattel has a barnful of beloved IPs they’re clearly desperate to exploit, and their choices in getting them to the big screen have been rather unexpected so far. After all, we’re still getting a freaking Barbie movie with Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach on screenwriting duties. What’s next? Noah Centineo as He-Man? No, wait, that actually is happening. We did get a truly amazing She-Ra series out of this so maybe things will be more creatively interesting than expected. It’s not impossible, it’s just a case of whether or not Mattel care about that.
Please make your casting suggestions for Barney in the comments. Which thespian is going to go hardcore method for this role?
Header Image Source: Getty Images.