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SYFY WIRE Interviews

'Black Adam' stars Quintessa Swindell & Noah Centineo took inspiration from 'Star Wars'

SYFY WIRE interviewed Quintessa Swindell & Noah Centineo in the lead-up to Black Adam's premiere in theaters on Oct. 21. 

By Vanessa Armstrong
NOAH CENTINEO as Atom Smasher and QUINTESSA SWINDELL as Cyclone in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “BLACK ADAM".

Black Adam will not only introduce us to Dwayne Johnson’s take on the titular anti-hero, it will also feature four superheroes from DC’s Justice Society of America (JSA) that we have seen on the big screen before. Two of those superheroes — Cyclone and Atom Smasher — are also new to the JSA in the film. 

SYFY WIRE talked with the two actors who play Cyclone and Atom Smasher — Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo — about what well-known franchises they looked for inspiration, what they think a movie featuring both of them would be like, and what Cyclone’s costume tells us about the character.

Read on for that spoiler-free discussion.

Black Adam (2022)

Quintessa, you already talked about your inspiration for portaying Cyclone’s powers, so Noah — I’d love to hear how you prepped to portray Atom Smasher, especially the scenes where he grows large.

Noah Centineo: They put me in a motion capture performance capture suit to do all the big stuff, and a lot of it is, of course, looking down [laughs]. But for him, when he grows his muscles break and then form, and then re-break and that's he grows.  I’ve broken enough bones to know what that feels like, so I tapped into that.  It's not a smooth process.  I also really dove into his family's past — his grandfather being forced into villainy and then his uncle being a superhero as well. So he comes from this pedigree, almost this like nepotistic privilege of being a superhero. And I wanted to figure out how that would inform the way that he walks into a room. 

I know the comics were a big source of inspiration for both of you in terms of portraying your characters. What else, however, did you look to for inspiration for portraying your characters on screen?

Quintessa Swindell: I was also looking at other films that incorporated a lot of CGI or VFX to understand how an actor would either fully realize their environment or just focus on the character interaction and let the green screen do its thing. So I was looking at Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones.

Centineo [to Swindell]:  What did you come up with?

Swindell: With Star Wars, it was like they're not really focused externally, like if they’re on Naboo you know, they're looking out and realizing where they are and embracing that and letting that inform the vibe.

Centineo: For me, every character — even if they're a superhero, meta-human, villain, or anti-hero — ideally the way that we're playing them is as a human being first. So, if we're in a situation where something is being thrown at me, I'm just going to react how I would normally react in that scenario.

Your two characters have a bond that develops over the course of the movie as the two newbies on the JSA. If there ever was a spin-off movie that focused on your two characters, what do you think that movie would be like? 

Centineo: A lot of butting heads. 

Swindell: You think?

Centineo: I think that would be a part of it for sure.

Swindell: Oh, absolutely. And chaotic. 

Centineo: It would be similar to a coming-of-age film. Black Adam, for us, is about two meta-humans learning what it means to be a superhero. And then it's the metamorphosis of turning into one. I think we learned that through this film. And so I think any other film if it takes place beyond this one would be the maturation of those two characters and putting into practice everything they've learned in this film, but they are both still so young. There's a lot of a lot to learn before we become the fully realized versions of ourselves. 

Black Adam (2022)

Quintessa, I loved Cyclone’s uniform, what was it like wearing that costume?

Swindell: I think the costume is beautiful, and I think it really represents Cyclone too, because she's the one that made it. When I first put it on, I was like, “Y'all gotta explain this, because I don't really know what's going on with this one.” I was picturing something completely different. In the comics, she's in this really beautiful sexy, silvertone suit. But her costume makes sense with this iteration of Cyclone because she's coming into herself and she's also picking out the things from like a costume shop or a theater shop, and creating the type of person or the type of hero she thinks a hero should look like. It's purely from her imagination, which I think is really beautiful and authentic and it's not trying to be anything other than who she is at her core.

Black Adam premieres in theaters on Friday, Oct. 21. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. 

Looking for more superhero action? Stream Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and more on Peacock right now.