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Sarah Shahi says she's 'the Black Adam whisperer,' shares thoughts on potential sequel
SYFY WIRE interviewed Shahi in the lead-up to Black Adam's premiere on Friday, Oct. 21.
Black Adam is about to storm its way into theaters, and we’re about to see several DC characters in live-action form on the big screen for the first time. We’re getting Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam, of course, as well as four members of the JSA — Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo).
We’re also getting introduce to at least one more DC character — Adrianna Tomaz, who in the comics is the embodiment of the Egyptian god, Isis. Adrianna is played by actor Sarah Shahi in the film, and SYFY WIRE had the chance to talk to her about her experience shooting Black Adam, including what scene made her burst into tears, and what she’d love to see happen between her character and Black Adam in future potential films.
Read on for that spoiler-free discussion.
You’ve described your character as a cross between Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, which I think is accurate. But a big part of her character in this movie is that she’s a mother. How did you approach that aspect of the character and how did it inform how you portrayed her?
When I got the role, [director Jaume Collet-Serra] and I spent a lot of time talking about her — we definitely we wanted her to be, like you said the Indiana Jones-, the Lara Croft-type. She’s an archaeologist of this country, she's a professor, and intellectually she's very smart. And because she's in this war-torn area, she's physically had to defend herself. So she's strong in that sense, too.
But then there's the mother's side of her, and the mother's side is warm and compassionate. I myself am a single mom. And I was trying to explain to somebody the other day that being a parent is the most of every emotion you've ever felt: It is the most love. It is the most fear. You hold those feelings simultaneously and you can be so mad at your child for something but then love them more than anything. So it was really important that the audience could see her sensitivity and her warmth in certain moments, especially when she's talking to Black Adam.
For her, it's more than just the safety of her country — the safety of her country has to do with her son, it has to do with her heritage and where she comes from. But she’s the Black Adam whisperer, and she has this softness that only he can hear.
Can you expand on how your character is the Black Adam whisperer, and how her relationship with Black Adam changes over the movie?
She initially needs him in order to get freedom for her country. And that's why she and the JSA are at such odds, because the Justice Society represents peace and not killing people, whereas Black Adam, his version of peace is to kill everybody. But she needs Black Adam because she understands that in order to get freedom and get things back to the way they used to be in the country, he needs to demolish [the corporate overlords] — they need to go away.
Over the course of the movie, she changes her tactics of trying to get Black Adam to stay and becomes a little bit softer. Black Adam used to be Teth-Adam, so he had a family and he lost them. And he sees that Adrianna is a mother, who has a son and whose husband died. So something that we both see in each other is that desire to fight for your family.
You have a lot of action scenes in the film — what was filming those scenes like?
The wirework was new to me. I have this scene at the very beginning of the movie where I have to scale this treacherous-looking rock and make this jump from one side to the other. And I was told that I didn't have to do it, that it was going to be my stunt double. And then about 15 minutes before we go to shoot, the stunt coordinator pulls me aside and he's like, “Okay, so Jaume wants you to do it.” And I fully started crying. I was so scared. I literally went in my trailer and I was righting all my wrongs, sending out text messages saying I love you, I'm sorry. But I did it. And after that, they were like, “Oh, I guess she can do them all.” And my kids will see that and they'll be like, “Oh wow, mom did that!”
Dwayne Johnson has said before that he hopes this is the first movie in an expanded DC Universe. If your character got featured in their own movie, what do you think that movie would be about or what would want to explore?
Oh, my goodness, I would only be so lucky. Obviously, she and Black Adam — there's a lot of history there per the comics. I would really love the opportunity to explore what their relationship looks like because they're opposite sides of the same coin in a way, and I would love to explore how they would influence each other, whether they were protecting the people or whatever the story would be. But Black Adam and Adrianna, there's a lot of history, there's a lot of connectedness between them. And to really explore what that would look in a romantic way, in a two soldiers on the battlefield kind of way, there’d be a lot of good stuff there.
Black Adam premieres in theaters on Friday, Oct. 21. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
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