In Marvel’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson (left) plays Natasha Romanoff and OT Fagbenle (right) plays Rick Mason. Mason is to Romanoff what Alfred is to Batman.

Jay Maidment / Marvel

This story is part of I’m so obsessed (subscribe here), our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, careers and current obsessions.

OT Fagbenle is best known for playing Luke on the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. With the fourth season of the Emmy-winning series now in the rearview mirror, it’s Fagbenle’s next project that could be his biggest. He stars as Rick Mason alongside Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel Black Widow Movie, which opens July 9 in theaters and is available to watch on Disney Plus with Premier Access. It’s the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film released since Spider-Man 2019: Far From Home.

For several people, Black Widow will be the first movie they see in a real movie theater since the start of the pandemic. At CNET’s I’m So Obsessed Podcast, Fagbenle acknowledged the hype accumulated after Black Widow has been delayed multiple times during the pandemic.

“We’ve all suffered from not having common experiences. And for us to come together and enjoy some Marvel extravaganza, that’s so cool,” said an excited Fagbenle.

If you’re wondering who Rick Mason is, Fagbenle says he’s the person who’s a resource for whatever Romanoff needs. Mason is the kind of utilitarian character who has become an archetype in comics, books, and movies.

“Mason is a lot like Q from James Bond or Alfred from Batman. He’s the guy who can connect our hero with whatever he needs,” Fagbenle said. “The only difference is that there is a bit of flirtation, which is oddly absent with Alfred and Q.”

While Black Widow is the biggest movie Fagbenle has worked on, her next role could be his biggest. He will play Barack Obama alongside Viola Davis as Michelle Obama in the upcoming Showtime The First Lady series, which will be released later this year. In addition to exhaustive research and watching numerous documentaries on Obama, Fagbenle also took an offbeat approach to learning more about the former president.

“I try to make a much more sophisticated take on Obama than someone who makes a funny impression, because that’s a whole other thing. But very early on, when I wanted to get wide moves, gestures and voices, I contacted some of his imitators, ”said Fagbenle.

He said it was there that he learned about the Obama maracas gesture. During a Zoom video call, Fagbenle performed the gesture, which involves pretending to hold an invisible maraca. To make a point, instead of pointing fingers, Obama “rocked an invisible maraca” as he spoke.

During our animated interview, which you can listen to with the podcast player at the start of this story, Fagbenle spoke about playing life on The Handmaid’s Tale, what he learned from working with talented and powerful actors. like Davis, Johansson and Elizabeth Moss, and how virtual reality can be used to tell stories.

Black Widow releases Friday, and you can watch seasons 1-4 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. You can subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode of CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast, Connie Guglielmo or I meets an artist, actor, or creator to learn more about their current work, career, and obsessions.

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