When director Ryan Coogler called actor Tenoch Huerta to see if he might be interested in playing Namor the Submariner, the ruler of an underwater kingdom in his sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Huerta’s answer was an automatic and resounding, “Yes!”
It turns out, however, that Huerta had no idea what exactly he was saying yes to.
During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Thursday night (October 27), Huerta recalled that during his video call with Coogler, the entire video platform froze for about five minutes. When it started working again, Coogler had already explained what the role was that he wanted Huerta to play.
“[Coogler] said, ‘So, what do you think?” Huerta said, adding that he didn’t tell the director that he had missed the conversation. So, Huerta said yes to the role.
The video call ended with Coogler making sure that Huerta knew how to swim, which Huerta answered truthfully, but left out an important detail. In fact, whenever the question, “Do you know how to swim?” was asked by anyone in those first few weeks after he was offered the role, Huerta said his answer was always the same one he gave Coogler: “I never drowned before.”
“It’s not a lie,” Huerta told Kimmel. “I’m here.”
Kimmel seemed genuinely shocked. “Oh my, God, the Submariner doesn’t know how to swim! That’s crazy!” Huerta responded: “That’s the magic of the movies.”
Of course, Huerta couldn’t show up on the first day of production not knowing how to swim, so he took swimming lessons to prepare him for the role. He had to start with the fundamentals.
“I started with the basics – with floaties,” Tenoch Huerta said and agreed with Kimmel that the experience must’ve been embarrassing. “If you ever thought being an actor was so glamorous, no.”
So far, reactions to his performance as Namor have been positive.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11, 2022.