We recently spoke to decorated actor Chad L. Coleman about his upcoming projects including starring as Bruno Mannheim on season 3 of Superman & Lois and The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster, a Frankenstein reimagining by emerging director Bomani J. Story.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Nerds & Beyond: Bruno Mannheim is an iconic character in the Superman comics and lore, what can you tease about your portrayal of him?
Chad L. Coleman: Well, he’s larger than life in many ways. He’s a self-made man and has transformed South Metropolis into something to be proud of, and he’s a family man that’s done great things in the community. A complex, layered human being. There are many gray areas and he’s just out here making his presence felt and continuing to take care of his community and his family.
Nerds & Beyond: This season has a bit of a Walking Dead reunion! You briefly got to work with Michael Cudlitz on The Walking Dead, how was it reuniting and getting to work together again?
Chad L. Coleman: [laughs] I’m very happy for Michael and excited. Michael’s a very dear friend of mine and I can’t wait to see what he does with the role.
Nerds & Beyond: What are you most excited for fans to see on Superman & Lois this season? It’s been teased as the darkest season we have seen thus far, possibly.
Chad L. Coleman: I would say that’s true. They put their foot on the gas in terms of storyline and in terms of really, really exciting and combative experiences for sure. Bruno Mannheim is an incredible role. He’s a really formidable opponent of Superman and Lois. This is an incredibly challenging role. I’ve never played anyone this rich and powerful. So all of that is really exciting — the opulent sets and fantastic clothes. The complexity and the range of the role is just tremendous. He goes from A to Z and it’s incredible to watch. And they’re excited about what I was able to bring to the table, that’s what they said. That’s why they brought me in. So it’s going to be some serious drama for sure.
Nerds & Beyond: Transitioning a bit, I want to congratulate you on the debut of The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster at SXSW and its 100% rating score on Rotten Tomatoes so far! That has to be an incredible feeling.
Chad L. Coleman: Oh, it was an amazing weekend. It just happened this past weekend, and that was actually my first time at SXSW. I have a lot of respect for that film festival and it was incredible. And the film, it’s a hybrid that you’ve seen. Suggestions of it, like with Jordan Peele and a little bit with Candyman, but it’s so gritty and real and it’s got everything. It’s got the gore, it’s got social-political messaging it’s got action and a beautiful story at the center of it, about the community and what transpires in this marginalized community and how a man, I played the father of the lead (Laya DeLeon Hayes). She’s phenomenal. She carries the picture and this is her first lead, but it doesn’t feel that way. The writer and director Bomani J Story is a genius. This young man, you’re going hear from him in a major way. And the rest of the cast was stellar. Denzel Whitaker, you’ll see him in, in a role that you wouldn’t normally see him in, and he just knocks it out of the park and is kind of a newcomer.
Keith Holiday is doing fantastic work and the kids are phenomenal in it. It is a very, very powerful, important story. If you look at Lin Manuel and how he was able to reimagine Hamilton and the effect it had on everyone, I believe this film should do the same. He took this classic and he brought it into our community, but it’s a universal story. Bamani wrote this seven years ago, so he was already on that track. But it’s fierce. It’s urgent. It’s right now and I’m telling you this one packs a hell of a punch.
Nerds & Beyond: I’ve heard nothing but good things about it coming out from people that attended SXSW!
Chad L. Coleman: It’s absolutely incredible what he’s been able to do. You feel so much in this movie on so many different levels. And to see this little, young black girl as a genius and the dark, you know, horrific nature of you know, growing up in the hood.
Nerds & Beyond: Yeah, I know that it’s based on Frankenstein, it’s a retelling and we’ve never really seen a young black woman at the center of a film like this. So I’m very excited to check it out.
Chad L. Coleman: Yeah, I think this is going to have a profound effect on a lot of people.
Nerds & Beyond: I always say that storytelling is at its best when we can use it as an opportunity to teach and therefore learn from whatever subject is being presented. In recent years, largely thanks to Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Bong Joon Ho, we’ve seen an uptick in socially conscious horror films. What do you think sets The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster apart?
Chad L. Coleman: I’m talking when you walk out to the theater saying that we have a responsibility to marginalize communities. And the same thing that’s happening in Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, and California. We as human beings have a greater responsibility to help these people. And I hope that people will carry that back home with them and go across town or eight blocks over and say, “How can I help? What can I do?” To rally around these folks and help them instead of continually cutting them off and putting them in a perpetual hamster wheel. The film won’t allow you to bury your head in the sand.
Nerds & Beyond: In The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster you play Donald, who is Vicaria (Hayes’ character’s) father. Having children of your own, what was it like working with Hayes?
Chad L. Coleman: Well, everything I tell people, do you want the angst-filled father? You call Chad. I’m very comfortable in these roles because I am vulnerable as a man. Everybody faces challenges in their lives, so I’m not interested in a one-noted type of deal. We all have a ripple effect of experiences and emotions and thoughts. I’m not interested in any type of stereotype of African American males. So I want to show us in our vulnerability and our desire to lead family and community and the challenges of it.
And Laya is amazing. Her skill set is so incredible. Whenever you have an actress, or a young actor, bringing what she’s bringing to the table, it’s so easy to play with and everybody brings their A game. I’ve been able to do this on The Wire. I did it with Tyrese on The Walking Dead. I do it as Klyden on The Orville. I just understand the responsibility of depicting people outside of these narrow, stereotypical, labeled lanes that they play in sometimes.
Check out Coleman on this season of Superman & Lois Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW and stay tuned for a release date on The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster!