Everett K. Ross was created for Marvel Comics by writer Christopher Priest and Kenny Martinez as an “everyman” audience-surrogate, based on the smart Alec TV character Chandler Bing from ‘Friends’ (played by Matthew Perry). As such, he was often handled in a comedic light, but that may change. Martin Freeman (‘The Office’, ‘Sherlock’, ‘The Hobbit’ films) debuted as Ross in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ but that was just a set up for his larger role in ‘Black Panther’, which was the comic book in which the character flourished. While the comic book version is a dignitary, working for the State Department, Freeman’s character has the impressive-sounding title of Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Counterterrorism Center and reports to Secretary of State (William Hurt’s Thaddeus Ross).
As such, don’t expect the awkward, nervous character from the comics to leap onto the big screen. Freeman went into extensive detail about his role in ‘Black Panther’.
“It was my desire to not be … I think we’ve all seen the idea of the goofy White guy among cool Black people going, “What the hell?” I’ve seen that about four billion times today, so, I don’t really need to do that again. I had early conversations with Ryan about that. Both of us were very keen that that wouldn’t be the case in this, you know? He has moments of comedy, he has moments of levity and there was humor there, but that’s not his purpose.
“He’s good at his job. I think we’re going as realistic as you can be in a heightened universe. It would be slightly incredible for him not to be good at his job and not to be competent at this position that he’s at… He’s well-traveled. He’s well-versed in the ways of the world. Wakanda is gonna be a surprise to him. But, in terms of meeting diplomats, kings, that’s not particularly fazing to him. He meets superheroes. So I think some of his humor comes from exasperation rather than [being dumbfounded]. That’s not his function in this.
“Literally he’s a suit, I guess, but he would have been trained, like everyone in his position would have had field training and he would have done little bits, I think, in the field, even though he’s not an all action guy. I think, he’s essentially a decent person who is wanting to save lives where possible, even thought that doesn’t take up 100% of his day. Most of his stuff, I think is diplomacy, really. I think if he’s dealing with people from other countries, other cultures, I think he’s good at making his agenda the agenda that he wants on the table, you know. That’s it. I think unless he’s hanging out with superheroes he’s pretty high status guy. Like, he would be the guy in the room, everybody’s like, “Okay, he’s here.” But the guys he’s hanging out with are even more high status, so.
“Yeah, I think his job would mean that he has to have both of those things, which again would be kind of different, I guess, from the comics. Like, him actually being a physically able person and an intellectually able person, and I think morally kind of sound, you know? Like, as sound as you can be if you’re high up in the CIA. Like, some of the decisions you will have to make will not be pleasant and will not be things that we would want to make but you have to make them.”
Ryan Coogler directed ‘Black Panther’ and co-wrote it with Joe Robert Cole. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker and Letitia Wright. It opens in theaters on February 16.