Daniel Kaluuya Queen & Slim Lena Waithe Melina Matsoukas
Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in Queen & Slim. Photograph by Campbell Addy, courtesy of Universal Pictures

Daniel Kaluuya’s new film Queen & Slim has often been described as a “black Bonnie and Clyde” story, and Bokeem Woodbine’s character even ironically calls Queen and Slim “the black Bonnie and Clyde” in the film’s trailer. But in the latest MovieMaker Interviews podcast, Kaluuya told us why the film is more like Thelma & Louise.

Queen & Slim begins with a couple nicknamed Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Kaluuya) on their first date. As it winds down, they’re pulled over in a case of racial profiling that quickly escalates into a national call for justice.

One key difference between Queen & Slim and Bonnie and Clyde: Queen and Slim never set out to be criminals. They just try to get by, and they’re perceived as criminals.

Also read: How Thanksgiving Brought Queen & Slim Creators Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas Together

“It speaks to, when you are black, you don’t have to do criminal things to be seen as criminal,” Kaluuya said. “You don’t have to continue doing crime in order to be seen as these bandits. … What the characters are actually going through is this projection: They are icons. They are this. They are that. They mean this to me. They mean that to me. When they’re just two people trying to figure out life and fall in love.”

You can listen to the MovieMaker Interviews episode with Daniel Kaluuya on your favorite podcasting platform (see links below) or right here:

In 1991’s Thelma & Louise, the lead characters similarly never set out to commit crimes. When Thelma (Geena Davis) is assaulted, Louise (Susan Sarandon) shoots her assailant, setting off a chase like the one in Queen & Slim. As Thelma & Louise studies sexism, Queen & Slim investigates racism.

Kaluuya, an Oscar nominee for Best Actor for Get Out, also talks about how that role led to Queen & Slim, the Scorsese v. Marvel discussion, and why his next film will tell the story of real-life Black Panther Fred Hampton.

This episode of MovieMaker interviews also includes a talk with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood screenwriters Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, as well as Tom Junod, whose Esquire magazine profile of Mister Rogers (played by Tom Hanks in the film) helped inspire A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

You can find the episode on:




Here are some highlights of the episode, with timestamps:

1:15: Daniel Kaluuya interview begins. Audio is dodgy for a few seconds. It gets better at…

2:14: Audio issue fixed. Enjoy his awesome British accent in all its glory.

3:30: Why he knew he wanted to play Slim.

4:54: Why “Queen & Slim” is more “Thelma & Louise” than “Bonnie & Clyde.”

10:01: Daniel Kaluuya weighs in on the supposed fight between cinema and the Marvel Universe

13:40: He discusses the upcoming film “Jesus Was My Homeboy,” in which he’ll play Black Panther activist Fred Hampton.

16:05: Interview with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” screenwriters Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Tom Junod, whose Esquire article “Can You Say… Hero?” helped inspire the film. 17:15: Let’s talk about anger.

21:00: How much is Mathew Rhys’ “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” character, Esquire journalist Lloyd Vogel, based on Esquire journalist Tom Junod?

26:20: Would Fred Rogers be disillusioned by the world today?

26:40: About that Navy SEAL/sniper thing

28:50: How Noah discovered Mister Rogers was “a warlock who speaks toddler.”

30: At one point Mister Rogers estate said there will “never ever be a Mister Rogers movie.”

34:10: Where the Mister Rogers sniper urban myth came from. Queen & Slim is in theaters now.