Spoilers for The Woman King below!The Woman King star, Thuso Mbedu, recently revealed why Viola Davis wants to die in the potential sequel to the epic historical action movie. Davis stars as General Nanisca, the strong capable leader of the Agojie, the all-female warrior legion that existed in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. Serving the young King Ghezo, Nanisca is charged with leading her army in an effort to free Dahomey from its tributary status under the Oyo Empire. In her command is Lashana Lynch as Lieutenant Igozie, Shiela Atim as Lieutenant Amenza, and Mbedu as the new recruit Nawi.
The Woman King released to near-universal critical acclaim, garnering a 95% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and pulling in over $19 million in its first weekend. The film was praised for its compelling performances, grand scale, and stunning action. However, a vocal minority has criticized the movie regarding its historical accuracy, which the filmmakers and Davis rejected citing the truth the film covered and the intention to entertain.
In a recent interview with THR, Mbedu discussed the possibility of The Woman King 2 and why Davis would like to die right away in the film. Mbedu explained that during training for their roles in The Woman King, Davis said that if there would ever be a sequel, Nanisca would be old, gravely ill, and “die within the first five minutes.” Mbedu said that the discussion began during training where Davis admitted that the physical preparation was so hard that she could not imagine ever doing it all again. Read what Mbedu said below.
(Laughs.) Viola says, “If there’s a sequel, Nanisca is toothless on her deathbed.” She said that she should die within the first five minutes. That conversation started when we were training. She was like, “This is so hard. I cannot imagine myself doing this again.” So that’s the most that’s happened in terms of that conversation. Nobody wants to set themselves up for something that doesn’t happen.
To prepare for their roles as the Agojie in The Woman King, the actors had to undergo significant training to achieve a physique and a level of physicality required to look like a 19th century Dahomey warrior as well as to convincingly pull off the stunts required to create the movie’s lauded action sequences. The stars were subjected to nine months of rigorous physical training that included weight lifting, sprinting, and weapons training. For Davis, a venerable actor at the age of 57, the experience was exhausting. Instead of putting herself through such a physically straining regimen again, the actor would rather have her character die almost immediately.
Although The Woman King ends rather conclusively with the Dahomey freeing themselves from the Oyo Empire, there is still a lot of history to mine for a potential sequel. The end of the 19th century saw the Dahomey battle the French in two separate wars. In both conflicts, the Dahomey lost, but the Agojie were recognized by the French as some of the most fierce warriors they faced in those engagements. Although there is room in history for The Woman King to get a sequel, due to the absolutely strenuous physical preparation needed for the role, Davis indicates that she may only return to immediately die to avoid the exhaustion.