Daniel Kaluuya talks putting himself into Spider-Punk for Across The Spider-Verse

daniel kaluuya
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Man, like, Hobie! Get ready to meet one of the coolest - if not, the coolest - Spider-Man around, Hobie Brown, a.k.a. Spider-Punk. As soon as Hobie steps onto the scene in critically acclaimed sequel Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, it is clear that he will be a fan-favorite, oozing charming charisma and swagger. 

However, since his comicbook debut in 2015, the anarchy-loving teenager has already amassed a huge fan-base, which came to actor Daniel Kaluuya’s aid when he was cast in the role. The Oscar-winning star of Get Out and Nope was previously unfamiliar with the character, so he dived into some research. And given that Spider-Punk is so oriented around music, that included looking at which bands and singers fans associated with Hobie. 

Speaking to GamesRadar+, Kaluuya explained that there were plenty of dedicated fan-made playlists out there: “When I started the process, I went to Spotify and typed in the word ‘Spider-Punk’. I just knew that some fan out there would have made something! So, I found a couple of playlists and I would just listen to them, be like vibing out, getting the energy. It was interesting to see what fans of the comics felt about him, the purists. I listened to the songs and anything I would engage with, I’d listen to it again.”

Finding Spider-Punk's voice

Across the Spider-Verse

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

It didn’t take long for Kaluuya to be at one with his character though, telling us that the connection was instant thanks to the actor’s London background: “I’m from Camden so I just get it! I just get that resistance and going against the status quo. So, I didn’t need to be as immersed as I was born there, I understand the mindset of these people because I grew up around them and am it.”

Director trio Kemp Powers, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Justin K. Thompson wanted to harness this to bring Spider-Punk to life, asking Kaluuya to infuse the dialogue with London slang - which does mean we get some funny captions translating the likes of ‘I don’t have a Scooby-Doo’ for international audiences. He reveals that having this freedom was pretty special: “They sat me down and were like, ‘we want you, so we want you to bring you to it’. They asked me ‘what would you say here, what is the real word that would be used here’, giving me free rein and allowing me to use my background in improv. We were exploring the voice as there hasn’t been a narrative version of Spider-Punk before in film or television. So, it was a discovery, and we found something that was a melting pot of all that London is but also the attitude that someone who was a punk or from Camden would have, without being watered down or becoming too commercial.”

I wanted to make it feel like a song, something coming from a rich place

Spider-Punk uses this slang in a melodic manner, speaking in a way that can only really be described as lyrical, which as Kaluuya explains helps gives us an insight into what Hobie’s music sounds like: “I wanted to make it feel like a song, something coming from a rich place. We tried a version where it was normal when he was talking and then another version where he was rapping, but in a punk style. That’s the version we used which had this staccato, a different energy. But if he spends most of his days playing music and singing songs, that’s what it would be like, especially when he’s speaking about his history.” And hopefully in the next film we will get to see Hobie shred his guitar whilst performing, not just in battle.

What's next for Spider-Punk?


(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

And it isn’t long until we will see the third instalment, Beyond The Spider-Verse, as it currently has a release date of March 2024. That movie will see the introduction of even more Spider-People, which will be quite the impressive feat given that this one has around 280 variants at the filmmakers' count. These are voiced by a rather stacked cast that includes cameos from the likes of Jack Quaid, Andy Samberg, and Yuri Lowenthal. So, the question is then, which celebrities should join the starry ensemble Spidey cast for the next chapter?

Kaluuya himself already has his top choices laid out: “Snoop Dogg! Spider-Dogg - D, O, double G! He would shut the shit down. He’s got the best voice in modern society, let’s keep it real. Or, Bill Murray - I don’t know how you get him in it but my guy Bill has got to be involved as well. If I could work with Bill Murray in any shape or form, I’d be a happy man.” Well, fingers crossed that happens!

We spoke about George Orwell's 1984, Hobie's reality reminds us of that

We could very well see more of Spider-Punk outside of these films too, with fans clamouring for the character to get his own spin-off series. It is within the realm of possibility, especially following Sony producer Avi Arad's recent reveal that an animated Spider-Woman movie is coming soon. Kaluuya is keen on the idea as it would allow for a further exploration of Spider-Punk's world which is only glimpsed at in this movie: "I think his world is really interesting, this mix of London and New York. It's very oppressive, we spoke about George Orwell's 1984, Hobie's reality reminds us of that. I would love to watch that as a fan and if it happens it would be amazing, but if it doesn't we've got this." He's damn right and what a treat Across The Spider-Verse is!

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is available to buy on digital platforms.

Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.