Candyman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Has a Hell of a Few Years Coming Up

The in-demand Watchmen star has the horror reboot, Aquaman 2, Matrix 4, and Furiosa—plus several original action films too.

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Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II looks at the camera in this red carpet shot.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II at the premiere of Watchmen in 2019.
Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP (Getty Images)

In the horror film Candyman, the killer appears when you say his name five times. In real life, though he’s not a villain, you will definitely be seeing the upcoming film’s star, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, many more times than that. In a fascinating new profile in the Hollywood Reporter, the busy Abdul-Mateen details what his next several projects are going to be and it’s beyond impressive.

Back in 2019, the star of Watchmen shot the horror reboot Candyman, which comes out later this month. From there he shot a role in Matrix 4, which he began before the covid-19 pandemic and finished under safety protocols a few months later. After that, he made a movie called Ambulance, which is directed by Michael Bay; Abdul-Mateen and Jake Gyllenhaal play criminals who steal an ambulance. Right now, he’s reprising Black Manta—his role from the first Aquaman—in the sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and when that’s over, he gets a few months off before joining up with director George Miller on the Mad Max prequel, Furiosa, in 2022.


Oh, and he’s also set up two projects at Warner Bros. he hopes to make sometime in the future. One is called Emergency Contact, an action movie set in the underground music scene of Austin, TX, produced by Dwayne Johnson’s company. And then there’s By All, described as a “dystopian thriller” that “kicks off in the aftermath of a tragic event and centers on a man who is forced to go on the run in a world without police, where justice is crowdsourced,” according to the trade, which notes Warners has franchise hopes for that one.

The bad news (for us, not the actor) is that he can’t say much about any of those closely-guarded projects. What he does say is that he believes the script for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is better than the first one and gives his character more to do. “I think the script is better than it was in the first one. It gives the actors a lot of good storytelling moments,” he said. “In Aquaman, we just got a small introduction to Black Manta and to some of his motivations. In this one, I get to exercise and breathe a little bit more. I’m showing some different colors with this one.”


He also says he was starstruck filming Matrix 4—but that there was something even odd about it beyond that, because of the circumstances for filming. “The technology that Lana [Wachowski, director] incorporated and the filmmaking, camera rigs that I’ve never seen before. It’s so ambitious,” he said. “It was really interesting to be making The Matrix 4 at a time when the world was so warped and when reality was so distorted. It could creep in a little bit if you let it.”

Which is very intriguing. But ultimately, it sounds like Dr. Manhattan himself will be more than creeping into the lives of filmgoers in the next few years. He’ll be popping up a lot. Head over to the Hollywood Reporter for much more.


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