With the release of Luke Cage, the Netflix-watching world will have just one name on their lips: Simone Missik. The actor plays Misty Knight, the show's straight-talking NYPD officer trying to take down Harlem mobster Cottonmouth. No doubt, she'll be the show's break-out star.
Sitting down with The Independent one sunny day in a Paris hotel room, Missik talked Misty, diversity, her future with Netflix and #MistySoLit. Read our Q&A below.
Hi Simone, lovely to meet you. What attracted you to the show?
[Laughing] They offered me a role, which is attractive. I read the sides for Misty and just thought this is something you don’t see often with women, especially women of colour, where you get to be this smart and self-assured, and powerful. Also vulnerable. It was just such a gift every day because she’s not just one thing - she’s three-dimensional - which you just don’t see every day with women. It was exciting.
In the first episode your character goes off with Luke Cage and it seems, at first, that Misty would be just another girlfriend, but then that trope gets flipped on its head.
When I got the script and it read that they hook up and have sex I was like ‘Whaaaaaat. Oh no. Did we talk about nudity?’ Because I didn't think that was what was going to happen with that character. And there is the fear, that she becomes the girlfriend, the love interest, but they didn’t write her like that at all. They were actually very interested in making them opposing forces, which was great. It’s wonderful to play against as a character because she was attracted but at the same time has no desire to be with Luke Cage because she was so dedicated to the job. It was a lot of fun and turning that traditional ‘idea’ around - which we see so often in superhero shows and movies - was great.
You share just as much screen time with Cage, it could be the Misty and Luke show really. It must have been liberating having that much time with the character?
It was! They don’t tell you what you’re getting into and I had no idea it would be this expansive. Every script, I felt liberated. I felt the ability to grow, not just having the supporting actor role. It’s a credit to the writing team to make her story just as important.
The cast is incredible, it must have been ecstatically fun on set?
I love our cast and crew so much. The crew is like a family, they travelled from Daredevil to Jessica Jones to Luke, and they’ve just finished Iron Fist. Then there’s Mike [Colter] and Mahershala [Ali] who were the brothers I never knew I wanted. Then you’ve got Alfre [Woodard] who is the funniest person you have met, which you wouldn’t think because she’s Alfre Woodard. Emmy-nominated and winner Alfre Woodard, how are you this cool and hip? She’s just awesome, they’re all so much fun to work with off camera. Then on camera they all take it very seriously, everyone wanted to make this show what it is. Everyone came from a certain perspective which was fun to work on.
The show is great which feels like it is knocking down doors. It’s a predominantly black cast for a superhero show. Do you think that’s important for right now?
It is super important. It’s the first to air in 190 countries at once which is mind-blowing, for one. For it to be this show, a superhero show with people of colour and amazing female characters, I think that it gives the world a different perspective on what you see going on in the media right now. You feel in America, black people are people targeted, hunted, or they’re being vilified. The thought is they are all thugs and they should all be shot by the police, it’s important to see varying shades of black people. We have bad people. We have good people. We have good people who do villainous acts. You get to see them as human being, as you do with most other shows. It’s important to come out now just to get the conversation about what makes a good character.
Do you think it marks a significant change in Hollywood?
I think it does. Netflix has always been ahead of the curve with the way they choose their stories. Just look at Stranger Things, doing a show with kids and a varied cast. They love telling good stories. I don’t know how many black superhero shows I’ve heard about since Luke Cage’s trailer came out. It was like ‘Huh, interesting timing’. But it will get people working, which is exciting. Hopefully, it won’t be just a bunch of copycat Luke Cage’s, it will be other more exciting stories about people of colour.
This also feels like a big moment in your career. Are you excited for what is to come after?
I am! I think that thankfully Netflix will keep me working for some time. It will be interesting to explore more Misty Knight as a character. I’ll get the opportunity to live the career I’ve always wanted to live. Luckily I’m in the Netflix family and they keep you close. Just look at Alfre, doing Lemony Snicket, Mahershala from House of Cards.
Netflix originals to look forward to in 2016
Netflix originals to look forward to in 2016
1/14 House of Cards - Season Four - 4 March
Last time we were in Frank Underwood’s White House things weren’t looking to great for the President, his first Lady having just walked out on him. What will happen next in the critically acclaimed show is anyone’s guess.
2/14 Daredevil - Season Two - 18 March
Back in Hell’s Kitchen things were seemingly getting better. Kingpin is in prison and the crime syndicates should have dispersed - for the meantime at least. Unfortunately for Matt Murdoch, there’s a new anti-hero in town: The Punisher.
3/14 Flaked - 11 March
According to Netflix, Flaked is set in the insular world of Venice, California. It follows the “serio-comic story of a self-appointed 'guru' who falls for the object of his best friend’s fascination. Soon the tangled web of half-truths and semi-b******* that underpins his all-important image and sobriety begins to unravel. Arnett plays Chip, a man doing his honest best to stay one step ahead of his own lies.
4/14 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season Two - 15 April
Following the story of 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt on her journey through New York, season two is set to start right where the last left us. The Tina Fey created sitcom has already been renewed for a third season, so you know this one has to be good.
5/14 The Ranch - 1 April
A comedy starring Ashton Kutcher. Based on a failed semi-pro footballer who returns home to a Colorado ranch. It also has some of the producers from Two and a Half Men behind it, which just happens to be one of the most successful shows of all time.
6/14 Marseille - 5 May
Netflix’s first French language original is a tale of ‘power, corruption and redemption’. Sounding like it could very well be the next Narcos.
7/14 Grace and Frankie - Season Two - 6 May
The tale of a retired cosmetics mogul and a hippie art teacher living together was a hit across the world, especially in the US. Starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the show has already been renewed for a third season.
8/14 Orange is the New Black - Season Four - 17 June
Another Netflix powerhouse, Orange is the New Black will see us returning to Litchfield Penitentiary. Prepare for more Piper, Alex and Red come June.
9/14 Stranger Things - 15 July
Eight-episode series starring Winona Ryder that follows a small community as they look for a young boy who has seemingly vanished. It all sounds quite scary.
10/14 The Get Down - August 12th
"Told through the lives and music of a ragtag crew of South Bronx teens, The Get Down is a mythic saga of the transformation of 1970s New York City.” Directed by Baz Luhrmann, this is sure to be as stylish as anything he’s done before.
11/14 The Crown - Spring
Starring Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, the period drama ”reveals the political rivalries and romance behind Queen Elizabeth II's reign and the events that shaped the 2nd half of the 20th century."
12/14 Luke Cage - Fall 2016
First appearing alongside Jessica Jones in her Netflix series, Luke Cage will pic up the pieces, seeing Cage come to terms with his super-strength and impenetrable skin. It is unknown whether Kathryn.
13/14 Narcos - Season 2 - Fall 2016
It’s back. The Netflix series hyped to match Breaking Bad was an astounding success around the world, apparently watched more than Game of Thrones. We’ll find out what happens to Pablo Escabar now he doesn’t have the protection of all his men.
14/14 A Series of Unfortunate Events - Fall 2016
Netflix is set to revisit the much-loved children’s novel, putting Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in a show that looks so much creepier than the 2004 film. Not much else is known - i.e. casting - but Lemony Snicket is on board as executive producer, so get excited.
I was speaking to Mahershala earlier, he said social media has played a huge role in people being able to voice their opinions and demand shows like this. How important do you think social media has been in making Luke Cage a reality?
It’s played an enormous part. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at Netflix, but the response at Comic-Con and the subsequent online response, it’s changed the way I’m being used to promote the show. Fans are very excited for Misty Knight and they’re responding to that. But then there are also those people who reach out saying ‘We’re going to Tweet #MistySoLit.’ It shows Netflix there’s an immediate audience built in.
Had you read the comics before?
My introduction to them was this job. I read Archie Comics as a kid and I knew Storm, a female black superhero. I was just not at all familiar, my favourite was Wolverine. It’s been a fast introduction.
It must be great bringing another female superhero of colour to public attention again?
It’s an honour, it really is. There are so many other female superheroes of colour people are discussing now in other projects. It’s exciting, I feel like it’s another wave of something, like being around for the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx. It’s amazing.Reuse content