“As actors we have these things that they call eco-casting, where you don’t even go to an office and meet with a human being, you just do it on your own,” Missick told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “Those auditions can feel a little futile. I put myself on tape and didn’t really think anything of it.”
Later, Missick’s manager called to say Marvel wanted to see her in person. But Missick had caught a cold while working on a play. Her voice was almost gone, too. After getting “high on Dayquil,” she met with Marvel and gave it her best shot.
Missick didn’t think she’d made a big enough impression to get the part. “Luke Cage” producer Cheo Hodari Coker thought otherwise.
“As soon as she finished [the audition] (producer) Jeph [Loeb] turned to me and said, ‘That was easy,’ ” Coker said. “When people get to see her in action my hope is that they just embrace her as the new next thing, because I think that she is. She manages to be all those things that the character is in the comics, but does it in a way that’s natural, and at the same time has emotion and emotional depth, and it’s just really a wonderful thing to see.”
Missick, who honed her acting skills while attending Howard University, stars as a Harlem cop trying to protect her city despite her neighborhood’s no-snitch-culture, which makes people reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement.
Far from a love interest — although Misty Knight and Luke Cage do share the occasional spark — Missick’s role is that of the good cop. The one who believes in “the book” and abiding by the rules. That puts her at odds with Cage, and any romantic feelings are put aside when both decide they know the best way to bring down Harlem’s top gangster (Cottonmouth, played by Mahershala Ali).
Missick is convinced that the multidimensional and multicultural world that Coker, Marvel and Netflix have built with “Luke Cage” — from the hip-hop fused musical score, to multiple black and brown faces, each with their own unique role — can have a positive effect on how movie studios and television networks portray people of color.
“I think that it will influence the way people look at the use of music in stories, just the way that we treat African American culture,” Missick said. “I think the way that our writers treat the history of Harlem and the history of those people as very unique. Hopefully it will add to the canon of work for people of color.”
Dedicated Marvel Comics fans will notice that in trailers for “Luke Cage,” Missick has yet to put on a super-suit of any sort. In the comics, Misty Knight is a full-fledged superhero. A former cop who is currently fighting alongside Sam Wilson/Captain America. Missick isn’t saying whether her character will get a little more super during her first season on “Luke Cage.”
“The comic books were set in a different time period,” Missick said. “[The role] really is just like an essence of who Misty is, but not necessarily sticking to who she was created to be all those years ago.”
Missick, a Detroit native, says she solidified her love of acting while at Howard.
“You had students who were from all over the world,” Missick said. “You got to be nurtured as a student and not as the black kid in the back of the classroom that maybe didn’t want to speak up. It’s such a rich place to call my alma mater and I’m so proud to be a Bison.”
Not lost on Missick is that she is part of a wave of black actresses set to make their mark in the live-action Marvel universe, from her “Luke Cage” co-star Alfre Woodard (who plays corrupt Harlem politician Mariah Dillard) to Tessa Thompson getting a role in “Thor: Ragnarok” to Lupita Nyong’o being cast in a future Black Panther film.
“It’s such an exciting time to see … all of these characters who people have loved for decades finally get their story told,” Missick said. “My husband does a great job of pointing that out to me that … whenever someone talks about Misty Knight, they have to talk about Simone Missick. I have been fortunate enough to be the first person to say these words.”