Rising Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks With BW at Sun Valley Film Fest 2018 

click to enlarge Yahya Abdul-Mateen II poses with BW film reviewer George Prentice. - JASON MERRIT, GETTY IMAGES
  • Jason Merrit, Getty Images
  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II poses with BW film reviewer George Prentice.
If you don't already know the name Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, you probably will soon. He has already co-starred in one of the biggest films of 2017 (The Greatest Showman) and will appear in another highly anticipated blockbuster this year (Aquaman). But Abdul-Mateen was particularly excited Wednesday night to be spending a bit of time in Idaho, rubbing elbows with fans at the launch of the seventh Sun Valley Film Festival.

"These people are in love with movies. And I'm certainly a film lover too. But I'm also fortunate enough to be here as a performer," he said.

As a young man, Abdul-Mateen's big dream was to be an architect, and he went so far as to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in architecture. But when he was laid off as a city planner, he spent much of his time at a public library, where he read one play a day for an entire summer.

click to enlarge Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will co-star in Aquaman later this year. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will co-star in Aquaman later this year.
"It changed my life. I went to the Yale School of Drama, where I got a Masters degree, and I started getting jobs," said Abdul-Mateen. A few months after graduation, he was cast in the Netflix series The Get Down. High-profile performances followed, including appearances in Baywatch, The Greatest Showman and Aquaman, which is slated to open this December.

"What can I tell you about Aquaman? Epic. And wow, the star power: Jason Momoa is phenomenal as Aquaman. Plus, there's Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe in the cast.  And the action? Let's just say that we're going to break a few things."

After picking up the Sun Valley Film Festival Rising Star Award for breakthrough talent, Abdul-Mateen planned to wing his way to Brazil.

"I can't tell you anything about that particular film project just yet," he said. "But I can promise you that it's exciting."
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