Morbius, what with its living vampire protagonist, won’t be the most realistic movie you’ll see in a theater this year, but one of the Sony/Marvel film’s stars has revealed that they based their own performance on a fascinating real-life figure. With Jared Leto in the leading role, Morbius follows brilliant scientist Dr. Michael Morbius as he attempts to cure his rare blood disease, but ends up transforming himself into a blood-sucking monster in the process.
Portraying Michael’s fiancée and fellow scientist Martine Bancroft is Adria Arjona (6 Underground, Pacific Rim: Uprising). In the official Morbius press notes, Arjona opened up about how she approached her role, which is loosely adapted from the character of the same name from the comics. The Good Omens actress praised Martine’s confidence and intelligence, calling her “Morbius’ rock.”
“When Martine speaks, people listen,” Arjona explained. “It’s nice to see that in a female character. It’s not just about being pretty or strength or toughness. It’s that she’s the smart one in the room… At the same time, she’s very curious and has a big heart – her motivation is always to help others, and she’s the same way with Morbius. She’s constantly taking care of him in a different way than he takes care of her. She learns so much from him, but Morbius’s rock is Martine.”
Arjona admitted that she initially found it challenging to get into the headspace of someone so different from her, which led the star to look to politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) for inspiration, seeing her as the perfect real-world analog for Dr. Bancroft.
“When I started playing this role, I thought, ‘I’m playing with such amazing actors, but I’m not like Martine – I’m goofy and clumsy and Martine is very grounded and secure in herself. I remember seeing an interview with AOC and thinking, everything about her is Martine. She’s youthful, she’s fun, she cares about the way she looks, but she cares even more about what goes into her brain. She’s passionate; when she speaks, you can tell she’s done her research; she’s going to be listened to, no matter who is in front of her. So she was my starting point, a nice way to start my engines.”
Love interests in superhero movies are frequently underwritten characters, with the likes of Christine Palmer (Doctor Strange), Rachel Dawes (Batman Begins), and Anne Weying (Venom) springing to mind as examples of characters in the genre that really could’ve used more dimensions. Arjona’s comments are encouraging, then, as they suggest Martine will have a lot going for her, even if she mainly factors into the plot because of her relationship with Morbius.
Other key supporting players alongside Arjona’s Martine include Matt Smith as villain Loxias Crown, an old friend of Michael’s who has the same blood disease, Jared Harris as Morbius’ mentor Emil Nikols, and Tyrese Gibson as Simon Stroud, an FBI agent hunting the living vampire down. Michael Keaton will also pop up as Vulture from the Spider-Man films.
After a ridiculous number of delays, Morbius finally hits cinemas this April 1.