This article contains spoilers for Moon Knight episode 5
The undisputed star of Moon Knight‘s fifth episode is hippopotamus goddess Taweret. Teased in the first episode via a cute plushie, Taweret is the Egyptian deity of childhood and fertility, here seen easing souls through the Duat to the Field of Reeds.
Tawaret was realized through CGI, with actor Antonia Salib both providing the voice and the motion capture performance. A new interview on Marvel.com with head writer Jeremy Slater and Salib has gone into detail on how this worked.
Slater began by confirming that there was a poster of Tawaret in the writer’s room, which made him determined to include her in the show:
Once I locked in that I needed that hippo in the show, then we knew that meant there’s probably some sort of journey to the Egyptian underworld. That gave us our big back-story episode. It gave me my weird swing. And most importantly, it got my favorite hippo into the show.
Salib also revealed she’d auditioned for the role with no idea she’d be playing a hippo god:
[The character] was a complete surprise. I knew I was auditioning for Marvel Studios and I knew it was for a lead — an Egyptian woman. They kind of gave me a fake name, and they had a dummy script. it was only once I was about to meet the director, and the casting team, they just mentioned, ‘By the way, you’re going to be a CGI hippo.’ I was like ‘OK, sounds great, let’s do it!’
Taweret is Salib’s first television role, though it seems the costume made it easy for her to get into character:
I wore these huge platform shoes…they were [supposed] to be hippo feet. There was this gorgeous scarab, and hieroglyphs carved into my costume. It was kind of a big breastplate that I wore around my neck. And I had several layers of feathers that plumed out. She’s a very fashionable goddess. [I had] these brilliant bracelets, and it was just beautiful, all gold. The joy of having this incredible costume, and these beautiful sets, was just that it really helped elevate me to this godly hippo status so that I rise to the role.
Salib goes on to explain the difficulties of acting as a CGI character. In order to accurately represent Taweret’s height, she had to perform with a motion capture pole with a tennis ball on top strapped to her back, which almost resulted in her wrecking the lighting rig dangling above her.
One other unique aspect was Salib acting opposite two Oscar Isaacs, though on set one was performed by Isaac’s brother Michael Benjamin Hernandez. From the sounds of it the process was quite straightforward though, with Isaac making the shoot a blast:
There were so many amazing people around. It was really nice that it was only Oscar and myself in certain scenes. You know he’s brilliant, and he was so welcoming leading this project. It was great to bounce off one another, and also his doubles, including his brother. We just had a lot of fun filming bringing very different energies and physicality. It was wild to see in person, it was great.
Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Taweret in the MCU. It’s likely she’ll reappear in the Moon Knight finale, though the response to her has been so positive maybe she’ll pop up in future projects unrelated to Moon Knight. Fingers crossed.
Moon Knight‘s finale will air on Disney Plus on May 4.