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In 'Us,' Winston Duke channels Carl Winslow and Homer Simpson for corny dad vibes

"We wanted to convey a guy who can't solve the problems of the movie with his physicality," the actor said.
Image: Winston Duke Us
Winston Duke and Shahadi Wright Joseph in "Us "Claudette Barius / Universal Pictures

Warning: This article may contain spoilers.

Add actor Winston Duke's portrayal of Gabe Wilson, the patriarch in Jordan Peele's wildly successful horror flick "Us," to the list of corny on-screen dads.

Most audiences first met Duke as M'Baku, the buff, barking leader of the Jabari Tribe, in Marvel's "Black Panther." Yet Gabe is nothing like M'Baku. To make the transformation, the Trinidadian actor, 32, told NBC News that he had to shed his warrior body.

"He's a working-for-the-weekend kind of guy," Duke said. "He's a family man. He's not aesthetically driven. He has a lot of responsibilities that are outside of his looks. We wanted to convey a guy who can't solve the problems of the movie with his physicality."

In the film, which earned an estimated $70.3 million at the box office opening weekend, Gabe fumbles around Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and two kids, providing a bit of comic relief as they fight off the Tethered, their scary, red-suited doppelgängers who are out to kill them.

Gabe, who ultimately turns out to be a pretty helpless avenger in the film, wields a bat to confront the Tethered. He wears college sweaters — Gabe is an alumnus of Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., — and well, he had hundreds of filmgoers going crazy over that scene in which he shows a healthy dose of his thighs while trying to seduce his wife Adelaide, portrayed by Lupita Nyong'o. (Just search "Winston Duke thighs" on Twitter to see how thirsty everyone is for him.)

To channel that all-American, family guy vibe, Duke said he looked to 1990s television dads for inspiration, fashioning him after Homer Simpson, Uncle Phil from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Carl Winslow from "Family Matters" and Jason Seaver from "Growing Pains."

"He plays the clown function in the film," Duke said. "He is the comedic relief, and he speaks truth to power."

Perhaps that was never more clear when he declared "we can get crazy" to the tethered. But unlike a sitcom, those crazy antics weren't wrapped up in 30 minutes or less.