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Why Aquaman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II quit Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (and who he was replaced by)

Hollywood schedules are their own kind of magic.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta
Image credit: Warner Bros.

There are a shocking number of factors to consider when you’re casting a movie. High-profile actors might have multiple projects lined up at a time, meaning that any film they pick up needs to fit into a carefully planned schedule. Sometimes, those schedules come into conflict, which is why Yahya Abdul-Mateen II dropped out of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga early in its production.

Despite being announced as part of the cast in October 2020, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II eventually had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict. A year after he was named as one of the central characters, alongside Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Helmsworth, it was announced that Tom Burke would be joining the Furiosa cast in Abdul-Mateen II’s stead. But why would he drop out of such a big project in the first place?

The truth is that we don’t exactly know why Yahya Abdul-Mateen II eventually passed on playing the unnamed role in George Miller’s highly anticipated film. It is possible that the filming schedule for Furiosa, which wrapped up in November 2022, conflicted with the actor’s Broadway debut in Topdog/Underdog, which ran from October 2022 to January 2023. It is also possible that he wanted to clear time in his schedule to focus on his role as Wonder Man in the upcoming Disney+ series from Marvel Studios, though that project is reportedly stalled thanks to the Hollywood strikes this year. Maybe he just wanted to clear his schedule while he focused on reprising his role as Black Manta in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

While it seems likely that the actor wanted to prioritize his Broadway debut over playing in a production as demanding as Furiosa, we probably won’t ever find out the exact reason Yahya Abdul-Mateen II quit the project. That is unless either party decides to open up about it in the future.

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