“Remote piloting system, activated,” a familiar voice announces amid Black Panther’s climactic battle scene, just as Martin Freeman’s Everest Ross mans his virtual spacecraft. That artificial intelligence system, which Shuri (Letitia Wright) created, is named Griot, which is also a West African term for a storyteller. The actor who provided the voice work in both the original Marvel film, as well as in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is none other than Trevor Noah.
When the comedian stopped by NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in October 2022, he admitted that he still couldn’t believe that he voiced Griot. “These are rumors that I’ve been told,” the South Africa native joked after Fallon pointed out that not many people know he was a part of the film. “I think people just assume because it’s like, Wakanda, it’s from Africa, I’m from Africa, and people are just like, ‘You were there.’ I’m like, ‘No, I was in Africa.’ It’s similar, but it’s not the same.”
Though he wouldn’t “spoil” at the time that he would reprise the role in the Marvel sequel, Noah also had a great description for his character: “I’m basically, it’s like African Siri, that’s what I am,” quipped the outgoing host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Noah similarly downplayed his role before presenting at the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony when Black Panther was nominated for Best Picture. “I made a voice, that’s all I did,” he told E! News’ Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet. “I was essentially the navigation system of the spaceship.”
As for how he landed the part of Griot, Noah credited director Ryan Coogler, who reached out to him when he was researching Xhosa culture in South Africa for the first movie. “We became really good friends during the process, and then when he was making the film, he was like, ‘Hey, do you just want to do this random thing?’” Noah recalled to Seacrest. “And I was like, ‘Of course I want to do this random thing.’ I want to be the voice of anything on Black Panther. I would’ve been a tree in Wakanda. I would’ve done that proudly. I would’ve been tree number five in Wakanda.”
Earlier, in June 2018, Noah also described Coogler approaching him about the role, during an interview on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “I said, ‘No, no, no, I’ve got the Daily Show, and he said okay, I’ll get Chadwick Boseman,” he joked, adding that Coogler then asked him to “do the whole thing that Michael B. Jordan does.” Because the comedian didn’t want there to be too many six packs on set, he said he settled for the role of Griot.
“I’m like, ‘I will be the voice of the computer in the background, the computer that runs everything’ — every spaceship you see is me,” Noah told Colbert. “A lot of people think I just did the lines there, but I’m everything. I’m the ship as well. They got me in to play the ship.”
Though the last part was said in jest, yes, Noah really is the MCU’s voice of Griot.