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The Woman King's Brutal Training Regimen Brought Thuso Mbedu To Tears

"The Woman King" is finally here, and so far, critics and fans are responding with high praise (via Rotten Tomatoes). After its first weekend at the box office, the film earned about $19 million (via Deadline). The story is based on historical fact, focusing on The Kingdom of Dahomey, a powerful community in Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries. Dahomey protected its people through an elite army of warrior women known as the Agojie, and "The Woman King" tells the story of them and their leader, Nanisca (Viola Davis). However, the audience arguably views the movie through the lens of Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), a young woman of Dahomey that is offered to King Ghezo (John Boyega) after he disowns her for not agreeing to be the wife of a man that physically abused her.

In "The Woman King," Nawi has to undergo plenty of challenges and intense training to become part of the Agojie. Fans are witness early on in the movie to their incredible fighting abilities and strength to take down male warriors twice their size. It's clear that all of the actors who play members of the Agojie, like Davis, Lashana Lynch's Izogie, Sheila Atim's Amenza, Masali Baduza's Fumbe, and more had to train considerably for their roles to be able to perform the physical actions required. Davis explained while speaking on The Tonight Show that she even trained as long as five hours per day.

Mbedu recently revealed that the brutal training regimen even brought her to tears.

The strength training and hill sprints were more intense that Thuso Mbedu imagined

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter about her role as Nawi in "The Woman King," Thuso Mbedu explained that specifically, the strength training brought her to tears early on in preparation for the movie. "I was doing strength training with [lead trainer] Gabriela Mclain very early on, and I just remember crying. So she had to stop the session and talk me through it. It was a range of different things, and she completely understood why it felt the way that it felt in the moment," she explained. Mbedu continued that her sprinting coach, Jerome Davis, also had her doing hills to be prepared, which ultimately made her question her ability to portray Nawi authentically. "I would have to sprint uphill, and there was one day where I was just like, 'I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm going to be able to serve the character the way she needs to be served,'" she said.

However, Mbedu quickly overcame the struggle by thinking about her favorite anime series, and she developed a mentality very similar to that of Nawi. She explained that just like Nawi has always wanted to be an Agojie, she has always wanted to be part of an action movie. However, both Nawi and Mbedu were not prepared for the reality of the task. "It was brutal. But I had to get through it, and I did, just like the character," she said.