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Mabel Cadena Held Her Breath For Almost 7 Minutes Underwater For Wakanda Forever

Mabel Cadena made a strong impression as Namora, the fierce cousin of Namor (Tenoch Huerta), in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." The Mexican actor, who is new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), recalled to El País, "I was told that people of color don't look good, they aren't depicted that way, that they would never be superheroes."

Cadena seems proud to be flipping the script with the new "Black Panther" sequel, which features the African nation of Wakanda battling the Mesoamerican underwater civilization of Talokan, ruled by Namor. "Sometimes an image on screen is much more powerful than describing certain things," the actor commented.

Like many Marvel actors, Cadena had to do a lot of preparation for the role, including physical training and learning the Mayan language, calling her time working to play Namora a master class (via Yahoo! Life). But what fans really won't believe is how much she had to do for the underwater scenes.

She got very, very good at holding her breath

During an interview on "The Movie Podcast" alongside co-star Alex Livinalli, Mabel Cadena talked about the process of making "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." She was already a good swimmer, but as Livinalli said, "I never, never imagined what swimming for this would entail." 

This included dolphin kicks, freediving, and staying beneath the surface for long periods. Livinalli revealed that Cadena was the best at holding her breath underwater, gushing about her six-and-a-half-minute record.

Both actors made progress on their ability to hold their breath over the course of filming but didn't know what to expect from the movie itself. When they finally saw their scenes on-screen, Cadena actively gasped and pumped her fists. "The process was really hard. Working in the water is not easy," she recalled. But watching the movie and seeing the final result made it totally worth it for her.

Cadena has scars from the makeup process

Mabel Cadena had to sit in the makeup chair for six hours to become blue-skinned, and it took two hours to remove everything once shooting was finished for the day (via Pinkvilla). Alex Livinalli said, "It was a very lengthy process; from the moment that we walk in, sit on the chair, do the make-up, shoot, remove the make-up. It was a journey."

Getting the makeup off of the actors required using a special vapor. Cadena laughingly told Pinkvilla, "I have scratches [points at herself] in my skin from the colour." Livinalli confirmed, joking, "We've got scars that we can show how we got through this."

It's truly impressive that the actors went through so much work and training for their roles in the "Black Panther" sequel. But it seems to have been worth it, with Cadena calling the overall experience of playing the character "amazing."

Tenoch Huerta had to learn how to swim

This may come as a shock to Marvel fans who saw Namor confidently glide through the water in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," but Tenoch Huerta didn't know how to swim before making the movie (via Entertainment Weekly). When director Ryan Coogler offered Huerta the role, he also asked about his swimming abilities. At the time, Huerta told him, "I've never drowned before." The actor later told Entertainment Weekly, however, "I never lie! I never drowned before, so that's not a lie."

After accepting the part, Huerta took swimming lessons so he could handle the intense underwater scenes in the movie. In fact, the entire cast, even the actors playing Wakandans, practiced breath training and swimming, which ultimately helped all of them during battle sequences and the fight scenes set beneath the surface. Alex Livanilli certainly found the experience worth it, calling the end result "mind blowing" (via Collider).