The vast multiverse of Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse features dozens of animated variations on the web-slinging Marvel hero. But even with a running time of two and a half hours (and a second film, Beyond the Spider-Verse, slated for next summer), there’s not room for every riff on Spider-Man to make it into the final cut. A fan-favorite character who was almost left out of the adventure was Daniel Kaluuya’s ultra-cool British anti-hero Spider-Punk.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Across the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord, Chris Miller and co-director Kemp Powers recalled the process of casting Kaluuya as a web-slinging punk rocker. The filmmakers recalled thinking about dropping the character from the film – but ultimately expanded his role when they realized Kaluuya was a perfect fit for him.

“Some people asked, ‘Is there a way to simplify this?’ There are so many characters. Do we really need spider punk?’” Miller said. “But after we met Daniel, we rewrote the part to make it more necessary.”

“He was in and out of frame for a while,” added Lord. “We weren’t sure which elements we would keep in this part and which we would carry over to the next film.”

Lord explained that after meeting Kaluuya, they “realized that he had to be Hobie Brown, no matter the cost. And Hobie had to be in the film because that character had to be part of the story.”

As it turns out, Kaluuya had an impact on the character long before he was officially involved with the film. Powers explained that the animators used the Get Out star’s voice as a point of reference when developing early recreations of the character’s behaviors. After Kaluuya was cast for the role, adapting the animation to his voice acting went very smoothly.

“While we were working on the visual development of the character, we actually used audio clips from interviews with Daniel Kaluuya,” Powers said. “Daniel Kaluuya’s natural speaking voice matched the effortless cool we envisioned for the Hobie character from the start.”

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