Actor Michael B. Jordan Bends The Rules Of Hollywood
The actor pulls double duty in "Red Tails" and "Chronicle"
In the matrix of Hollywood, actor Michael B. Jordan is an anomaly. He is bending Hollywood's unwritten rule that young black actors aren't marketable by starring in two of 2012's hottest films; in "Red Tails," the World War II drama, he plays Tuskegee Airman Maurice Wilson and he's also currently riding high on the success of the recently-released sci-fi thriller "Chronicle."
The journey to movie stardom has been a steady one for Jordan who started off doing commercials when he was 11 and landed a role, while still in high school, on All My Children playing opposite the iconic soap opera diva Erica Kane (Susan Lucci). He soon made the jump to primetime with stints on The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. More than just another pretty boy, Jordan has an innate charm which makes all his characters relatable, whether he's playing the neighborhood dope dealer or the star of the high school football team.
Loop 21 caught up with Jordan to discuss his role in "Chronicle" and what it feels like to be part of history with the groundbreaking "Red Tails."
Tell us about your "Chronicle" character Steve Montgomery:
Steve is Mr. All-American, running for Senior class president. He gets along with everybody - the geeks, the jocks, the introverts. He genuinely cares about people. It starts off small scale. They play around with their powers, then it segues into mischievous pranks. Then, as with teenagers that have responsibility, things spiral out of control and [the character] Andrew takes a turn for the worse.
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One of the things I liked about Steve’s character is that he didn’t fall into any typical racial stereotypes we see in movies - he is smart, charming, ambitious. As an actor of color, are you conscious of how black men are portrayed on the big screen when accepting a role?
Of course, that’s one of the reasons I was attracted to this role. It was originally written for a white guy, [a character named] Steve Kazinski. That’s why I fought for this role so bad, because it went against most of the stereotypes that are out there about young black men. That’s what I try to do with all my characters; if I get a role that could be stereotypical, I try to fight for the choices, to make the character relatable, no matter which walk of life they’re coming from.
The movie was shot in South Africa. Was that your first trip to Africa? What was the experience like?
Yes and it was an amazing experience. I have a tattoo of the African continent tattooed on my back, so I always planned on going. Cape Town is beautiful - the food, the people, the history. It was eye-opening for sure.
"Red Tails" opened at #2 and has grossed over $41 million dollars so far. How does it feel to be part of a movie that tells such an important story of American history?
It feels good. We shot that movie back in 2009, so for it to come out and do as well as it did with all the controversy and expectations, it feels great to be part of something so successful. It’s a surreal feeling, doing all these interviews for “Chronicle” and “Red Tails” at the same time, it’s just a really happy time in my life.
George Lucas said that when pitching “Red Tails” movie executives said black action stars just aren’t marketable, yet you’re in two movies doing just that. Do you feel that you’re proving them wrong?
Well, I am, but there’s just one. I mean a broken clock is right at least twice in one day. I plan to make that change. I’m about writing and creating, so we can have more material out there.
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