Category: Black Panther

Press: The Favourite, Black Panther Lead Critics’ Choice Awards Nominations

Press: The Favourite, Black Panther Lead Critics’ Choice Awards Nominations

Waking up to this news made me very happy. A huge congratulations to Michael B. Jordan and the rest of the Black Panther cast and crew for their amazing work on the film. Now lets bring it home for the win!

The period drama picked up 14 nods, while Black Panther followed up with 12.

The Favourite has run away with the Critics’ Choice Awards nominations. The darkly funny period drama, starring Olivia Colman as Queen Anne and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as warring cousins vying for royal attention, will lead the ceremony with a whopping 14 nominations, including nods for best picture, best actress (Colman), best supporting actress (Stone and Weisz), and best director (Yorgos Lanthimos).

The Favourite was followed closely by Marvel juggernaut Black Panther, which picked up 12 nods, including best picture, best acting ensemble, and best supporting actor (Michael B. Jordan). Damien Chazelle’s First Man, which seemed to lose some steam earlier in the awards race, came in third with 10 nods. Meanwhile, Mary Poppins Returns, A Star Is Born, and Vice followed with 9 nods apiece. While A Star Is Born has long been considered a front-runner this season, neither Vice nor Mary Poppins has yet hit theaters. Both, however, have slowly been gaining traction with critics and beyond, making a strong showing when Golden Globes nominations were announced; Vice ended up leading that field, with six nods total. And while the Globes are, well, the Globes, the Critics’ Choice nods offer a slightly more predictive glimpse at which films might might go all the way to the Oscars.

Speaking of films that might go all the way: Roma, which was named best picture on Sunday by both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Online, landed eight Critics’ Choice nominations. Alfonso Cuarón’s critically adored period drama, inspired by his Mexican upbringing in the 1970s, was painted as a best-picture front-runner early on in this awards race, and critics have been eager to prove the predictions right. Green Book, another early contender, landed seven nominations.

In the TV realm, HBO and Netflix tied with 20 nods apiece, thanks to the success of shows like Sharp Objects and One Day at a Time, respectively. Amy Adams stood out with two nods; one for her supporting turn in Vice, and one for her lead turn in Sharp Objects.

FX followed closely behind HBO and Netflix, with shows like The Americans and The Assassination of Gianni Versace picking up five crucial nods each. Meanwhile, Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora made a strong debut with five nods of its own. The full list of nominations can be read here. The Critics’ Choice Awards will air January 13, 2019 on the CW.

Source: Vanity Fair

Press: Michael B. Jordan Plays With Puppies While Answering Fan Questions

Michael B. Jordan (“Creed II”, “Black Panther”, “Friday Night Lights”) stops by to answer your questions about his career, workouts, and favorite anime – all with the help of some very furry friends. To learn more about these pups and others that are up for adoption, head to PacificPupsRescue.com

Press/Podcast: Michael B. Jordan Plus Best NBA Rookies and Wizards Chaos | The Bill Simmons Podcast

HBO and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons calls up his buddy Joe House to talk struggling NBA teams, NBA rookies, the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pay-per-view event, and NFL picks. Then Bill sits down with actor Michael B. Jordan to talk ‘Black Panther,’ his new film ‘Creed II,’ upcoming projects, and more.

Press: Why Michael B. Jordan Is More Than a Movie Star

Press: Why Michael B. Jordan Is More Than a Movie Star

This piece contains mild spoilers for “Creed II.”

In the third act of “Creed II,” the heavyweight champ Adonis Creed squares off in a rematch against Viktor Drago, the Ukraine-based boxer and son of the man who killed Adonis’s father in the ring three decades earlier. Bloodied and weary after several rounds — but ever the tenacious fighter — Adonis gathers the will to keep going with the encouragement of his coach and mentor, Rocky Balboa.

“I’m dangerous!” Adonis sputters through his swollen mouth, echoing the pronouncement he had given Rocky in an earlier scene, under vastly different circumstances.

It is the movie’s “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” the inspirational battle cry of the protagonist as he faces the challenge of his life. As said by the actor Michael B. Jordan, who delivers the line not with a guttural oomph but the eager-to-please fervor of a young kid hoping to impress his father, it doesn’t quite carry the intimidation the line seems to demand. Nevertheless, it is both endearing and invigorating — you just know Adonis is ready to conquer Viktor this time around.

It’s this moment that may help explain why, in the same year Jordan has received some of the most glowing reviews of his career for playing Killmonger in “Black Panther,” a debate has percolated on Reddit, Twitter and in everyday conversations among pop culture enthusiasts: Is Michael B. Jordan a good actor?

Where some see a fascinating interpretation of a supervillain, others see bad acting. Critics of Jordan say that he lacks the swagger and menace of the Killmonger character and that he appears to be reading off cue cards. (One of the movie’s most-discussed lines, “Just bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships — they knew death was better than bondage,” is usually held up as the prime example.) To some extent, I can understand these sentiments; like Adonis declaring himself “dangerous,” the idea of what Killmonger represents — a problematic, burn-it-all-down philosophy in the name of black empowerment — sometimes overpowers Jordan’s interpretation onscreen.

Still, the arguments made against his acting abilities more generally are perplexing: He doesn’t disappear into his roles (as Jamie Foxx did in “Ray”); he always plays the same character. Such critiques miss the point: Jordan has made it clear he desires to be a capital “M” Movie Star, along the lines of Will Smith (who himself has always been transparent about his box-office aspirations), not a character actor. “I want people to see me win,” he told The New York Times in a conversation alongside Denzel Washington earlier this year, adding, “I want to be the leading man.”

And there always have been actors who are considered great who aren’t chameleons like Christian Bale or Meryl Streep — you never forget you’re watching Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio or Cary Grant, but you are drawn in nonetheless.

Jordan’s strengths as an actor lie not in his ability to shock or scare or surprise — but in his willingness to be vulnerable and charismatic. These qualities have been evident as far back as his early breakthrough role as Wallace, a bright, baby-faced drug dealer in “The Wire.” Over the course of Season 1, Wallace looks after some of the younger abandoned children in the housing projects and experiences pangs of extreme guilt when his actions inadvertently lead to a murder. Jordan lent the character openness and sensitivity: He embodies the good-hearted kid who isn’t cut out for the ruthlessness of the drug trade, making his death at the hands of his childhood friends — and his pleas to them in those final moments — that much more heartbreaking.

In “Fruitvale Station” more than a decade later, his first major star turn and first collaboration with the director Ryan Coogler, Jordan portrayed Oscar Grant III, a young man who was killed by a police officer in Oakland, Calif., without painting him as a saint.

In one scene, we see Oscar interact with three people over the course of just a couple of minutes, and his demeanor shifts seamlessly between each exchange. He pleads with the manager of the grocery store where he once worked to rehire him, but quickly turns angry and combative when rebuffed, revealing Oscar’s desperation under dire financial straits. Left alone in the aisle, the camera lingers briefly on Oscar, contemplating the severity of his situation, before the voice of a woman he assisted earlier breaks through to thank him for his help; here he effortlessly turns on the charm. Finally, he greets his friend working the deli counter with a warm, genial familiarity, and lies about having convinced the manager to give him his job back.

As he finally exits the store and turns away from his friend, his smile fades, and a sense of helplessness washes over his face. These are subtle exchanges, but engrossing nonetheless — a brilliant, succinct depiction of everyday code switching, and it works mainly because Jordan carries it off so well.

“Creed II” takes the idiosyncrasies Jordan has honed in his onscreen persona throughout the course of his career and fully reveals the kind of actor he is capable of becoming. If not as surprisingly profound as its immediate predecessor, “Creed,” the latest “Rocky” installment portrays Adonis as an underdog despite being a heavyweight champ, a celebrated fighter who still has much to prove. He’s handsome and lovable, but not necessarily smooth, as seen in a lighthearted moment where Adonis nervously asks Bianca to marry him. He feels unsatisfied by his success.

In “Creed II,” Jordan shows how he can translate an array of emotions with just a look. When Adonis and Bianca await the results of a test for their newborn daughter, Jordan displays anxiety, fear and an overwhelming sense of sadness at the recognition of what may be ahead for his family.

Giving such a performance in a crowd-pleasing sequel positions Jordan in the realm of other actors he has name-checked as having the careers he wishes to emulate: Washington, Smith, Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio. You can see a bit of each of those actors in Jordan’s career moves so far — the transition from troubled youth roles into hunky A-lister (DiCaprio in “The Basketball Diaries,” and later “Titanic” and “The Departed”); the prestigious boxing part requiring tremendous physical transformation (Washington in “The Hurricane” and Smith in “Ali”); ventures into the realm of sci-fi/fantasy (Cruise in “War of the Worlds,” “Minority Report”).

It’s rare these days for actors to open movies on the strength of their names and charming personas alone, but in developing a respected partnership with Coogler — like Washington and Spike Lee, and DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese — and starting his own production company to create the roles he wants, Jordan has molded himself into a performer who takes on prestigious projects that also play up his good looks.

Whether this leads down the path of Oscar nods — still Hollywood’s ultimate marker of having made it, however superficially — remains to be seen. But when he taps into his sensitivity, turns on the charm and lays his feelings bare in any given moment, he’s electrifying.

Source: NY Times

Press: Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson admit they’ve played with their Marvel action figures

Press: Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson admit they’ve played with their Marvel action figures

Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson have effortless chemistry as Adonis and Bianca in the Creed franchise, and recently displayed that chemistry for EW’s cover shoot celebrating the release of Creed II.

But the pair have more in common than Creed. They also both play characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — Jordan starred as Killmonger in Black Panther, and Thomspon took on the role of Valkyrie for Thor: Ragnarok. And one of the many perks of being part of the MCU is that you get your own action figures. When asked if they’ve played with their own figurines, they both responded affirmatively.

“I have mine in my kitchen above the sink so I see her when I wash dishes,” Thompson said, and hers isn’t the only one she’s collected. “Other women friends of mine, if they have one, I have a girl gang. There’s Lupita [Nyong’o, as Nakia from Black Panther]. There’s Evan Rachel Wood from Westworld.” One action figure was notably absent from Thompson’s collection, though. “I don’t have Killmonger, I’m so sorry,” Thompson confessed to Jordan. Jordan said he doesn’t have Valkyrie either. “I’ll give it to you,” Thompson told him. “I have an extra one.”

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Press: Michael B. Jordan, now a Hollywood heavyweight, punches up

Press: Michael B. Jordan, now a Hollywood heavyweight, punches up

“Creed II,” which opened in theaters Wednesday, finds Michael B. Jordan’s character, Adonis Creed — like the actor, himself — adjusting to his newfound prominence: reaching the pinnacle of his profession while still having to fight for what he believes in. Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures

NEW YORK — If Michael B. Jordan’s path to this moment was condensed and edited, it might look, appropriately, like a training montage.

Images of Jordan cutting his teeth on the Baltimore streets of “The Wire” and the Texas football fields of “Friday Night Lights,” followed by hints of a soaring talent (“Red Tails,” “Chronicle”), shattering breakthroughs (“Fruitvale Station”) and setbacks (“Fantastic Four”) before reaching, with a pair of haymakers (“Creed,” “Black Panther”), heavyweight status.

Parallel to Jordan’s steady rise has been the 31-year-old’s expanding sway behind the scenes in Hollywood. His production company, Outlier Society Productions, was among the first to embrace the inclusion rider, adopting the pledge to seek diverse casts and crews just days after Frances McDormand referenced it at the Oscars. Jordan was also influential on a similar agreement by WarnerMedia, making Warner Bros. the sole major studio thus far to sign up.

“He’s always been a big-idea guy,” says Ryan Coogler, who directed Jordan in “Fruitvale Station,” “Creed” and “Black Panther.” “He’s always been conscious of his own responsibility.”

“Creed II,” which opened in theaters Wednesday, finds Jordan’s character, Adonis Creed — like the actor, himself — adjusting to his newfound prominence: reaching the pinnacle of his profession while still having to fight for what he believes in. As Steven Caple Jr.’s boxing drama prepared to open in theaters, Jordan went door-to-door in Georgia urging people to vote in the midterm elections.

“You’ve been doing one thing for 20 years. Constantly working at it, trying to grow and become successful, or whatever your version of success is. And then you have a moment in time where everything seems to be coming together at the same time. Everything seems to be happening. But you live in a society, in a world that’s kind of going to (expletive),” Jordan said in a recent interview. “So to be able to use one to help the other, is something. To try to find your voice.”

It’s an answer with shades of Jordan’s typical performance: earnest, thoughtful, tinged with pain. Then he exhales.

“I don’t know, man,” says Jordan. “Honestly, there’s a lot going on right now and I’m trying to find my place in all of it, professionally and personally.”

A big part of Jordan’s quest was “Black Panther,” in which he played Erik Killmonger. The part is ostensibly a villain, but in Jordan’s hands, Killmonger — a wounded, fatherless warrior bent on reparations through violence — has a depth uncommon if not outright alien to comic-book films. Between Killmonger and the Wakanda leader T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is a larger dialogue, one fraught with history, between African identity and the African diaspora.

“Making a movie, you rarely come out the other side the same. You either grow or regress. I came out a different man,” says Coogler. “The conversation that was had between T’Challa and Killmonger, what it means to be African — I didn’t know I needed that movie as much as I did until after I made it. I look back and I say: ‘Man, I really needed that. I needed that conversation.'”

The performance has made Jordan one of this year’s leading supporting actor contenders for the Academy Awards. Coogler praises his friend’s vulnerability in a complicated role.

“He was one of the few African-American characters and he was carrying the weight of that cultural representation,” says Coogler. “Mike brings a lot of the empathy with him, as a person and as a performer. That’s one of the things that makes him special. Almost as soon as you see him, you empathize with him.”

“Black Panther,” the year’s biggest domestic blockbuster and most resonant cultural event, left a mark on Jordan.

“Playing Killmonger, carrying that oppression, that feeling of being a representation of the African diaspora, I felt a certain pressure and responsibility to get it right. That was a very maturing process for me,” Jordan says. “To be very unapologetic, I had to play that role.”

A sequel to the acclaimed 2015 spinoff (it grossed $173.6 million worldwide on a $35 million budget), “Creed II” was fast-tracked by MGM in part to capitalize on the success of “Black Panther” and Jordan’s growing profile. Caple, whose feature debut was the 2016 indie film “The Land,” had his first meeting with producers around Thanksgiving last year. By the first week of January, he was in Philadelphia getting ready to shoot.

Caple preserved and expanded upon Coogler’s naturalistic approach, and the film’s best scenes unlock raw intimacies outside the ring. Especially notable is the chemistry between Jordan and Tessa Thompson, who plays Adonis’ girlfriend (“Mike feeds off of Tessa a lot,” says Caple), and the surprising pathos of the father-son relationship between Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). In an echo of “Rocky IV,” the younger Drago is Adonis’ foe this time.

Caple credits Jordan for the film’s emotional authenticity.

“He’s genuine. Then you meet him in person and you realize he’s the same way in real life. You can’t act that or fake that. He used that as a vehicle to get where he is today,” says Caple. “Right now, he’s expanding on that with his business, with his production company, with his brand, and still being for the people in many ways.”

Jordan recently finished shooting “Just Mercy,” in which he stars as civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson. The Warner Bros. production was the first Jordan made with the inclusion policy in place.

“The set, the crew was very diverse, all very capable. It was a great experience. Hopefully other studios and other productions will follow our lead and demand the same thing from their sets,” says Jordan. “Change takes time. It’s a small step, but it’s the first step. I’m not expecting Rome to be built in a day.”

Source: Chicago Daily Herald

Press: What Michael B Jordan Thinks About Black Panther’s Oscar Chances

Press: What Michael B Jordan Thinks About Black Panther’s Oscar Chances

Black Panther made more than $1.3 Billion at the box office. It was given a positive review by 97 percent of critics. Many industry insiders have also already cited its success as a potential watershed moment for Hollywood to start approving more diverse movies and giving them substantially higher budgets. By basically any metric you want to look at, the film has to be viewed as a raging success, and yet, with the Oscars on the horizon, Black Panther stars are starting to get questioned about potential nominations, what they would mean and whether the film needs to perform with Academy Awards voters to truly get to the next level of legitimacy.

Rising star Michael B Jordan is the latest to address the rhino in the room during a recent interview with Essence, and I think his comments are very telling…

“The movie has done such a great job, broke through so many glass ceilings, and made such an impact culturally and around the world. If the Academy chooses to recognize that project for all of those reasons that’s amazing icing on the cake, but I think what the movie has done so far is truly incredible and a win all its own. I felt so accomplished doing this movie, but it’s not up to me to validate the film. So the people who make those decisions, that’s something they have to think about and figure out on their own.”

Very few people go all-in on their own movie’s Oscar chances prior to the nominations. It’s considered a little taboo to campaign too overtly (although some like Melissa Leo have famously just gone for it), and I suspect many people worry about what might happen if they try too hard and don’t get there. But there’s something larger in play with Marvel movies too. All the MCU flicks combined have only been nominated for a total of 10 Oscars, 8 of which have come in the ‘Visual Effects’ category. None of those nominations have resulted in a win. So, I’m sure I would be squeamish too, but Black Panther isn’t just a normal Marvel movie.

Even if you strip away all the buzz around it, the visuals, the costumes, the effects and many of the other below the line details of the film are really, really good. Disney is reportedly planning to push the film really hard, even at the expense of Avengers: Infinity War and even in some of the buzzier categories like Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Even the music categories are very much in play.

I have no idea if any of those more talked about categories will pay off, but whether you think the movie was as good as advertised or not, I think most of us would agree the people who worked on creating the spectacle and the wonder behind Wakanda deserve to be recognized.

So, here’s to hoping this quote, in retrospect, comes off like a classy underplay from Michael B Jordan rather than fitting uncertainty for yet another unrecognized Marvel movie.

Source: CinemaBlend

Press/Radio Interview: Michael B. Jordan On His Ultimate Goal, Industry Diversity And ‘Creed II’

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with actor Michael B. Jordan as he bookends his year in movies with a return as boxer Adonis Johnson in the sequel Creed II.

TRANSCRIPT

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This year, Michael B. Jordan has clearly brought his A game. He stole the show in “Black Panther” with his charismatic turn as Erik Killmonger, the villain in a superhero movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “BLACK PANTHER”)

MICHAEL B. JORDAN: (As Erik Killmonger) Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage.

CORNISH: And now he’s taking another swing at the box office with “Creed II.” It’s the follow-up to the “Rocky” movie franchise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “CREED II”)

JORDAN: (As Adonis Johnson) You want to talk about smart decisions, Rock. You in this house all alone. Who been taking care of you? Me. I’ve been here for you.

CORNISH: In this film, his character, Adonis Creed, is a champion boxer with a chip on his shoulder. The son of Apollo Creed of the “Rocky” films, Adonis is trying to define his own legacy. Jordan says, at one point, he too had a chip on his shoulder but for a different reason.

JORDAN: Being named Michael Jordan – I think growing up playing sports and having a name like Michael Jordan, and I was extremely competitive, I used to get teased a lot. But it made me want to strive for greatness and be able to compete at whatever I decided to do. So…

CORNISH: That seems like a good kind of teasing, though. Like, how did it play in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?

JORDAN: I mean, I wanted to change my name, at one point.

CORNISH: Oh, really?

JORDAN: I mean, kids are brutal. You know, I think – you know, it seems like the world is crashing down around you when you were – you know, when you’re 11 years old or 12 years old and you’re getting, like – you know, you’re teased about your name. Like, I didn’t develop that self-confidence just yet.

CORNISH: He’s since made up for it. He goes by Michael B Jordan. The B is for Bakari, and he’s no longer content with just mastering the world of acting. The 31-year-old has been working in the industry since he was a preteen, appearing in everything from “All My Children” to “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights.” Now he has his own production company, Outlier Society Productions. I asked him what is his ultimate goal – mogul, movie star, what?

JORDAN: Oh, man – world domination.

CORNISH: Yeah, I believe it. That’s why I’m asking (laughter).

JORDAN: Yeah, it’s something like that. I never use my age as a handicap, you know? It’s like, oh, you’re too young to do this or, you know, you haven’t had enough experience to do that. And, you know, I did “Friday Night Lights” and I got a chance to really spend a lot of time with the producers and directors and the showrunner and just learning the inner workings of a show, you know, the production, how to put things together. And once I saw the formula, I was like, oh, I could do that.

And then I just started spending time with friends that were like-minded and believed in the same thing. And we just started to develop things. I started to accumulate IP, whether it’d be a newspaper article or a graphic novel or a book or something. You know, I was always just acquiring things, waiting for the moment of somebody to ask me, well, what do you want to do next? And like, oh, wow…

CORNISH: And this is intellectual property that – meaning that the source of story ideas that people use for movies.

JORDAN: Oh, I’m sorry.

CORNISH: No, now we’re getting into the real good stuff because you’re speaking your natural language, which is business.

JORDAN: Yeah. It’s a question I always ask myself. You know, growing up into this industry, auditioning for projects when I was younger and always seeing the usual suspects, we almost felt like we were pitted against each other like it was a competition when it shouldn’t be…

CORNISH: Meaning you’d see the same actors over and over, and you guys are competing for, you know, troubled teen three.

JORDAN: For one role – exactly – for the same role. And then, you know, if you’re booking, then you’re becoming successful, but everybody else is looking at you like, oh, man. Like, you’re taking, you know, almost food out my mouth, and it shouldn’t be like that, you know? It’s because there’s a lack of roles. There’s just not enough out there. So I’ve always had the notion of create the roles, you know, not the stereotypical roles. You know, I told my agency at a younger age earlier in my career, like, I only wanted to go out for roles that were written for Caucasian males because I knew the roles had no bias on it. It was just…

CORNISH: But how’d that go? When you showed up to the room, was the casting agent doing a double take or what was the deal?

JORDAN: No, it was so welcomed, you know. It was almost like some people I think were almost shocked that I was taking that position. My agency always kind of backed me and believed in what I was doing and knew and understood the strategy behind it. You know, I’ve been extremely blessed. Man, it’s – everything that I’ve ever wanted has happened. And I know it’s not usually like that, so I understand, you know, the fortunate position that I’m in.

CORNISH: I – one other thing I want to ask about. You announced last year that you would adopt inclusion riders on your projects. And people may have heard about this from Frances McDormand, the actress who gave this really impassioned speech at the Academy Awards where she talked about this idea that you can put a clause in your contract that says there needs to be diversity in hiring on the project that I am in. I don’t know if other people answered the call, but for you as someone who owns a production company, what’s been the reality of trying to make that happen?

JORDAN: People have been very receptive. I think taking the moment that I have and the heat that I’m generating right now in demanding things – and that’s the confidence that – it’s new, you know, in the last year or so. But, yeah, you know, my first project, you know, under the inclusion rider was “Just Mercy,” the story of Bryan Stevenson. I just got finished filming in Atlanta. And it looked and felt like a set that I’ve always wanted to have, you know, before there was an inclusion rider.

Like, that would have been second nature for me. I would have hired women. I would’ve hired, you know, people with disabilities. I would’ve hired people of color. As a black man, that’s not something that we needed to have on paper. And being able to partner up with Warner Brothers media and help work and build that policy for them is a major deal for me. You know, it’s part of entertainment history. You know, to have that so early in my career, so early in my life is a big deal for me.

CORNISH: I grew up like you around the same period, ’80s and ’90s, and I feel like I grew up with the hip-hop mogul. And this is probably the first time I’ve heard of an actor really thinking in that same way.

JORDAN: That’s powerful.

CORNISH: You know what I mean?

JORDAN: No, I know exactly what you’re saying.

CORNISH: Like, those guys were like, we need to own our content. We need to own our thing. We need to control whatever aspects of it we can control. But you didn’t really hear that that much in acting because there was always just, like, one guy who was the famous black guy at any given time.

JORDAN: Well because there – we’re still very much so the minority, you know? I think with music, we dictate culture. I think with sports, we dictate culture. I think with film and television, we’re still defining ourselves. We still have, you know, getting out of thinking of a black cinema, black films – no, film. You know what I’m saying? Like, I’m trying to get to the point where it’s the norm. We don’t have to classify it as just black this, black that. You don’t hear anybody saying white film. And I’m just taking the steps that I see that I feel like are the right moves in order to get there. It may not happen in my lifetime and I’m cool with that because I’m working on a blueprint, a foundation. That’s what legacy is about. You’re defined by who you put on, what opportunities have you given to somebody else. Because I’m not going to be in every movie. I’m not that guy. I enjoy putting other people on. I enjoy creating roles and opportunities for people. Like, that’s just my thing.

I look at the first to do things, you know, and I see what went wrong. What did they do? What was the approach? What was the social climate like? What other things are happening on in the world that allowed that to happen that supported that change? And what are things – what was the pushback? What was the resistance around that change? And I try to tweak it as much as I can. That’s probably why I don’t sleep. I have all these…

CORNISH: (Laughter).

JORDAN: I’m always…

CORNISH: I believe that. I can picture you lying in bed saying all of these things plotting world domination.

(LAUGHTER)

JORDAN: Because I’m willing to sacrifice right now. I told myself that my 20s would be sacrificed for work and the 30s I was going to chill out, but I was like no. I still got things to do. I can’t let up off the gas.

CORNISH: Well, Michael B. Jordan, this was fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

JORDAN: Oh, very smart questions. I love your conversation – any time.

CORNISH: Michael B. Jordan – his new film, “Creed II,” opens today.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “THE FIRE”)

THE ROOTS: (Singing) There’s something in your heart, and it’s in your eyes. It’s the fire inside you.

Source: NPR

Press/Video: Michael B. Jordan On Being A Sex Symbol, ‘Black Panther II’ Rumors + Remembering Stan Lee

MBJ sat down with Ebro in the Morning to promote Creed II. They discussed his thoughts being a sex symbol, whether his character Erik Killmonger will be back for the Black Panther sequel, the death of Stan Lee, and his upcoming projects.

Press: Can Barrier-Breaking ‘Black Panther’ Become The First Superhero Movie Nominated For Best Picture?

Press: Can Barrier-Breaking ‘Black Panther’ Become The First Superhero Movie Nominated For Best Picture?

Black Panther has risen to plenty of challenges, shattering every expectation to far surpass the ticket sales of any film by a Black director, with a cast populated by African and African-American performers, on its way to a $1.3 billion global gross. But there’s one challenge remaining: can the film overcome a clear Academy prejudice and get a fair shake as a Best Picture candidate?

It’s a prejudice that, for once, is nothing to do with race. If history is a guide, what Black Panther must overcome is the kneejerk reaction of Academy voters to dismiss superhero movies outright. If it gets its Best Picture nomination, it’d be a first. Not even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy cracked that recognition, even as it spurred the Academy to broaden the Best Picture category from five to a possible 10 nominees. The challenge facing Marvel and Disney this season is preventing Black Panther from being marginalized as just another high roller in the Marvel Cinematic Universe assembly line. It is so much more.

Beyond the big business, Black Panther is as landmark for the superhero genre as Get Out was for horror, tackling deep-seated issues, often for the first time in mainstream cinema. When Wakandan king T’Challa addresses countries at the UN about nations building bridges and not barriers, it’s hard not to see his speech as an answer to Trump’s isolationism.

Among the bona fides worth considering this awards season: after playing color barrier-breakers Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall, Chadwick Boseman brings the same quiet dignity to T’Challa, convincingly infusing intellect and physicality to a character first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in recognition of the changing world of 1960s Civil Rights reforms. Both in front of and behind the camera, Black Panther featured a strong contingent of women, like production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who indelibly stamped the film as a celebration of African culture and created a living, breathing world in Wakanda. Michael B. Jordan, making his third film with Ryan Coogler after Fruitvale Station and Creed, left an indelible mark as Erik Killmonger, turning the grudge-holding cousin of T’Challa and rival for the Wakandan throne into a whirlwind of rage without making himself a scenery-chewer.

Black Panther’s living, breathing scale comes from its depiction of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, which brims with technological advancement and a profound connection to its imagined history and culture.

But what may not be evident on screen—except in the most subconscious ways—is how profoundly everybody involved in its creation invested pieces of their personal journeys into Black Panther. As they searched for their own identities as African-American descendants of the continent of Africa, theirs is a celebration of a place so often depicted as volatile or violent. In the mix are subtle infusions of the Black Power movement, the unforgivable history of the slave era and the ravaging of Africa’s natural resources. All that wrapped up in a Marvel movie destined for maximum reach.

Ryan, what did you see as the biggest opportunity—and challenge—of taking the reins of a film of this scale, tackling issues this deep-seated while addressing a huge audience?

Ryan Coogler: A lot of the challenge was personal. I had only done two feature films so far and never worked with a budget this large. Beyond the subject matter, just that alone is enough to stress you out. Then, a studio that hadn’t really had a film that didn’t work in a business and critical sense, and not wanting to be the one who failed in trying to get the theme right.

Which theme?

Coogler: For all of us, it was: what does it mean to be African? When I was approached, I had never been to the continent. Even though my ancestors are from there, I view myself through the lens of being African from an African-American context and being part of the diaspora. I wanted so badly to get that right and questioned if I was the right person for the job. The insecurity I felt all the way through the process stemmed from one or all of those things. Each day, we conquered those things by bringing on people, our key collaborators, department heads, and eventually our cast. We shared the burden of all of those things, and through our own individual perspectives, we got through it together.

What was your connection to Africa before you started this? Stories told by your parents as you grew up in Oakland, CA?

Coogler: Yeah. When you come from where I’m from, the way you learn about the continent is through your elders and usually in the context of the slavery conversation. The “how did we get here?” conversation is something that is alluded to in the start of our film.

With the short history that introduced the Black Panther Africa mythology through drawings that included slave ships?

Coogler: Yeah. The tough part about it is, you find out you’re learning about this place from people who haven’t been there themselves, due to circumstance. I remember having conversations about the continent with my grandmother, who’s 90 now and just had a chance to go a few months ago. She lived her entire life up to that point in the United States, so you’re hearing about a place through her idealized lens; an almost fantastical lens because it’s often the flipside to the deepest negative story you could have, which is the story of how we actually got here. So you hear about this other place that has to be counterbalanced as being beautiful and perfect and peaceful; the idealized version of Africa that lives in the head of a lot of African-Americans, especially when you’re young. And one that runs contrary to what I saw in the media about the continent—overwhelmingly negative stuff—when I was growing up. It was never the full story. So there was definitely an emotional connection; one of pride, one of mystery, and also one of shame when you look at how it’s portrayed.

Before writing the script with Joe Robert Cole, you spent almost a month in Africa. Will Smith once said he didn’t understand how Africa had changed Muhammad Ali until Smith went over there to prepare to play him. What did that trip mean to your own search for identity, and the formation of the film?

Coogler: Growing up African-American, there’s an anger that exists in you, the more knowledge that you get about history and what happened to your ancestors. On this quest, you find out why you didn’t grow up in this place, one that tends to be hostile towards people who look like you, and towards your culture. So I guess I had 29 years’ worth of that anger and this deep sense of loss. Because the African-American culture that we have, it’s something we built from scraps. We were cut off from our religion, from our language on the continent. Systematically, that was broken and then what we call African-American culture, is kind of bastardized in what you’re taught by white media. You’re taught that from other Black people and when you come in contact with Africans from that continent that you are different, and not really a part of its history.

So when I actually went to the continent for the first time, what surprised me most was that I found I had so much in common with people from the continent. I spent time with Lupita’s family in Kenya. I went to South Africa first, and it blew my mind that I looked so much like the people there. If I closed my mouth and didn’t talk, people would come up to me and speak their own native languages and expect me to answer. That was extremely moving. I discovered that a lot of the rituals and cultural practices we’re doing as African-Americans, they are originally from the continent, and my ancestors actually did hold on to them. They call it different names but we still hold parts of that in our history, our heritage. It replaced a lot of that anger I felt with hope. It put me at ease and made me feel like I had a bigger family than I ever thought I did.

And changed your sense of self-identity?

Coogler: Absolutely. Yeah. Afterwards, I came home and took… you ever heard of that African Ancestry site?

Lupita Nyong’o: Ancestry.com?

Coogler: Not that one.

Michael B. Jordan: The 23andMe one?

Nyong’o: Oh, the AfricanAncestry.com one that Chadwick is always talking about.

Coogler: Yeah. Chad put me on it. They have a huge database of ethnic genetic information from the continent and they compare and contrast it to the information you give with a swab. They can tie you to different ethnic groups and tell you where your ancestors most likely were from. It turns out my wife [Zinzi Evans] and I found out that I’m from the Tikar people from Cameroon and that her people were Tikar as well. On my other side, I’m Yoruba from Nigeria. It was crazy to find that out.

The film just connected me to that continent. We all tried to tap into that feeling with this film; we talked about it all the time on the set. We had many different people from the two continents, and everybody had a stake in the film and a sense that this had got to be right because our families were going to watch this. People I’m connected to are going to see this. It has got to tell our story and tell it with authenticity and dignity.

Lupita, when you were growing up in Kenya, aspiring to do the things you’re doing now, how did the movies you watched influence your sense of self-identity?

Nyong’o: You’d be surprised how prevalent American cinema is around the world. I grew up watching predominantly American cinema and British television. And Mexican television. A lot of my influences were foreign, and worlds I did not know. I grew up watching Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal and Bruce Lee, because we had a lot of these fantastical action films. I also grew up watching The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. When you watch things from other worlds it expands your imagination and it connects you to humanity in a more empathetic way because you’re experiencing people that look nothing like you and yet they’re going through things that you’re going through. Like the Von Trapp children, who can’t get their father to pay them attention. I felt that way about my dad, you know.

What’s the impact of consuming culture that largely excludes you?

Nyong’o: It draws the world closer to you, but what it also does is it estranges you from yourself because you do not have the opportunities to see yourself reflected on screen. It breeds this idea that to be something else is better than to be yourself. So you’re striving and aspiring for things that are totally out of your grasp. A film like this was so important and so vital for me to be a part of and to commit to, because it was offering a mirror that I just never had.

I went to Nigeria in May, shortly after the film came out. Black Panther was still in the cinema. That longevity doesn’t happen on the continent. It’s not our primary source of entertainment, because watching films in cinemas is extremely expensive. But people were going in droves. I met people who went with their mother, their grandmother, and their children. It was totally bringing in different generations.

One man in his 60s turned to me and said, “I am so mad because I didn’t know I needed that; a reflection of myself.” It was such a powerful validation to so many, including me, who worked on it. What I think then it does for people who are not Black and who are not African is that it offers them the opportunity that Jackie Chan and Steven Seagal offered me. To see we are not any different. So it’s so important to have that cross pollination and that’s what this film did.

I grew up a white Marvel Comics kid and never thought about how it would be to not see heroes who share my skin color. The overwhelming success of Black Panther might change that for future generations. Michael and Ryan, you guys were also comic book kids. How did a lack of Black characters make you feel, and what did Black Panther mean to you as the rare exception?

Coogler: That’s how I found Black Panther. I was into comics, coming up in the late-’80s, early-’90s, and there was a comic book shop right across the street from my elementary school. We would go there in between school and basketball practice. We would read the books. We didn’t have money to buy them, but they’d let us thumb through them. I went in and asked the guy, “Are there any Black comic book characters in here?” I really was searching for it and that’s how I found out about Panther. He took me over and showed me some issues that Panther was in. He kind of pitched me who he was and so I learned about him at an early age, literally seeking out—there wasn’t a word for it yet, but representation—I was looking for it there. That’s how I found him.

Jordan: Similar thing for me, but I didn’t have a place like that. I watched the X-Men cartoons—Saturday morning cartoons—and that got me into comic books. There was a pool hall in Montclair, New Jersey. My dad would take me, and he would teach me how to shoot pool. There was a comic book store downstairs right next to an old Blockbuster Video store where we would rent movies and stuff. That was our tradition. He would take me and my little bro to go play pool and we would stop downstairs and grab a movie and I could get a comic book. I’d go through them and try to find different things I liked. Black Panther was one of them because he was one of the few that looked like me. Black Panther and Bishop [from X-Men]. Bishop was one of my favorite characters growing up.

Coogler: With the mullet and the curl and the tat on his face?

Jordan: Yeah. Those were ones that I really connected with. Black Panther was just always that dude. I guess at that age you are not really connecting the dots with the whole representation aspect, and it wasn’t something I knew I needed at that time, but once I realized that’s what I was missing out on…

Now that I’m making films, I want to produce and create more projects that are aspirational. A guy like me could be a doctor, an astronaut. So when this project came up, everything was magnified. It was an intense feeling; an opportunity even if wasn’t so specific or articulated. But a feeling that this generation needs to see themselves on the screen because this is what it’s going to do for them. This Halloween, we saw all these young kids, women, little girls and boys dressed as Killmonger or Nakia. You feel like, man, this is what they’ve been waiting for. They didn’t even know they needed this. They didn’t understand what representation could do for a person, in moving forward and having dreams. Lupita, when did you become aware of Black Panther?

Nyong’o: When Chadwick got cast. Back in 2014. I was like, “Oh, there’s a Black superhero? That’s cool.” It goes back to the difference for me when we talk about being aware of people that look like you in the media and it being so rare. I loved comic books but I grew up reading Tintin and Popeye. I grew up in a predominantly Black world, but in my little child mind anything worth writing about was white. I remember drawing my family and coloring them with beige because all my children’s books had beige characters. I thought that was how you draw. That’s how unaware I was of how warped it was. Those were the images that I had. My dream to want to be an actor was born really young. I watched The Sound of Music and said, “I want to be her!” I had no problem connecting with people that didn’t look like me. Until I saw The Color Purple and I’m like, “Wait a minute, these people look exactly like me. They have kinky hair like mine.” Sometimes the hunger to see yourself is totally silent and unconscious until you finally see it, and then it’s like a floodgate opens.

Jordan: You want to make up for lost time. You want to catch up to that.

Nyong’o: I had no problem, because I didn’t grow up in a country whose structure was racial in the same way that America is. So the ability to connect was straightforward until such a time that it wasn’t. There’s a lot of hurt when it comes to all African peoples. [Ryan and Michael] have explained the African-American situation. For Africans, Africa has been a continent that has been exploited often, in all sorts of ways. A lot has been taken from the continent and one thing that Africa does not receive is the acknowledgment for the things it has contributed, way back to the origins of the world as we know it today. This goes in all areas. You’re talking resources. You’re talking culture. You’re talking art. All of it. I grew up with a deficit of an appreciation for my culture. There is also a lot of condescension that we experience from the world. There’s a lot of, I would say, underestimation from people from the continent and it’s something that we grapple with all the time.

Coogler: There’s surprise when someone sees you’re intelligent.

Nyong’o: Like, “You mean there are skyscrapers on the continent? Wait a minute, you’ve got Wi-Fi?” Even though, right now, mobile commerce in Africa is more advanced than it is here for certain. There is also a very comfortable ignorance that people are never called on. It’s not OK to not know about England and the River Thames, but the idea that you’d know anything about the Nile and where it starts and where it ends, that’s not expected of anyone in the world. Even to this day I hear doctors that refer to Africa as a country. We had to grapple with a narrative of a country that has isolated itself from the continent, and from the world, and what does that mean for an African nation to turn its back on its own continent? But it is also self-loving and…

Jordan: Independent.

Nyong’o: And totally independent. There’s something very aspirational about that. The fact that you could have a completely contemporary, traditional society that is operating on a level that is aspirational for everybody else. That was the healing factor. That’s the thing that I feel we wanted to make sure we highlighted and celebrated, that in a sense this is an incubator for an Africa that will never exist but one that we can reclaim in our minds and aspire to be. Bringing those sensitivities to the table to make a film representative of African peoples—both African and African-American—that both parties would watch and feel like it was authentic to their story. We were successful in that. When I was in Nigeria, an elderly man said to me, “How are my cousins Boseman and Jordan?” I’ve never heard that sentiment before. In a sense, the film allowed us to meet in the middle of the Atlantic, saying we are cousins. We are related and there is a connection to be made and to be fostered.

Michael, Killmonger was a much more grounded and layered villain than we’re used to in superhero cinema. What went into keeping him from being a one-dimensional bad guy?

Jordan: I can’t take credit for that. It was all the research and work Ryan and Joe Robert Cole put into crafting this character, understanding the pain that we have because we are African-American and we’re here. Erik became a product of his environment, he’s what circumstance and his country made him. As a kid he heard stories of Wakanda, this place he’s never been to, that is in his blood, but which he doesn’t even really know exists because he is in Oakland. How could Wakanda exist for someone like me?

That hope being taken away from him at a very young age sent him down a path of where he decided to become the best version of himself under his circumstances, and he’s going to find this place by any means necessary. If you have empathy for Killmonger, it’s because you understand his motive. You understand how much pain he has in this heart, and that he wants the injustice done to him to be heard. He doesn’t care if he dies. He had to make an impact on T’Challa. At the end of the movie, you see him go back into Oakland and buy those buildings. So Killmonger did win, in my eyes. It wasn’t about living or dying. It’s about just getting the point across and having a conversation, one that has never been had on screen before. About what it means to be African, seeing what African-Americans have been through.

I go through that same type of pain. I know what oppression feels like. I know what that is. Maybe we’re not so different. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways from the movie. To bring some humanity to somebody who was constantly looked at as not human.

Did you find yourself having a similar transformative experience when you visited the continent?

Jordan: I did, but not in preparation for this movie. I had a chance to go a few years ago when I shot this movie Chronicle out there in Cape Town, South Africa. Crazy; that location for a movie set in Seattle. That was my first time going and honestly, just hearing Ryan talk about his experiences and his anticipation of going, my experience was similar. I expected to see something else. My parents are pretty aware. They’ve never been to the continent either. I’d always been told as a kid stories about Nigeria and the Yoruba culture and Kenya and Ghana. I have a lot of family and friends from Ghana and so a pretty 360-degree understanding of it, but all that was nothing compared to actually going there and being around your people and visiting Robben Island and that prison where Nelson Mandela spent so many years, and learning about apartheid that isn’t in the textbooks. Which is a very narrow window of what they want you to know, and kind of how to feel and view yourself.

To be able to go and visit the shanty towns and see what life is like over there and what they’re going through, but then also being able to see very strong, Black, powerful, wealthy, educated people. People will actually ask, “Did you see wild animals walking around?” No, not at all. It’s actually a big, huge city with tall skyscrapers and buildings and all that other stuff. I was 23 or 24, and going over made a big impact on me. And then to be a part of this movie, giving me the point of view from the African-American perspective, it was really important to me. I took it very seriously and I am going back. For Thanksgiving.

Nyong’o: Where are you going?

Jordan: Joburg.

Nyong’o: You haven’t had enough of South Africa, I see.

Jordan: No, I know, I’ve got to get up north.

Nyong’o: You’ve got to come east! Come on! You can’t sit across from me and not go to Kenya.

Jordan: I know!

It sounds like there’s a dinner invite in there somewhere.

Nyong’o: It’s an open invitation.

Coogler: Take that up, Mike. Her family is amazing.

Source: Deadline

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