Five years ago I asked Michael B. Jordan what type of roles he’d like to do in the future?
Prophetically he answered, “Things outside of my comfort zone, but I like everything. I have such eclectic tastes. Comedy is something that I’ve been starting to experiment into. That’s outside my comfort zone a little bit, but people think I’m funny.
“I like sci- fi, I like fantasy a lot, I grew up with comic books – I’m a comic book geek. I’m into Japanese animation and stuff like that.
“And something that I really want to do in the future is a love story, I definitely want to experiment with how it’s changed over the years. It’s a lot harder to maintain relationships than it was 15, 20 years ago so.”
And according to plan the 31-year-old actor has done just that: a comedy (Fantastic Four), a Marvel sci-fi comic book epic (Black Panther), a love story (Creed) and its sequel.
The first time I met Jordan, it was for the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station.
He was then the average well-built African American kid. But after under-taking a super strenuous workout regime for Creed, he was almost unrecognisable, and he looks even better in Creed 2.
“I had two different trainers. I had a physical trainer which involved weight lifting and working on sculpting my body to look like a boxer.
“And then I had a boxing trainer who really honed in on my boxing skills. I was boxing consistently for about a year straight, eventually your muscles start to elongate, and you start to get leaner, more cut up and ripped.”
That’s not all. He also was strict with his diet. He cut out sugar, dairy products and breads.
“It was super bland, miserable, but once you start to see results it’s very encouraging and motivating.”
As a kid were you into body building?
Not at all. I never worked out, and I hardly hit the gym.
But surely it must be in your genes?
I have genetics on my side yes, for sure, and of course I’ve got youth on my side.
Women are obviously turned on by your torso. How do you feel about that?
I think that’s a good thing, I don’t mind being objectified every now and again. It’s flattering.
And if men admire your physique?
The difference I think is men typically have egos, and for a man to compliment another man, you don’t see it that often. I think it’s cool. It tells me I am doing a good job.
But when a woman tells you you’re looking great and awesome, it satisfies a different part of your ego.
Without the B, your name is formidable. So how did you deal with it growing up?
As a kid I hated my name, and I was upset with my parents for naming me that. But later I realised it’s my dad’s name and I’m his first son so I’ve accepted it.
Have you ever met (basketball legend) Michael Jordan?
I met him in passing one time years ago, but I’ve never wanted to meet him until I felt like it was a mutual respect.
But having the same name put a competitive chip on my shoulder. It made me want to be great at something. I used to get teased all the time.
When did you first discover you wanted to be an actor?
When I was about 16. I was on The Wire.
Up until that point, I was just a kid getting out of school early, working on TV shows. I got to go on a set and play make believe and get craft services and snacks. And I got paid to do that.
But it wasn’t until I was on The Wire, where I met a lot of veteran actors that really took me under their wing and let me know that, “Hey, this is something you could do, you’re actually good. You can make a career out of this if you really wanted to.”
I became addicted to that feeling of wanting to lose myself in a role, so I began chasing that feeling. Sometimes it’d be only a minute; sometimes it’d be two minutes. It’s like a muscle; you’ve got to keep flexing it.
And the longer you can stay with it, the more believable your performance will be. That’s when I knew I could be an actor.
You’ve been pretty selective in the roles you’ve chosen so far or have you just been lucky?
As an actor of colour, being black and striving to be a black lead in this industry, you have to be selective of the projects you do.
I’ve said no to a lot of things. The power of no is important for an actor. Fortunately I’ve had the luxury of working with (Black Panther, Creed, Fruitvale Station director) Ryan Coogler.
We made a pact that we’re doing all our movies together. That’s something hopefully we’ll be doing for the rest of our career.
2018 has been a phenomenal year for you. Do you care to comment?
It’s been a crazy year in the sense that, we shot Black Panther, and it exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of what it means for my community and my culture, as well as cinematic history on a lot of levels.
It busted through a lot of glass ceilings. And then to follow that up with a sequel to a movie, my own franchise, that was pretty special for me.