I’m sitting in a gorgeously appointed suite at The St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta’s posh Buckhead neighborhood, where actors Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Jamie Bell (TURN: Washington's Spies) are on hand to talk about their new movie, Fantastic Four.
Darker and grittier than its predecessors, 2005’s Fantastic Four and its sequel, 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Josh Trank-helmed reboot is a complete reimagining. The movie has garnered plenty of buzz before its August 7 release, and much of that has to do with Jordan.
In person, his dazzling smile is quickly disarming. He’s confident without sounding cocky, and with his induction into the Marvel Universe, it’s clear that his future in Hollywood is bright. Here are four fantastically cool things gleaned from my conversation with the 28-year-old superstar.
1. He’s Not Here to Entertain Ignorance
The biggest bombshell about casting for Fantastic Four was that Jordan, who is Black, nabbed the role as the charismatic Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch, who is white (previously portrayed in the films by Captain America’s Chris Evans). There was a plethora of online hate over the decision, and he’s been asked about it ad nauseam in interviews. He even penned an op-ed in Entertainment Weekly about it. And he’s done talking about it.
“People want to bring attention to the obvious or they expect a different reaction or maybe they ask in a different way to get a rise or a response out of somebody — some type of press or some type of headline... It’s just like, ‘It’s just not happening.’ That was my way of addressing it,” he says of the op-ed. Should he be cast in a future role traditionally portrayed by a non-Black actor, he adds, “I probably wouldn’t even address it again. I’m not going to try and keep highlighting ignorant stuff. I’m not going to feed it and give it energy.”
2. He’s Ready for New Doors to Open
Best known for his emotional role in 2013’s Fruitvale Station, he understands the boundless potential in being part of a multi-billion dollar franchise. “This movie will probably get the most eyes of anything that I’ve ever done, with people watching worldwide, so it’s a big deal. Hopefully it does make it easier to get more opportunities in the future, for sure,” he says. You can say it already has. Next up, he’ll star alongside Sylvester Stallone as the son of boxer Apollo Creed in Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise.
Playing a comic book hero was also a childhood dream come true. “I love Ice Man and Morph from X-Men. Those were my two favorite characters. I was big into comic books growing up,” he says.
3. He Went Beast Mode
While also preparing for Creed, which was filmed directly after Fantastic Four, Jordan worked out with a trainer two-to-three times a day, six days a week to look extra good in his clingy costumes as Johnny Storm. “My diet was probably the biggest change I had to go through. On set, I was eating, like, every two-to-three hours. Like broccoli, chicken, asparagus, rice — you know, pretty boring, bland stuff. A gallon of water a day. The thing I missed the most? Probably bread and cheese.”
4. He’s Not Shying Away From Being a Role Model
The African-American community is reeling from an apparent spike in racially-charged crimes in recent years. In Fruitvale Station, Jordan stepped into the life of Oscar Grant, an unarmed Black man killed by Oakland Police in 2009. He’s aware of his influence as a rising star and as a young Black man, and doesn’t shy away from that responsibility.
“I do a lot of charity work with kids. [Kids] are the only chance we have to fix our mistakes and make this place better, moving forward,” he says. “So we have to get to them at a young enough age to where we can change the way they think, which I think is the most crucial thing, so we can begin to reinvent ourselves within our own communities and break those vicious cycles.”
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(Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
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