Remember starry-eyed miniature drug trafficker Wallace in HBO’s gangster saga The Wire? He grew up. Just after his 25th birthday this month, we spoke to Michael B. Jordan about his newest film, Josh Trank’s superhero romp Chronicle and found he’s as much an outgoing, sprightly young talent as he is a bedroom-bound comic book fanatic.
How and when did you first get involved with Chronicle?
I got auditioned for the role after getting a call from my agent. When I picked it up for the first time, it felt just so right. I’m such a super-fan and geek of superheroes and villains and the Marvel comics, stuff like that. I had that in mind from the start – and then as I kept reading it, it just felt so right. It just felt like a fresh take on an old idea. Like a spandex’n’tight pants, jokey version of the superhero film formula. There are loads of pranks in it – so they kind of played along the lines of a Jackass kind of thing, without getting out of hand – it has a reality TV feel to it, too.
Have you always been interested in sci-fi?
Yeah, I grew up on cartoons. I’ve always followed anime, sci-fi and fantasy kind of stuff, too. I’m a fan, I’m a fanboy for sure. What actor wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to play a character with superpowers? It was a dream role for sure – besides me dying in it, of course. It’s an all-round perfect role for me, really.
It’s less of a serious role than you’re used to, right? Were you keen to explore something different before you were offered the part?
It was a great opportunity to explore a role outside of comfort zone, and still make it a unique, special project – the same kind of specialness that The Wire and The Sopranos – the type of shows that attract a lot of acclaim and that people really respond to.
And obviously you want to keep challenging yourself as an artist. As a young actor, there’s a danger of being typecast, too…
No, no, I don’t wanna be typecast right now – that’s always on my mind. You’re right though, you definitely want to keep raising the bar. I see movie making as an education – learning from one set to the next and walking away from a project a better actor. It has been a beautiful process – a gradual progression. It certainly hasn’t been zero to a hundred.
Journeying back to undoubtedly your most widely recognised role – did you know at the time that The Wire was going to be as big as it became?
No, not at all. I mean I was 16 at the time – it was my second or third major role. The Wire was originally supposed to just be a single series, and turned out to be this huge phenomena. When it aired, we all had absolutely no idea it was going to be as big as it is today.
The scene where you’re killed in the first series was particularly devastating – just so terrifying and awful.
Josh Trank is a very young director, and especially new to film. What was your relationship like with him on set?
Our relationship was great – Josh is a great guy. He’s so similar to myself. We speak to same language, we come from the same generation. It was fun – I was understanding what he was feeling, and he was understanding what I was feeling for it – it was a really great collaboration. It’s great for an actor to be able to meet a director half way with ideas, and he certainly has that ability.
Chronicle is in cinemas now.
Words: Jack Mills