By Steve Fisher
YOU MIGHT recognize his face from television shows such as The Wire, Friday Night
Lights or Parenthood. He’s got a name you
might recognize because it’s similar to that of
one of the most famous basketball players of
all time. But soon, you’ll be able to
put both together and know him as
one of the best actors of his generation. His name is Michael B. Jordan
and the actor, who reaches his 27th
birthday this month, left an indelible impression in the independent
feature Fruitvale Station, achieving
award buzz and scoring starring
roles in two upcoming major films,
Fantastic Four and Creed.
Fruitvale Station is based on the
true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-
old man in the San Francisco Bay
Area, who, while trying to turn his
life around, was fatally shot by a BART (Bay
Area Rapid Transit) officer on New Year’s
Day, 2009. For his role as Grant, Jordan just
won the Breakthrough Actor award at the IFP
Gotham Independent Film Awards.
The Connection recently talked to Jordan
The Costco Connection: You did not set
out to be an actor, but considering you started
at 12, there wasn’t a lot of time before you got
to make that decision.
Michael B. Jordan: I’ve been spoiled
from the beginning, working on some [great]
Michael B. Jordan graduates
from TV to feature films
shows and working with some very creative
and talented people and some veterans that
are very good at what they do. They definitely
groomed me into who I am today and the
actor that I am today. So it’s been such a blessing. They opened up so many doors for me.
It’s been a crazy ride.
CC: With such high-quality work, I would
imagine you can be more choosy at this point?
MBJ: Early on in your career, you’re just
happy to be working. It’s so competitive out
there. Now I’m in a place where I’m able to be
a little more selective with the roles that I
play and the movies I decide to do.
CC: Getting all this adulation now, how
do you keep your head level?
MBJ: I got good people like
my barber, and my family, people
that don’t care about the acting,
that are always going to be able
to tell me how it is and keep me
straight. The work doesn’t change
me. The success doesn’t change
me. I’m going to stay who I am
CC: You’ve done a number of
independent films. What do you
find interesting about those projects?
MBJ: It’s more intimate. You,
the director, the other actors, the
writer and [director of photography] figure
it out. Independent films can be a little more
collaborative than bigger studio films. And
it’s more character-driven pieces, not
made for the masses. It’s not measured
by how much money it makes.
CC: What drew you to Fruitvale
MBJ: I remember when it first happened and feeling like I wanted to do
something about it, but I didn’t really have
an outlet.… It was written [and directed] by
Ryan Coogler, who’s from that community.
It means so much to him. His heart and soul
was in the script, and his directing. So when
you get people that are really passionate about
something and they really have a vision, you
have to believe in that vision. If it matches up
with what you want to do, you’d be a fool not
to do it.
CC: When you’re playing a real-life person, how do you prepare for that?
MBJ: With a person where there’s no
audio and no video and you can’t talk to them
to get any real research from them, you have
to get to know him through the people that
knew him the best. And that was [Grant’s]
family. His mom, his daughter, his girlfriend,
his best friends, his uncles. I got a chance to
spend time with them and get to know Oscar,
and every side of him. He was a different person around different people. And you just got
to let yourself go. You’ve got to check Mike
out at the door and just try—really try—to
embody this man, this guy, and play him as
true as possible. C
PHOTOS: © 2013 THE WEINSTEIN COMPAN Y. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
Michael B. Jordan, as Oscar Grant, in a
tender moment with his daughter, Tatiana
(Ariana Neal). Inset: The climactic scene
in Fruitvale Station.
Scan or click
here to watch
a trailer for
(See page 5 for
Fruitvale Station is
available on Blu-ray
in all Costco warehouses.