Belfast Telegraph

Michael B Jordan bids to get justice message to the masses

The actor plays a civil rights lawyer in his new film Just Mercy.

Michael B Jordan (Jennifer Graylock/PA)
Michael B Jordan (Jennifer Graylock/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Michael B Jordan has spoken about the responsibility he feels as a black man to use his public platform to draw attention to issues that are important to him.

The Black Panther star, who will next be seen playing civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson in his battle to free a death row prisoner in the film Just Mercy, said he hopes the audience sees it as a call to action.

Arriving for a screen talk reflecting on his career at the BFI London Film Festival, he said: “Especially as a black man, honestly living in America, I definitely feel that responsibility.

“Having the production company, being an actor, being in the position that I’m in, using my celebrity and my platform to get this subject out to the masses.

“And it’s not just an American story, it’s a human story and it’s something I want to be able to travel and go around the world and get people out to see this project because I think the more people that see it the more people are going to start talking about it and hopefully you will start to see slow progress.”

He added: “I want people to walk away and figure out what they can personally do to contribute, to be a part of the movement, what can they do to be a part of the solution.

“I think so many people look at this, criminal justice reform is a such a big thing, that one person can’t really do anything to make an impact but I think in solidarity if enough people get together and start asking the right questions, when you start to demand answers from the systems that are obviously broken, I think you start to see some results.”

Jordan, who is an executive producer of the film with his company Outlier Society Productions, also spoke of the value in taking control of the work he does, saying: “It’s important, it feels good.

“I think paying your dues when you’re younger and working your way up and finally having the chance to have your opinion really make the screen and really make an impact on the script and story, it feels good, it’s something I hope to continue to do for the remainder of my career.”

Jordan first found fame as a teenager, playing Wallace in the hit series The Wire, and during the screen talk he recalled the devastation he felt when he learned his character would be killed off.

He said: “One of those things about The Wire, nobody was safe.

“It was one of those shows where anybody could get it at any times, like Game Of Thrones, like every week somebody is going to go.

“You would get a script and flip through it to make sure your name was at the end of it and then you could read it.

“A few of the characters had got killed off that you wouldn’t expect and you never wanted to get that knock on your trailer door from David Simon (the creator), that was him coming to let you down easy and he knocked on my trailer door and he said ‘We love you and that is why we have to kill you’.

“I remember being real sad, I was crying and moping around set, because I was 15 and I had a chance to get to know those guys like Dominic West and Idris Elba, everyone was like family, so just knowing I wasn’t going to get a chance to come to work with them was really sad.

“Everyone was like ‘You will be fine’ and I was like ‘How do you know?’.

“It was an impactful time, but things turned out I guess.”

Just Mercy is released in UK cinemas on January 24 2020.

PA

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