Friday, February 23, 2018
In the action packed thriller, Traffik, Brea (Paula Patton) and John (Omar Epps) are off for a romantic weekend in the mountains. Isolated at a remote estate, the couple are surprised by the arrival of two friends, another couple, Darren (Laz Alonso) and Malia (Roselyn Sanchez.) Just when the weekend starts to get back on track, a violent biker gang turns up and begins to torment them. The foursome are forced to fight for their lives against the gang who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. The film is written and directed by Deon Taylor, and produced by Roxanne Avent, Paula Patton and Taylor. Codeblack Films, a division of Lionsgate will release the film wide on April 27, 2018.
FOR SOMEONE BESTOWED with such a heavy mantle, Winfrey is astonishingly lighthearted. “I am probably one of the most content, peaceful people you will ever meet,” she says during a conversation in Los Angeles, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from her home in Montecito, a wealthy, tight-knit community of almost 9,000. Part of that contentment clearly stems from the fact that since 2011, when Winfrey shut down the show that made her fame and much of her fortune, she’s been released from the 15-hour schedule that defined her days for decades and is free to choose her projects. “The thing about her being so powerful is that she doesn’t have to tolerate what does not nourish her,” says DuVernay, who, in addition to being Winfrey’s director on Wrinkle and 2014’s Selma, developed the breakout television drama Queen Sugar for OWN. “She has the power and the ability to practice ultimate discretion. Whatever she wants to do she does. Whatever she doesn’t want to do she does not.” One of Winfrey’s first moves was to leave Chicago, which had been home for almost 30 years, and settle into her 65-acre West Coast digs. Aptly dubbed the Promised Land, the property features a view of the Pacific, a lavish rose garden and a teahouse where she reads the Sunday papers and, typically, three books a week. The first time Witherspoon visited Winfrey at the oasis she created, the actress burst into tears: “I said, ‘You did this,’ ” Witherspoon says. “You have to remember, she comes from nothing. She doesn’t take anything for granted.” In addition to the 60 Minutes gig and the new Wrinkle film (in which she plays the wise, celestial being Mrs. Which), Winfrey’s book The Wisdom of Sundays, based on her Super Soul Sunday conversations, debuted in October and immediately topped the New York Times bestseller list. In December, Discovery Communications paid $70 million to increase its stake in OWN, a top cable network for African-American women and one of the fastest growing networks for women in general. Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. will retain a significant minority interest in the media property, and she will continue in her role as CEO. By the time Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in 2016, she had given $21 million, the largest gift to the museum by a single donor, and last year the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, the boarding school in South Africa to which she has contributed more than $150 million, celebrated its 10th anniversary. As for her current stress-free state, she says, “What a nice thing to come to. What if I’d been pissed off, if I’d left the show and been upset, trying to figure out the whys of life?” Clearly, she’s gotten something of a handle on the latter, though there were a few bumps in the road. Early on, she says, she realized she was absorbing the emotions of her guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show to an unhealthy degree. “It wasn’t just a show for me. It really was me being part of the human exchange, the whole human array of functions and dysfunctions,” she says. “I’d go home, and I’d be overwhelmed. I was getting sick. I had to learn how to put up just a little bit of a shield but also to be fully present through that veil.” In her 50s (she is now 64), Winfrey had a different kind of health scare when a thyroid issue went undiagnosed. “I thought I was dying every night, because I had heart palpitations,” she says. “I went to five different doctors, and each of them gave me a prescription for a different kind of heart medication, and it turned out I didn’t have a heart problem at all.” Her 50s also turned out to be the beginning of her current chapter. She refers often to what her late friend Maya Angelou said about the 50s being the decade when you become who you were meant to be. “There’s a quickening that happens, and your body, your hormones, everything is saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have as much time as you once had—let’s get on with it!’ ” she says. “You get to step into your true beauty, your true value, your true worth, without everyone else’s opinions and judgments of what you should be.” She was 57 when she stopped broadcasting The Oprah Winfrey Show and 62 when she shuttered Harpo Studios. Recently bulldozed to make way for McDonald’s global headquarters, the building had become something of a landmark in Chicago, a city she never truly got to know. “I’d get picked up at 5:30 in the morning in my apartment building’s garage, and then I’d be picked up at the studio at 8:30 at night,” she says. Weekends were spent in a nearby country house in Indiana, until, in 2001, while on a photo shoot, she discovered the place in Montecito (a town recently in the news for twin tragedies, the Thomas fire that destroyed scores of houses and the subsequent devastating mudslides that claimed at least 20 lives). IN 2016, when she heard DuVernay was filming Wrinkle in New Zealand, she all but leapt off the porch—but not necessarily to act. “She called me and said, ‘I hear you are filming in New Zealand, and I want to come hang out,’ ” DuVernay says. “I said, ‘That’s good because I was going to ask you to be in it.’ ” Winfrey, it should be noted, received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress in the first film in which she acted, The Color Purple, despite the fact that she’d never had formal training. “As an actor she has great empathy,” says DuVernay. “True actors, the best actors, actually become another person. Through the run of The Oprah Winfrey Show…she was practicing her craft, trying to walk in the shoes of another.” Though the director says Winfrey gets offered “everything to do with a woman of a certain age, black, white or otherwise,” she feels that acting is part of the Winfrey pantheon of talents that is most often overlooked. “When you think about her empire, you think of the show and all that,” DuVernay says, “but the acting would have been enough to have made her mark.” As in all things, Winfrey is mindful of her choices. “Her discernment in what characters she wants to lend herself to is very precise—Deborah Lacks, for example,” DuVernay says. (In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Winfrey plays the daughter of an African-American woman whose cancer cells were taken from her without her knowledge or consent and have been used for important medical research ever since.) “That role really resonated with women in the black community, which is what her intention was.” With Wrinkle, her aim was to have a good time, and by all accounts she achieved it. “I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun,” Winfrey says. “We were fired up. We were alive in that trailer every morning. Reese was the DJ, playing all this old Southern blues music. We listened to more Sam Cooke than I’ve heard since I was a kid.” Not only did she adore New Zealand (“It resonated with me…. There’s a heightened sense of color there that feels like another vibration,” she says), she had a blast with the cast. Witherspoon—who hails from Nashville, where Winfrey moved when she was 14 (“I think Southern girls have a thing,” Winfrey says)—first met her co-star when she was promoting the 2005 film Walk the Line on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “She completely Oprah-Showed me! I burst into tears talking about my high school English teacher,” Witherspoon says. During the shoot, the two forged a different bond. “We had at least four hours doing hair and makeup every day, and Oprah could have had her own trailer,” the actress says. “But she decided she wanted to do it with Mindy [Kaling] and myself. She really is like your best friend. She’s relatable, she loves to have a good time, she loves to drink a margarita.” PLEASE READ THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW IN WSJ (THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
Wright on How She Became Shuri, Wakanda's Brainy Princess n Wakanda, the fictional African utopia of Marvel's Black Panther, the monarch is a king named T'Challa, but women really run the kingdom. They are the healers, the scientists, and the warriors in this high-tech haven—sometimes all three. And amid a cast stacked with powerhouse actresses like Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, and Lupita N'yongo, newcomer Letitia Wright makes a strong and surprising impression as T'Challa's younger sister, the princess Shuri. "Wherever the good stories are, I'm trying to place myself there," Wright tells me succinctly. The 24-year-old actress, who was born in Guyana in South America and raised in London, certainly has an eye for material: She's having a breakout year on the strength of parts in sci-fi projects like Black Mirror and Steven Spielberg's forthcoming fantasy epic Ready Player One. Her gravitation toward prestige fantasy projects wasn’t intentional. Indeed, Wright is quick to mention intimate indie films like Juno or Ratcatcher, Lynne Ramsay’s first feature, as among her favorites. For the moment, though, “[Sci-fi] is where I find the good stories, really,” she says. Letitia Wright as Shuri, in scientist mode. Clearly, audiences agree: Black Panther has smashed advance ticket sales records, and is poised to become Marvel’s next hit franchise even before its release. In Wright’s star turn in the film, she plays a brainy, charming scientist equally capable of wielding a weapon as well as a wit that’s sharp enough to puncture the vibranium seriousness of her older brother, the king and titular Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Wright is already getting numerous mentions as one of the film's scene-stealers—even if, as she says, "I’m not really wanting to be famous." Thoughtful and soft-spoken, Wright counts herself an admirer of actresses like Naomie Harris, as well as Viola Davis for her dedication and “just telling the truth all the time.” Wright remembers growing up in Guyana for its sense of community, but it was when she moved to London that she decided she wanted to act. She became determined to embark on this path after seeing the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee. “I wanted to tell stories like that," Wright recalls. "I wanted to be captured in a weird camera thing that records.” As a teenager, she quickly landed roles on television shows like the British cult comedy Cucumber and its companion series Banana, as well as a starring role in the 2015 film Urban Hymn. After her early brushes with success, though, Wright went on a hiatus from acting when barely out of her teenage years. “I was pretty much obsessed with acting, and it became my world,” she explains now. “It became what I used to be happy.” Faith, however, is what ultimately centered her. “I said, ‘Okay, Jesus, I’ll try you,’ and I haven’t looked back since,” she says. “I don’t really consider myself religious. I view it more as a relationship," she adds, with a laugh. "And if anyone thinks that’s weird, then okay." It's useful to be able to ground oneself as an up-and-coming talent, not least of all on a blockbuster Marvel set. "With Black Panther, it was like stepping up to the plate, working crazy hours, and still bringing your best to the table every time,” Wright recalls. She notes that filming her role in Ready Player One, which she wrapped just before Black Panther, gave her an insight into the intensity of a big-budget production—and how the greats do modesty. She remembers meeting Steven Spielberg in person for the first time: “He can still humbly come up to someone who he doesn’t know, and say, ‘Hello, my name’s Steven,'" she says. "And to me that was just a really dope moment.” And now in warrior princess mode.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Lupita Nyong’o has been very open about embracing her natural hair texture and redefining beauty standards in Hollywood and beyond. The Black Panther actress often experiments with a variety of hair looks on the red carpet, but learning to love what she calls her “African kinky hair” wasn’t something Nyong’o was always able to do as an adolescent growing up in Kenya. “I didn’t love my hair when I was a child. I was really kind of envious of girls with thicker, longer, more lush hair,” Nyong’o told Allure for her cover story in the magazine’s Culture of Hair issue, on newsstands Feb. 20. By the time Nyong’o hit her tween years, she started begging her mom to allow her to relax her hair. “She wouldn’t allow it, though her hair was relaxed. She felt that that was a decision I could come to when I was maybe 18. Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty,” the actress said. Eventually, after much back-and-forth, Nyong’o’s father intervened and she started relaxing her hair. “I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable,” she said. “The upkeep of relaxed hair is a commitment. It took styling it once a week and then having it retouched once a month. I remember doing crazy things, like sleeping with my head above the headboard so that my curls wouldn’t get messed up for the next day!” After dealing with the high maintenance process for years, Nyong’o turned 18 and had to start paying to get her hair done herself. She knew it was time for a change. And she didn’t just go for a simple switch. “My dad joked, ‘Why don’t you just cut it all off?’ And a few months later, I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I?’ I went into the hair salon, and I said, ‘Let’s cut it off,'” Nyong’o told the magazine. “It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald.” Even though it took the star’s mom a bit of time to come around to her new ‘do (“When I got home, my mother was horrified.”), the experience of being completely bald is what pushed Nyong’o to become confident with her natural hair. “That was definitely a liberating stage. I had nothing to hide behind. I had my hair short for a very long time after that,” she said. Now, the actress’ hair is “the longest it’s been in over a decade” thanks to the help of her hair stylist Vernon François, who also styled her hair for this Allure cover shoot. “He’s been so helpful, helping me learn how to maintain my natural hair texture,” Nyong’o said. “Now I love my hair. I love it because I’ve also been able to really embrace the stuff it can do. It’s like clay in the right hands. Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands. Being able to have that kind of playtime with Vernon to create different things has inspired me.”
Black Panther's Daniel Kaluuya Is in His Own Space Now Photo of Mark Anthony Green By Mark Anthony Green Photographs by Thomas Whiteside 6 days ago Black Panther and Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya talks about the awards-season hustle and his favorite performances of the year—and shows off the 14 essential fashion pieces of the season. Daniel Kaluuya is in the thick of awards season. His British accent is thick. It's morning. He looks tired but remains super focused. Pensive. Serious. "I don't have time for fucking race debates," he says. His breakout role in Jordan Peele's Get Out—which scored him a Best Actor nod at this year's Oscars—has guaranteed that in every sit-down, he's gotta talk about race. "I just rebuke all of this shit." He's looking at the long game. This isn't just some handsome actor—destined to live a life of following directors' orders and collecting trophies. This is a serious artist, someone who's been "plottin'." Look at these three films: Get Out will be heralded as the standard of black surrealism, possibly sparking its own genre entirely. Black Panther is on track to break box-office records. And Steve McQueen's forthcoming Widows will likely land him back in this seat next year: answering questions over breakfast, smack-dab in the middle of awards season. Listening to him, I'm reminded of a young Sidney Poitier. He's shrewd. Charismatic. Unapologetic. Important. "This house didn't want me for the longest time. I kept trying to get in, and they wouldn't let me in. And I didn't even like the house!" He takes a bite of his omelet. "So now I'm building my own house." What about the film? How'd you feel if Get Out doesn't win? Would that disappoint you? For Jordan. Because he deserves it. Because he's special. But things happen. If you ignore [Get Out], then ignore it. Then we know what you are. You get what I'm saying? What is your favorite film of 2017 that's not Get Out? Ah, that's a good question. Jesus…I can only pick one? Just one. Good Time. That's your favorite film of the year? It's my favorite. It's good. I like Lady Bird, too. A lot of people don't like Lady Bird. I liked it. I love that indie shit. A lot of that Sundance kind of vibe. But Good Time is cold. Good Time is like a film for now. The Good Time directors directed "Marcy Me" [Jay-Z's music video]. I thought the film was cold. Raw. Current. This is a current filmmaker. Robert Pattinson is the lead. It's that edgy shit! But I Am Not a Witch is a close second. What's one thing that you need every day? Headspace. What do you mean? Sometimes I wake up really early just to think or to do what I want to do. Because a lot of my day is doing what other people want me to do. So I watch a film or read a book. Sometimes I used to wake up really, really early. Do something for me. Which means I'm better for others. And I realized when I didn't do that, I'd be really down. Get what I'm saying. Because I'll feel like I'm me. I was on the treadmill, and that really helps me. So it's just headspace and kind of feeling like you're in control. If you had to mirror your career after any previous actor, who would it be? Donald Glover. The way he moves is righteous. What I love about Donald Glover is he just does stuff and doesn't apologize for it. He'll drop an album, go away. Drop a TV show, go away. Drop a film, go away. Doesn't have to over-explain it. Just does what he does. Are you a competitive person? No. When I see Beckham, that inspires me. When I see Mike B., that inspires me. They're moving amazingly, man. And they're amazing people. So like, I'm trying not to be like, where is Jack O'Connell or Dev Patel? That's not good for you. You're not being good to yourself when you do that. What do you want from acting? I guess to express myself. But it's more pinpointed than that. To be a reflection of what me and what my people are feeling. That's what I want to represent. When I was doing Get Out, that's where I was at. Black Panther, that's where I'm at. That's how I feel with the roles that I do. That's where my space is at. For whatever reason, that's how I was feeling.
THERE IS MORE MARVEL MOVIES COMING OUR WAY, HOPEFULLY THEY WILL HAVE TIME TO INCLUDE A BLACK PANTHER PART 2. AVENGERS INFINITY WAR IS IN THEATERS MAY 4, 2018. aNT-MAN AND THE WASP ON JULY 6TH. CAPTAIN MARVEL ON MARCH 8, 2019, THE FOURTH AVENGERS MOVIE ON MAY 3, 2019, THE SEQUEL TO SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING ON JULY 5, 2019 AND GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 3 IN 2020.
Two years ago, Chadwick Boseman was in a movie called Gods of Egypt. It was not a very good movie. But in addition to its not-goodness, it also became infamous for whitewashing – casting, as ancient African deities, a white guy from Scotland, a white guy from Denmark and at least seven white people from Australia. Boseman, the sole black lead, played Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and inventor of mathematics. Before the movie came out, an interviewer asked him about the criticism, and Boseman said that not only did he agree with it, it was why he took the part – so audiences would see at least one god of African descent. "But, yeah," he added dryly. "People don't make $140 million movies starring black and brown people." What a difference two years makes. Because now we have Black Panther – not just a $140 million movie starring black and brown people, but a $200 million one. It's very overdue. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Panther, the first black superhero, way back in 1966, but he didn't show up on the big screen until 50 years later, when Boseman stole Captain America: Civil War. Now, after a decade of Marvel Universe films starring a demographically disproportionate number of white Chrises, the world finally has its first African superhero movie. "It's a sea-change moment," Boseman says. "I still remember the excitement people had seeing Malcolm X. And this is greater, because it includes other people, too. Everybody comes to see the Marvel movie." He's not exaggerating. The film broke a ticket-presales record for superhero movies, and at press time it was tracking toward a $165 million opening – better than every Marvel nonsequel except The Avengers and possibly enough to crack the top 10 movie opening weekends of all time. A quick primer: Boseman plays T'Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda – the richest and most technologically advanced civilization on Earth. He also moonlights as Black Panther, an Afro-futurist warrior with superhuman powers charged with protecting his people. According to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Boseman was their only choice for the role. And when the call came, he was ready. "He said yes on the phone," recalls Feige. "I didn't sense a lot of hesitation on his part." Up until now, Boseman, 41, was most famous for being the biopic guy, playing an unprecedented run of trailblazing African-American icons: Jackie Robinson (42), James Brown (Get On Up), Thurgood Marshall (Marshall). In a way, Black Panther is the logical next step – Thurgood Marshall with vibranium claws and a stealth jet. Boseman has for years wanted to play the character, keeping a journal with notes as far back as 2012. "It's perfect casting," director Ryan Coogler says. "His physicality, his reserved personality, the way he looks younger than he is, wise beyond his years." "Chad gave a hell of a performance," says Michael B. Jordan, who co-stars as his archnemesis, Killmonger. "I couldn't imagine anybody else." A few weeks before the movie opens, Boseman is trying to lay low, sipping peppermint tea at the hipster L.A. coffee shop where he used to come to write, back when he was an aspiring screenwriter freshly arrived from New York. He's in head-to-toe black – cardigan, T-shirt, chinos, socks – except for some suede Valentino sneakers and a beaded necklace of Pan-African red, gold and green. He's tall and lean, with long, elegant fingers and the knuckles of a boxer. (Coogler says they would sometimes spar on set to get amped up.) One of his strengths as an actor is a quiet, intense watchfulness, and he's the same in real life, taking in the world with a skeptical half-squint. ("I see everything," Boseman says.) When he does speak, he's invariably thoughtful and thorough. "You're saying I'm long-winded!" he says, laughing. In some ways, Boseman is a funny fit for a blockbuster action star. He's "90 percent" vegan, casually name-checks radical black intellectuals like Yosef Ben-Jochannan and Frantz Fanon, and says he gets anxious onstage or in front of crowds. ("Going on a talk show? Oh, my God. Nah.") But he also knows he's a conduit for something bigger: "I truly believe there's a truth that needs to enter the world at a particular time. And that's why people are excited about Panther. This is the time." It's a watershed moment for African-Americans and Hollywood. The cast is a murderers' row of talent – in addition to Boseman and Jordan, there's Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker and several actors of immediate African descent, including Star Wars' Lupita Nyong'o (who grew up in Kenya), The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira (who was raised in Zimbabwe) and Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya (whose parents immigrated to England from Uganda). And it's not just the first superhero movie with a predominantly black cast – it's the first with a black director, black writers, black costume and production designers, and a black executive producer. Community groups are renting out whole theaters to screen it; people are running crowd-funding campaigns to buy tickets for black kids who might not be able to see it otherwise. PLEASE READ THE REST OF THIS INTERVIEW IN Rolling Stone
How This Actor Went from Yale Grad Student to Black Panther Villain Catching up with Winston Duke. By: Leah Faye Cooper Photography: Alec Kugler Gather ’round, kids—it’s story time! In late 2012, I was out at legendary NYC bar and late-night dance haunt Von, when a guy named Winston introduced himself to me. At the time, I was a flat-broke freelance writer trying to carve out a career in fashion editorial (and had taken several shots at home so I didn’t have to pay for drinks at the bar). Winston told me that he was studying acting at Yale and would be graduating in a few months. We clicked over our shared young, black, creative, and hungry identities, and became Facebook friends on the dance floor (so Millennial of us, I know). A few months later, in May 2013, he wrote me a message saying that he’d be back in the city soon and we should hang out. I replied agreeing. That meet-up never happened, though...until earlier this week. After weeks of seeing Winston’s face on Black Panther posters and red carpets—but not knowing why he looked so familiar—it clicked: Winston Duke—that’s the guy I met at Von forever ago. I scrolled through my Facebook messages, saw our last correspondence—dated June 22, 2013—and sent him a message: “It’s been ages...congrats!...I’ve landed at Coveteur...we’d love to do something with you.” He responded: “It has been ages...congrats on Coveteur!...I’d love to.” A few emails to and from his publicist later, and our photographer and I were in Duke’s midtown Manhattan hotel room, catching up and taking photos before the NYC Black Panther premiere. “I was auditioning like crazy and hadn’t even booked my first television appearance,” Duke says of what he was up to when we first met. “Getting back into the real world [after school] you’re like, ‘Who do I meet? Who do I talk to? Who are the people whose energies feel like kindred spirits because they’re also out here hustling and creating opportunities for themselves?’ And I think that’s what I saw in you.” (Indeed, I was hustling; I still am.) Duke, who was born in Tobago and moved to Brooklyn when he was 10 with his mother and older sister, went on to land roles in Person of Interest and Modern Family, among other TV shows. He left the east coast in 2016 for L.A., and that same year, after months of auditions and call-backs, was cast as supervillain M’Baku in Black Panther—arguably the most highly anticipated film of the year. Throughout the evening we talked fashion and pre-party rituals—as we always do when we hang out with someone before a big, fancy event—but we also talked a lot about Duke’s life, how meaningful this role is to him, and how serendipitous it is that our paths crossed again—at a time in our lives when all that hustling is beginning to pay off. “This experience has just been...everything,” he says of appearing in and promoting Black Panther. I’d describe my opportunity to write for a living, sharing his story and others’, the exact same way.
Award winning TV, film and stage actress—Danai Gurira—is just one of the many famous faces covering the Winter edition of ROGUE Magazine. Inside, Gurira dishes about her leading role as Michonne on AMC’s hugely popular series, “The Walking Dead” and well as her highly anticipated role in “Black Panther” along with Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o.The 39-year-old The Walking Dead actress has a major month ahead of her with the upcoming highly anticipated release of Marvel’s Black Panther, in which she plays the part of Okoye, a Wakandan and traditionalist from the Border Tribe who is the head of the Dora Milaje. And that’s not the only time she’ll be filling the role this year: Danai is also set to appear as Okoye in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, which is due in theaters on May 4. She also talks about her incredible journey as an activist and artist trying to diversify the industry and much more!
Michael B. Jordan Takes On His First Blockbuster Role—as a Villain Now comes Black Panther, the eagerly awaited dive into the Marvel comic universe from Jordan’s friend and collaborator, Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. The film—which chronicles the story of T’Challa, aka Black Panther, king of Wakanda, a fictional African nation—has been the source of frenzied fan excitement for a few years now, partly because of the 31-year-old Coogler’s growing reputation as a visionary, but also because it is a big-budgeted epic about a black superhero, starring a dream cast of black actors, among them Jordan, Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker, and Chadwick Boseman (42, Get On Up) in the title role. It’s absurd that it took until 2018 to get here, but in Hollywood, Black Panther is a Very Big Deal. “It’s something that hasn’t been done before,” says Jordan. “I think it’s a perfect time for this movie.” There’s also this: For the first time in his career, Jordan is going truly bad, playing a villain, Black Panther’s burly nemesis, Erik Killmonger—“something I’ve never done before,” Jordan says. To prep, he studied great villain performances, like Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Michael Fassbender in…a lot of Michael Fassbender things. “I felt competitive,” Jordan says. “I wanted to build a performance that people will remember. Something different. Grow my hair out? Cool. I’ll grow my hair for a year. Put on 20 pounds? I’ll put on 20 pounds.” To clarify: He’s talking about 20 pounds of muscle. “Everything,” Jordan says. “Chest, shoulders, back. My legs a little bit, my quads. I was just, like, massive.” This dedication is a celebrated part of Jordan’s origin story. For Creed, he shredded himself into a fighting machine with an enviable eight-pack set of abdominals. For Black Panther, Jordan was right back at it with the weights and monastic eating restrictions. “It’s a job, man,” he says, clearly enjoying our midday carb feast, which is not his norm. “You really have to diet. It’s hard to be social. You have to drink a gallon and a half of water. When you’re drinking a gallon and a half of water a day, you know how many times you have to use the bathroom? It’s annoying.” Body work didn’t make Jordan a movie star, however. His undeniable magnetism did. From the early stages of Jordan’s career, he’s taken roles, often small ones, and consistently turned out engaging, fully formed humans. The young drug runner Wallace in The Wire; quarterback Vince Howard in Friday Night Lights; recovering alcoholic Alex in Parenthood; underdog boxer Creed—all of them could have been played as standard character types. But Jordan made them multidimensional, empathetic, riveting. In Fruitvale Station, in which he played Oscar Grant—a Bay Area native shot and killed in Oakland, California, by a transit police officer who was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter—Jordan portrayed a complex person of intelligence and vulnerability (and humor), which countered the usual media caricatures. It still feels mildly insane that neither Fruitvale nor Jordan was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014. Audiences, it seems, really like watching Michael B. Jordan on the screen, and it’s made him a sought-after talent. A few hours before we’d met up, I’d read an excited blog post listing the top five reasons to see Black Panther, and the No. 1 reason was: “Michael B. Jordan is always awesome.” “I think Mike has a way of making you care,” says Coogler, who calls Jordan “incredibly relatable” on screen and off. “I think some of it is natural—he’s got a natural charisma. But he’s put time into it. There’s been a lot of hard work on craft, too.” “There’s a skill to humanizing what’s on a page and making it sing,” says Tessa Thompson, who co-starred alongside Jordan in Creed as Bianca, Donnie’s musician girlfriend. “With Michael, I think there’s a sweetness that’s rare and lights up a screen. The reason that audiences love him is because they can feel close to him.” In person, Jordan is an engaging mix of confidence and humility—the exact opposite of wishy-washy. Though he’s still young (he turns 31 in February), he’s been working for more than half of his life and sees an opportunity to make this his moment. “I’m ambitious,” he says. “I see what actors I look up to have, the types of platforms they have and their ability to create and tell stories they want—I want that. Why not?” He credits his father, Michael A. Jordan, who served in the Marines, for his drive: “The one thing my dad always told me is ‘You’ve got to be serious about something.’ ” “That’s why Black Panther is so important,” he continues. “There are so many things that had to happen for Marvel to get on board, for Disney to get behind the message that we’re getting behind. Ryan [Coogler] had to be the perfect guy; he had to earn his stripes, earn his budget.” Judging from the advance excitement, Black Panther looks as though it might turn out to be one of those oh, duh moments for Hollywood, just as director Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman was when it earned $800 million last summer: Wait, you mean if we make a smart, mass-appeal movie that recognizes a huge chunk of the moviegoing public, it might be a giant hit? “That’s how I feel,” Jordan says. “I feel like it’s a timing thing.” Jordan has a special bond with Coogler; with Black Panther, the actor and director have now made three movies together—and a fourth, Wrong Answer, about the Atlanta schools testing scandal, is in the works, with a script being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It’s tempting to see a Scorsese/De Niro–style partnership brewing. Jordan says that he and Coogler have an almost unspoken work dynamic now. He knows what Coogler wants before the director even asks. “I trust him with my life,” Jordan says. “I literally want to do all of his movies.” “When we first met, there was this ease of communication,” says Coogler, who was born in Oakland. “We’re roughly the same age, from similar-type places. We’ve become like family from working on projects this intense.” can't get enough of Michael B. Jordan read the rest of the article in February WSJ. Article written by By Jason Gay