The smooth, calculated Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan is one of three cover profiles in October’s GQ, alongside Ryan Reynolds and Rob Lowe. The interview itself is a good read, especially as Jordan has maintained a pretty low profile on his way up these past few years. It’s possible to know him as a Young Actor On The Rise, but not really have any idea of him as a celebrity persona. We live in an era when actors regularly commodify everything from their babies to their divorces, but MBJ hasn’t co-opted his personal life like a lot of his peers have. According to him, that’s because he doesn’t have much of a personal life, choosing work over dating in his twenties, but this now becomes my primary impression of him—charming, yes, THAT SMILE, of course, but oh my god, is this guy DRIVEN. There is serious, serious ambition inside Michael B. Jordan, and he just got a lot more interesting for it.
It’s not cool to be ambitious. We don’t like people who openly talk about their goals, and we actively punish those who achieve said goals and then have the audacity to be proud of it. This is why Jennifer Lawrence, one of the most driven and ambitious young actors (you don’t land two major franchise roles and two Oscar nominations before 25 by accident), covers up her drive with aw-shucksterism. MBJ, however, is not going that route. He’s open about what he wants, candid about his goals, and you can feel his determination to not play into the stereotypes that plague black representation on screen. You can also feel the weight of expectation he feels as a black actor, to be more than just a “black actor”. He says, “Instead of taking something conceptually written for a black guy, I want the stuff that was written for a guy.”
This interview was conducted just before Fantastic Four came out, and the writer, Chris Heath, notes that MBJ pretty well escaped the fiery inferno that took that movie down. What’s interesting is that in his cover profile, Ryan Reynolds comments on MBJ and Fantastic Four. As the fellow survivor of a disastrous superhero movie, Reynolds says, “…I’m more frustrated about the Michael B. Jordan aspect than Miles Teller. You know, Miles Teller’s gonna recover. Miles Teller’s gonna go on to do amazing things, you know. It’s important that Michael B. Jordan continues to go on and do amazing things. […] I know it’s not easy for a black actor. It’s not easy for a female actor. It’s not easy for a lot of people that are... That entire cast is amazingly talented. And I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I mean, I know what that feels like. It doesn’t feel good.”
The good news is, MBJ’s next project is the Rocky spin-off, Creed, which actually looks pretty good. The bad news is, the only other project MBJ has announced is the maybe-happening, maybe-not Fantastic Four sequel. Miles Teller, meanwhile, has two movies completed and two in production before you ever get to Fantastic Four 2 on his CV. There’s definitely a quality over quantity element in play—one of Teller’s movies is Divergent: Allegiant or whatever the f*ck it’s called—but Reynolds’s frustration and worry are not unfounded. MBJ is talented, he’s got the drive, the charisma—all the elements you need to build a modern movie star. But it still feels like more an uphill climb for him than it does for Miles Teller, who is openly douchey and gets in his own way but will never run out of second, third, fourth chances.
However, the big takeaway from this profile on the internet is how MBJ says, basically, that he’s not here for a relationship but is DTF with “the females”. Again, he’s being honest about his ambition. A relationship is not part of his plan right now. Right now it’s the work, his career, and the discipline and focus it takes to achieve his goals. So are you down with a dude laying out his emotionally un/availability like this? Being straight up about the fact that, right now, he’s just in for a short, good time? Or are you like me and more off put by how he keeps calling women “the females”? And how do we think it would go over if an actress talked like this? (Hint: Not well.)
Oh, and I do not like the video that goes with the interview, in which MBJ pretends to be your boyfriend or something. It reminds me of this weird video called the “Instant Adoring Boyfriend” which is basically a ready-made suicide note for lonely cat ladies. Next time MBJ does one of these things, lets come up with a better viral video idea for him, yeah?
Click here to read the full GQ interview.