Michael B. Jordan Is More Than A Hero
Time|September 16, 2019
Michael B. Jordan Is More Than A Hero
Our next great movie star is making Hollywood inclusive—onscreen and off
Kara Brown
THE STOREFRONT ENTRANCE OF THE UNDERground Museum, on a busy street in central Los Angeles, is easy to miss. Inside, it feels like somebody’s stylish home: there are shelves lined with books, framed art and baskets of records. The museum was launched in 2012 with the mission to bring museum-quality art to a community—and neighborhood— that previously had little access to it. Beyoncé has been spotted, John Legend used the space to launch an album, and Barry Jenkins hosted a screening of Moonlight here.

Michael B. Jordan has never been here before, but once he arrives—wearing a blindingly white T-shirt and a friendly grin—he can’t get enough. As we walk around, he pulls out his phone to make a note about one of the exhibits so he can look it up later. He doesn’t exactly fidget, but there’s an anxious energy to him even as he sits still on a bench in the spacious garden. When he wants to make a point, he leans in and looks down, concentrating, wanting to get the words right. “I’m a naturally quiet person,” he says. “Actions speak louder than words.”

For Jordan, it’s easier to inhabit a role than to talk about it. But there’s a lot to discuss when it comes to his next film, Just Mercy, an adaptation of Bryan Stevenson’s best-selling memoir, in which Jordan stars as the activist lawyer. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the movie chronicles the early days of Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative, as he defended wrongfully incarcerated death-row inmates. Just Mercy premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6 before hitting theaters in December in the thick of awards season. The film, which Jordan also produced, reveals the ways in which law enforcement and the judicial system unfairly target and punish people of color, as brought to life by the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), an inmate set to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. As Stevenson attempts to clear his name, he uncovers the racist conspiracy that led to McMillian’s wrongful conviction. “It’s a system that preys on people of color, people who are poor, who are uneducated,” Jordan says. “When you leave this movie, I want you to question what you think is normal.”

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September 16, 2019