Erik Killmonger of “Black Panther” is unlike any character Michael B. Jordan has played before.
He’s a menacingly calculated villain who you can’t help but root for just a little bit. In Jordan’s words, he’s a “revolutionary.”
“I think some of the most interesting characters are the ones you can empathize with,” the 30-year-old actor told HuffPost. “And if we can get people to empathize and see Erik Killmonger’s POV, I think we can make for an interesting film.”
Jordan gained 20 pounds and grew out his hair in preparation for the film. He also kept a journal ― something he does for all of his roles, he said ― and often found himself in a “dark” place. But he’s OK with that.
“That process was pretty intense, a little darker than the usual character that I play,” he said. “It was a side of me that I don’t get a chance to indulge in often and it was a lot of fun.”
Jordan showcases some of the work that went into his role in a new video highlighting the importance of paying it forward to other artists. In partnership with Brisk and his production company, Outlier Society, Jordan stepped behind the camera to combine his passions of acting, directing and helping other artists.
“I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have today if it wasn’t for the actors that came before me and the producers and the directors that opened up these doors,” he said. “So I’ve always took the stance that when I had the opportunity to do the same thing, I would pay it forward also.”
Director Ryan Coogler, who worked with Jordan on “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed” as well as “Black Panther,” was one of the people who pushed the actor to try his hand at directing.
“He’s a guy that told me, like, ‘Mike, yes, start directing. It’s never gonna be the perfect time, you just gotta do it,’” Jordan said.
“Black Panther,” which hits theaters Feb. 16, has already broken Marvel Universe records for presales. The film also has an almost all-black cast and crew, something rare for a feature of its scale.
“I love going to work every day in general but [there’s] something special about going to set to be in that environment,” Jordan said. “It was an incredible feeling to work with that cast and to tell that story, so it was a feeling I’ve never really had before on set.”
Watch Jordan’s video above.