Michael B. Jordan waited many years before saying yes to a romantic drama. He admitted he needed to live a little longer before he could.
If you look at Michael B. Jordan’s filmography, there is one genre that tends to stand out.
With people like Creed, Black Panther and Without remorseJordan cemented his action star status with dramatic gravitas.
What it doesn’t do much or anything at all is romantic drama. A newspaper for Jordan is new ground for the 35-year-old actor and filmmaker whose starring role was Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station and who is to make his directorial debut with Creed III.
Based on a true story, A newspaper for Jordan was adapted from the 2008 memoir of New York Times journalist Dana Canedy, who detailed the death of her fiancé Charles Monroe King, a US Army sergeant killed on tour in Iraq, and the diary he left for their then-baby son, Jordan.
The film is an emotionally harrowing journey, tracing the course of Dana and Charles’ relationship from when they first met until after his death and the legacy he left for their son and for the world.
It’s a tear, in part, because of the strength of Jordan’s performance as the romantic lead.
The actor spoke to news.com.au about honoring the memory of a real man, what he learned from King’s words and the lessons he learned from director Denzel Washington, who directed the film.
This isn’t the first time you’ve played as someone who is no longer alive, remembered through the memories of loved ones. What is your responsibility to the family and friends left behind by Charles King?
It’s a big responsibility to make sure their family legacy is done well and in an honest and truthful way as a movie, as a story, but also for the memory they have of that person. they are not with us.
Did you have many conversations with Dana about Charles?
I did it. I had many conversations with her about just about everything. She was an open book. Being a powerful and strong journalist, she gets asked a lot of tough questions and she asks a lot of tough questions. There was nothing forbidden. She was available day and night, whenever we needed her. She was all in.
Have you ever seen his real diary, the real copy?
I have. It was like a historical artifact. It was like, ‘Oh man, this is where it all started’. And then being able to see and meet Jordan, his son who is now 15 years old. He’s been so big and tall since the last time I remember seeing him while we were researching. It was a big problem to get this newspaper and to be able to read the original.
One of the first things we hear in the movie that Charles wrote to his son is that he says being a man means being open to being vulnerable to crying. What did you learn from Charles’s comments?
He wrote so much. I pulled out a dad trying to figure out his thoughts, his mindset, his values, all the things he could think his son would need in life, because he was afraid he wouldn’t come back from war .
That’s what I got out of it, the power of a father’s desperation, his will and his intention through words. I think he succeeded and more.
I read that your father was a Marine. Were you inspired by his experience for the role?
A little – stories about when he was in boot camp and on military bases when I was very young. And just understanding what he did and what he went through was definitely something that was on my mind while I was making this movie.
Has your father seen the film? Did you talk to him about it afterwards?
The first time I saw the film, I was with him. And he came out, and he was kind of stuffy, and he never gets emotional. So the fact that he felt something meant a lot. He loved her.
A newspaper for Jordan is your first romantic drama. Why now?
It was the right time. For actors, one of our greatest assets is our life experience and the things we could bring to the table. For me, I needed to live a little more to bring to a character that starts a family and is in love and all that other stuff. It was the right time for me in my personal life that it made sense for me to professionally dive into this space.
I was looking for a small intimate film that speaks of character, love, heart and romance. And I was looking for the right one. I said no to many others who would come my way. I’m glad I held on for this one, because it was worth it.
Did you pull anything from the way Denzel works as a director for your own directorial debut on Creed III?
Definitively. Working with him, his level of preparation was insane, from character development to rehearsals. It was a master class. I had the chance to learn so many things every day. I was very lucky to work with him just before my directorial debut.
A Journal for Jordan is now available for digital purchase and will be available for digital rental from May 4