Fantastic Four actor Michael B. Jordan has found himself the target of social media vitriol for comments made during a recent interview in which the young actor said he wanted the opportunity to take on roles not only written specifically for black men.
Jordan was nominated and won several awards for his portrayal of Oscar Grant in 2013’s Fruitvale Station. Grant was infamously shot and killed by a BART police officer at an Oakland train station in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in 2009.
In a lengthy interview for GQ magazine’s October cover story, Jordan says he wants to find “not just stereotypical roles of a black actor playing a thug or the drug dealer, doesn’t know his mom, doesn’t know his dad – you know, the same old, same old. I’m not about stereotypes.”
“I want to be part of that movement that blurs the line between white and black,” Jordan continued. “I told my team after I finished Chronicle that I only want to go out for roles that were written for white characters. Me playing the role will make it what it is.”
Of course, Jordan does have some experience playing a traditionally white character; he played Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, in last summer’s box-office catastrophe Fantastic Four. But, as GQ points out, the actor doesn’t seem to really believe he will only play white roles going forward; in fact, Jordan is attached to star as Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson in a new adaptation of the attorney’s book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.
Instead, Jordan invokes Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling as actors he looks up to:
“They made smart choices,” he says of the actors. “They played people, not being ‘a white actor playing a person,’ them playing a person. When I play a person or profession, it’s black this, black that. It’s obvious that I’m black, but why do I have to be labeled as that?… Instead of taking something conceptually written for a black guy, I want the stuff that was written for a guy.”
During the interview, Jordan also responded to rumors earlier this year that he was dating Kendall Jenner, of Kardashian Klan fame. Jordan’s black fans were apparently upset with the actor over the rumors, but he told GQ that he doesn’t “see white and black.”
According to reports, Jordan sent out a Snapchat with the phrase #AllLivesMatter shortly after he began taking heat for his comments on social media. After that, Twitter exploded against him.
I've admired @michaelb4jordan for so long and have made it a point 2 support his projects… but he doesn't even support his own ppl anymore
— Befffff-A-Kneeee (@Bef_Leigh) September 24, 2015
Michael B Jordan is talking about all lives matter after being in Fruitvale Station? How sway?
— Barry Gordy (@branfire) September 23, 2015
Michael B Jordan said he doesn't see color but made sure to mention how "THE BLACKS" reacted to him being seen with Kendall. Mmmmkay
— 🇳NaijaGal🇳 (@Naija4LifeO) September 23, 2015
Michael B Jordan knows that if he says "Black Lives Matter" on Monday he's doing Tyler Perry movies by Friday.
— Not Very Smart Brotha (@HisNamesTawanda) September 23, 2015
The left-leaning Daily Beast also piled on: “But this is the young actor who penned an op-ed about ‘torching the color line’ in playing a superhero who happens to be black in Fantastic Four, and who gave a Black Lives Matter speech at the BET Awards this summer. It’s not just that he should know better, it’s that he does know better.”
Interestingly, in an interview for the same magazine released earlier this week, actor Ryan Reynolds expressed concern that Jordan would have trouble rebounding from the failure of Fantastic Four specifically because he is a black actor.
Check out Jordan’s full interview with GQ here.