Michael B. Jordan wants to repay Jamie Foxx for his kindness.
The two actors star in the legal drama “Just Mercy”. Jordan and Foxx appeared on the cover of Variety along with Bryan Stevenson, the man at the centre of the film’s true story.
Jordan, 32, explains how Foxx, 51, protected him from the pitfalls of Hollywood early in his career.
“My parents would hear stories about Hollywood, and there were a lot of reservations on their part about letting me go out there,” Jordan says. “But what met me on the other side in Los Angeles was this community of people like Jamie that genuinely cared about me.”
“It made all the difference in the world,” he continues. “Mistakes that I could easily have made, they made sure I didn’t or scared me away from it.”
Jordan also touches on how the success of Marvel’s “Black Panther” has studios begging for more films centred upon black characters.
“Our industry is very reactive,” Jordan says. “Take ‘Black Panther’. Before it came out, it was Black films don’t travel. They don’t sell internationally. Nobody will come and see an all-black cast. Marvel said, ‘All right, we’re going to put this up.’
“Now watch how many black sci-fi projects are coming out. Everybody sees they’re profitable, and they’re all saying, ‘I want some of that, too.’”
“Just Mercy” tells the story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of defence attorney Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. Foxx says his upbringing in Texas helped him prepare for the role in a film rife with racial tension.
“It allowed me to understand that when they’re saying ‘n***er’ it’s sort of like, very matter-of-fact,” Foxx explains. “It’s just another Tuesday. You have to have that sensibility to understand who this character is.”
There was an inclusion rider placed in Jordan’s contract, guaranteeing a certain degree of racial diversity among the film’s cast and crew. Co-star Brie Larson says this diverse production allowed for some very honest discussions.
“What I remember most is, sitting as a group — cast, filmmakers, crew — and having these incredibly open, vulnerable conversations when the cameras weren’t rolling,” she says. “Conversations that ultimately shaped the course of the filmmaking process in a powerful way.”
“It wouldn’t have been possible in a less inclusive environment,” she assures.
“Just Mercy” premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews. It premieres in theatres on Christmas Day.