“It was shocking,” says Michael B. Jordan about his surprise Best Actor win at the National Society of Film Critics. “It kind of came out of nowhere, and it was the perfect way to kick off 2016. It was some good news to hear in the new year.”
During our recent video chat (watch it below), Jordan spoke about his role in Ryan Coogler’s “Creed,” a continuation of the “Rocky” franchise in which the former Heavyweight champ (Sylvester Stallone) becomes a trainer and mentor to the son of his old friend and rival Apollo Creed.
Coogler first approached Jordan with his reimagining while the two were shooting “Fruitvale Station” (2013). “He told me about his personal connection to the story,” Jordan explains. “I was really excited to be able to help tell that story, to help get that vision from him out there.” Once “Fruitvale” became a hit with critics and audiences, Coogler’s next project was suddenly a hot property. “It kind of happened very fast, from idea to starting to shoot the project.”
The role required Jordan to undergo extensive physical training to convincingly portray a boxer. “I wanted to be treated like a fighter, not an actor,” he explains. “I wanted to be as method as possible. As much as Ryan and the studio felt comfortable with me doing, I was down to train with pro fighters … and their actual trainers, and really start a routine.” It took a year of learning the ropes — as well as adhering to a strict regimen of dieting and exercise — before the actor felt ready to lace up the gloves.
Jordan’s win at the NSFC gives him a well-timed boost in a crowded Best Actor field. Could he have a shot at the title?
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“Creed” photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures