After shaking off racially charged backlash over his casting as the next Black superhero in a summer blockbuster, magnetic leading man Michael B. Jordan, 28, prepares to leave a trail of fire at the box office. Jordan lends his signature swagger to the Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, to help save the planet in Fantastic Four (August 7). Here, the remarkably humble star pauses for a moment of reflection.
ESSENCE: Johnny Storm is a familiar character and a favorite of movie buffs. How did you make the role your own?
MICHAEL B. JORDAN: I'm a comic book fan. I've been a fan of Fantastic Four and Marvel my entire life. I know the character well. He's charismatic. He's eager to kind of figure himself out. You're going to enjoy it.
ESSENCE: How have you grown as a man as your career has taken flight?
JORDAN: I've been fortunate to grow in my work at the same pace as I've grown as a person—one step at a time. I didn't do too much too fast. It's always a slow burn, a slow build and a slow development. I've always had an old soul about me.
ESSENCE: Did you know your female fans commonly refer to you as Michael "Bae" Jordan?
JORDAN: Yeah, it's funny. I do like it. As a kid, I got teased a lot…being constantly compared to Michael Jordan. With him being such a legend and an icon, it was very frustrating. And now, to hear people take ownership of my name, and there is no confusion, it's a cool feeling.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now!