Michael B. Jordan has taken Hollywood by storm since he earned raves as police shooting victim Oscar Grant III in Ryan Coogler’s 2013 independent hit Fruitvale Station.
The duo formed one of Hollywood’s most productive collaborations since then, with Jordan serving as Coogler’s muse in films like 2015’s critically acclaimed Creed and Marvel’s 2018 smash hit Black Panther, up for multiple statuettes at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
With a track record that good, you bet we’re thrilled for much more.
Critics celebrated Jordan’s ability to turn in performances both sensitive and furious and that’s been no more evident than in his role as the villainous Erik Killmonger in the superhero film. Every actor delves into their own toolbox to create characters that are both committed and authentic, and Jordan says that in order to capture Killmonger’s mindset, he chose to isolate himself from friends, family and co-stars at the beginning of filming.
“I figured Erik [Killmonger], his childhood growing up was pretty lonely,” said the actor during a February 5 taping of Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul Conversations.
“He didn’t have a lot of people he could talk to about this place called Wakanda that didn’t exist.”
— Dr. Janina Scarlet (@ShadowQuill) February 7, 2019
Jordan says he sought therapeutic help after filming wrapped.
“I went to therapy, I started talking to people, started unpacking a little bit. Honestly, therapy, just talking to somebody just helped me out a lot.”
Noting that Killmonger is a representation of the struggle against black oppression, he added:
“Of course it’s an extreme, exaggerated version of the African diaspora from the African-American perspective so to be able to take that kind of pain and rage and all those emotions that Erik kind of represents from being black and brown here in America…that was something I didn’t take lightly.”
Jordan wouldn’t consider what he did part of a “process,” however.
“I didn’t have a process,” he told Winfrey at one point.
“I just did whatever I felt I needed to do or whatever I felt was right in the moment every step of the way.”
“I didn’t have an escape plan, either.”
Fans have praised Jordan for speaking out about his struggles with mental health.
@michaelb4jordan @michaelb4jordan i thought I was the only one who felt isolated and angry after watching #BlackPanther I understand… Thanks for being open with Oprah and sharing your message @michaelb4jordan
— Victoria Ortiz (@VictoriaM0rtiz) February 6, 2019
Michael B Jordan says he’s an empath. Such a great convo w Oprah
— leigh haber (@leighhaber) February 5, 2019
Aww ???? poor Michael it happens to the best of us. It’s cool that you took care of that though. And I hope that you’re better now. Know that you’re so much more than you’ll ever know life just gives you the/an opportunity to see that. God bless you all no matter what. Be safe
— Thatgirlgenius (@Thatgirlgenius) February 7, 2019
I love what Michael B jordan said about seeking therapy. That men and specifically Black men get a lot of SLACK for seeking it and that he doesn't subscribe to that nonsense.
— Jason (7 Oscar nom Black Panther 64+ awards) (@EscaflowneClown) February 6, 2019
I think going to therapy is ok. Why is that judged? We don’t know what’s in that man’s Head. And Killmonger had no heart.
— Tim LaRon Spruill (@ItsaTimocracy) February 8, 2019
Jordan is far from the first actor to have experienced a mental health crisis while getting into character for a film role.
Perhaps the most infamous example in recent years is that of the late Heath Ledger, who reportedly became so consumed by the role of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight that he fell into a deep depression.
The actor’s sister, Kate Ledger, disputed that notion, telling an audience at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 he was definitely “having fun” during filming.
“Every report was coming out that he was depressed and that [the role] was taking this toll on him, and we’re going, honestly, it was the absolute opposite. It couldn’t be more wrong,” she said at the time.
“He had an amazing sense of humor, and I guess maybe only his family and friends knew that, but he was having fun. He wasn’t depressed about the Joker!”
We wish Jordan the best on his mental health journey. There’s enough of a crushing stigma out there and we applaud his choice to get help.