Michael B. Jordan Talks About Playing the Human Torch, Stan Lee’s Support for His Casting, Training For Creed, and More

Who's seeing Fantastic Four tonight?

Today marks the end of the wait for Fantastic Four fans everywhere. It’s also a milestone in Michael B. Jordan’s career. The Friday Night Lights actor grew up a fan of the Human Torch, so the fact that he got to play one of his favorite childhood characters is unreal.

Michael B.—along with Brandon Marshall, Carli Lloyd, and Karl-Anthony Towns—participated in a panel put on by DICK’s Sporting Goods and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation last week. At the Sports Matter panel, Michael B. dished on how sports have impacted his life, as well as the necessity of sports to public school education. We caught up with him after to ask about his powerful Black Lives Matter speech at this year’s BET Awards, how he got his body right for Creed, and what it was like saying “Flame on!” for the first time while filming Fantastic Four.

Find out what Michael B. had to say in the Q&A below, and go see him play Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, out today.

How have sports impacted your life?

Sports impacted me on a day-to-day basis, teaching me time management and work ethic. I never knew I was going to be an actor. I knew I wasn’t going to the NBA or anything like that, but it was something to build character. It taught me how to be responsible, how to collaborate with teammates, not be selfish, and the list goes on. I couldn’t even imagine life without it.

Your BET Awards speech about Black Lives Matter received a lot of attention. How did you prepare for that?

I think people could tell that I was real nervous about that one. It’s something that I’m so extremely passionate about, and I try to find the right opportunities to be honest about it without being too preachy. BET approached me. They wanted me to say the piece, and I was honored to be that guy to speak about it. It’s getting more and more challenging as events keep happening in the world, so it’s something that needed to be said. It’s not going to be the last time that we have to address those issues and talk about it, sadly enough.

It stuck out that night for a lot of people.

Yeah, it was cool. Next time I’m definitely putting everything in my own words. I think it will flow better. But it was an honor to be a part of it.

Let’s talk about Creed. Do you have any favorite memories from filming?

Working with [Sylvester Stallone] because we shot all of the boxing scenes first. It would have been too crazy to shoot dramatic scenes and then go back to boxing, which is such an intense thing. But honestly, the first time we were in the ring, I went around the corner and it was Rocky, Sly, sitting in the corner. I was like, “This is crazy.” It was also the first time I think I took a real punch.

What was training for the movie like? Had you boxed before?

I boxed a little bit growing up, but nothing to really speak of. It was my first real, hardcore crash course in boxing. I’ve known about the project for, maybe, two and a half years, so it was something I have been slowly, secretively developing and working out and training for, trying to get as close as I could be to a real fighter. I don’t want anybody to see me as an actor. I sparred with Andre [Berto] in the day, I went to tons of gyms and just watched real boxers. I’m really excited about it. I think you guys are going to like it.

Well, we all liked the trailer.

I put on a lot of weight. A diet was everything. A lot of brown rice, a lot of chicken, and a lot of broccoli. That and a gallon and a half of water every day, and just working out two, three times [a day], just boxing and just everything. It was fun. It was intense, but it was fun.

What was your experience filming Fantastic Four?

Me being a big comic book guy, growing up a big fan of Marvel and animation, to be able to live out a childhood fantasy, like who am I? It’s like make-believe playing your favorite character. For me to actually play Johnny Storm was pretty cool. The first time I set flame was pretty cool. That was a moment for me.

Was it awkward or natural saying “Flame on!” for the first time?

It wasn’t awkward. It was something the cast and the crew all knew was coming. Everybody knew on the side what I was about to say, so they were all waiting for it. Then I said it and there was a nice little round of applause. It was like the official moment I took over the character.

How’s your relationship with Stan Lee? He was your champion for a moment there after the negative reactions to your casting.

I never met Stan, but his support in his interviews was deeply felt by me. I love that he’s so progressive and forward-thinking and definitely accepts the world for what it is right now, and wants his properties and films to reflect that. I was thrilled to hear that he was on-board and for his support in the decision from the get-go.

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