Michael B Jordan previews what’s to come on PARENTHOOD and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!
If there’s one thing I can say for Michael B Jordan (aside from the multitude of positive adjectives I could throw his way after our chat a few weeks back) – he knows how to find good drama. Just look at the shows he’s had the opportunity to be a part of over the past few years: THE WIRE (Wallace!) and his current gigs – the now-finished filming FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (sigh, Vince) and the week after week tearjerker (in the best way), PARENTHOOD. Along with a recurring part on LIE TO ME (with a bigger role to come, perhaps?), and a part in the upcoming “Red Tails” movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, there’s no question that he is destined for great things as his career continues. Michael and I had the chance to chat about everything recently – what’s up with Hattie and Alex; how satisfied fans will be by the end of life in Dillon, TX; where he stands if Cal Lightman comes back; and just what exactly are the Red Tails? Read on for your chance to learn a little bit more about Michael –
It’s so funny, looking through your resume – everything you’re on, it’s the best stuff on TV! FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, my favorite show on TV. PARENTHOOD, right up there with that. Love LIE TO ME. You name it, you’ve been there.
That is awesome!
I want to start by talking FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS – Season 5 is about to start on NBC and it comes out on DVD [today]. I’m one of those people who hasn’t watched it yet! It’s killing me!
[laughs] You know how hard it is to do an interview with someone who hasn’t seen it yet? Every question, it’s like, OH how do I answer without completely ruining it for you?
I like to make things difficult ha! When we last left the show, for viewers who haven’t had DirecTV, East had beat West, the Lions were on a good run. Where do we start Season 5, in comparison to Season 4?
We have a team. We have chemistry. Season 4, the end of Season 4, was us getting our feet planted in the ground. Getting that lip sweat a little bit. Like, ok, this is what it’s like to actually play as a team and win games. For Vince, it was the first time that he actually felt family. His team was his family; his coach was his father figure. It was a happy time for Vince at the end of Season 4 and that’s where we picked up in the beginning of Season 5. Business as usual. Football season. You know, family. The show as a whole has a really familiar opening to its season. That’s all soon to change over the first few episodes. That’s kind of where we pick up. Him and Jess, the relationship is going strong. His mom’s relationship, she’s doing well. It’s a good place, it’s a really, really good place.
What I love about the show, and what I’ve remarked to everybody that I try to get to watch, is that it makes me cry either good tears or bad tears every episode. Breaks the characters down but builds them up so strongly. Should I expect to cry a lot of good or bad tears this season?
Kleenex should be next to the TiVo. It should be right there. Jason Katims does such a good job with these characters arcs and giving them realistic places to go. There aren’t any decisions you see a character make that you say “oh that would never happen” or “that’s so unlike, Lyla Garrity, or Buddy” or anybody. All of the characters are really true to themselves. Five seasons deep, everybody really knows who their character is. The powers that be, Pete Berg, they trust us. They trust us with those decisions. There are some sad truths out there in Dillon, TX. And there are some happy ones. So that’s why we’re able to make audiences cry and laugh all in one show. Not to give it away, it’s a really, really good season. I think everybody was really satisfied with it. I can’t wait for you to watch it!
A lot of the questions I’ve had – will viewers be satisfied, are the actors satisfied with how their arcs played out?
I think it’s a bittersweet ending. For the fans, they want to see it going on more and more. From an artists’ standpoint, I’d rather leave it and walk away with people wanting more, rather than it be drawn out for 8 seasons and people get tired of it, and the show loses it’s effect. That’s why I’m satisfied with the way it wrapped up. I would love to see Vince have a 6th season, his senior year, going to college, figuring out where he’s going to go, but it was so tastefully done, I think people will be satisfied, if not happy!
Haddie and Alex head to Prom –
I’m also loving PARENTHOOD this season. I was talking to a friend today, and she pointed out that you can tell Alex is someone that Adam would like, he would admire this character, if he wasn’t interested in dating Adam’s teenage daughter!
Exactly! It’s like, oh my god, Alex, you’re the man, but no guy is good enough for his daughter! All fathers feel the same way. It’s his baby girl! No man out there, no father wants to think of some punk having his way; it’s not that Alex is a punk, but he is a punk to Adam, because he’s courting, dating his daughter. I know I’d be a crazy dad, hold a shotgun under the table, when my daughter brings a date over to meet me. It’s going to be the most awkward experience every for him! [laughs]
You completely understand every side of the story because everyone’s been there.
That’s what makes it so tough on Adam. Alex makes it hard on Adam to be mad at him, to not like him. Especially his relationship with Camille. It’s already a family. He’s already familiar with the family already. If the head of the family, the grandmother says he’s okay, he gets a pass, then everyone else should follow suit. It leads to a really, really interesting story. He’s one of those guys – he’s got a lot of layers. He’s 19 years old. He’s been emancipated since he was 16. He’s a recovering alcoholic. Dad’s not around. He’s been on his own for so long, and anybody that’s in AA is completely honest. That’s how they get through the day to day, they’re completely honest. Everything is out on the table, they hold no punches, it is what it is. Alex Mercer is who Alex Mercer is. It helps. It’s a weird honesty that people don’t usually come in contact with, from their day to day. That’s what disarms the Bravermans, the first time that he comes over for dinner, talking to them, he’s really straight up. I think that’s what eventually wins him over. You know what you’re going to get; there’s not going to be any surprises. Later on in the season, as you watch, BAM! Surprises that come out of nowhere. I think you’re going to be pretty happy with the way the season is wrapping up, too, of PARENTHOOD. Jason’s been so good with capturing the American family and real life situations. Shit that happens all the time. I’m blown away sometimes when I read the scripts. It’s like, “oh that so would have happened.” Or “I remember that happening in my family.” Or “I’d be so embarrassed if that happened to me,” stuff like that. I’ve been having such a good time on the show, working with Peter Krause, Craig [T Nelson], Sarah [Ramos], and Lauren [Graham], and Monica [Potter], everybody. Dax [Shepard] and Joy [Bryant]. To go from FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS to PARENTHOOD. I’m spoiled! I don’t know what I’m going to do next.
Is this a role that going into another season, we could still see Alex stick around?
I think it’s definitely left open, if things work out and it’s meant for me to be around next season, I’ll be around. The end of this season is definitely left open for Alex to be around next season.
Switching gears, and speaking of returning next season – another show that I can’t miss on a weekly basis – LIE TO ME.
If it does come back, does your character come back? I get the sense that you’re completely involved now.
I am involved now. That’s another one of those questions that’s up in the air. If the show gets picked up. Tim Roth is one of my idols, someone I’ve looked up to, from an acting standpoint, for basically my entire life. To work one on one with him a scene, to go through the process of putting legs under scenes before we shoot them. It’s something that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life, the rest of my career. It was a dream come true. We had a really good time. It was so much fun. If that show was to come back, and things line up the way they’re supposed to, I’ll be there. I had a really good time over there. Everybody over there is money, on point. I’ve been blessed to work on some really, really good shows, and really great people in a short period of time. I just want to continue doing good work, and continue working with talented people who care about the work just as much as I do! As long as that happens, and I’m always in that type of setting, I’m happy!
I do want to ask you about RED TAILS a bit – tell me a bit about it!
RED TAILS is about the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII, the first African American fighter pilots, period. The story starts off in Italy. Basically, my character, Maurice Williams, fresh out of Tuskegee, new recruit, new to the war, eager to fight. Wants to prove that he’s a man. He’s one of those soldiers that can show what he’s got. One of the eager young pilots. Some of the other pilots take me under their wing, show me the dos and don’ts, really show me what the war is all about. What we’re really fighting for. We’re fighting racism back in the states and fighting the Nazis in Italy. Basically, it’s about 8 fighter pilots and their bond. Their bond throughout the war, the flight missions that we went on, the dog fights that we encountered, the fights against our own government. Our own Air Force, bigotry, the fight against racism. Just to be equal on so many different fields. We finally got our chance to fly in WWII and we were damn near perfect. We never lost a bomber to enemy aircraft period, through the entire world. It’s something that the Red Tails, the Tuskegee Airmen, are honored for, for being damn near perfect. When we first got to the war, we weren’t allowed to see any action. We spent the first 8 months practicing, training ourselves. For a lot of the white pilots that were coming straight out of flight camp, they would come to the war and be shot down. They didn’t have flight experience, they didn’t have the air combat training but all we did is trained against one each other, and make each other better. We were veterans before we ever went out on our first mission. So that’s an edge that the Tuskegee Airmen had over everybody else. They were wondering why we were so good, why we had the skills, it’s because we had a year, damn near, to get better. We had the worst of the worst planes; hand me downs. We had to steal parts from the trucks, to get our flights in order. Once they started losing bombers, they had no choice but to ask us to fly in the bombers because they were losing bombers at an alarming rate. Eventually, when their backs were against the wall, and they had no one else to fight, they gave us a chance, and we were excelling and exceeding expectations by the ton. They finally gave us new equipment, new aircraft, new planes, and the rest is history, no matter how much they might try to sweep it under the rug. So, kudos to George Lucas for actually telling the story and shedding some light on the subject that never got attention. The whole experiment is something that is really deep. All the scandal, there’s a lot that goes on, that a lot of people don’t know. Pick up a book, get on the internet, get some information. It’s a great subject!
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Season 5 comes out on DVD TODAY and premieres on NBC next Friday, April 15. PARENTHOOD’s all new episode “New Plan” is airing tonight at 10/9c. LIE TO ME is available on Hulu.com. RED TAILS should be out sometime this year!