Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had no idea when I’d ever be interviewing Michael B. Jordan. Not that it’d never happen, but with his trajectory—he’s not only starring in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, an action film that truly showcases Jordan as the leading hero, but he’s producing a number of projects, all while gearing up to direct the third installment of the Creed series—it was hard to imagine when I’d be able to get some time to speak to him. That said, since I’ve been stuck in Jersey trying to survive the coronavirus, I’ve spoken to Michael B. Jordan three times, the latest during a junket for Without Remorse, which is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
The film, which was produced by Paramount Pictures and delayed multiple times due to what the aforementioned pandemic did to the theater industry worldwide, finds Jordan taking on the role of John Clark, a Navy SEAL whose family has been taken from him. Being that he’s a Navy SEAL, and the people who ripped his family apart are also a major threat, Clark takes it upon himself to take them out. It’s not a total reimagination of what Jordan can do, but it definitely puts an action film entirely on his back like never before. It’s also from a familiar world, right? Jordan’s a lifelong gamer, and no doubt spent time on classic gaming titles derived from Tom Clancy’s books like Ghost Recon, right?
But back to Michael B. Jordan and our mission during this Without Remorse junket. We had a few objectives: figure out Jordan’s training regimen, gain intel on his decision to direct Creed III, learn how Lauren London became a part of Without Remorse, and what’s next for John Clark. Here’s how it went down.
You’ve been doing a lot of action movies as of late, but I feel like this film feels like “Michael B. Jordan, action star.” The last trailer we saw, you took on all those dudes rushing into the cell! How does it feel for you to really be the guy in the franchise right now?
It feels great, man. Honestly, I think this feels like a movie that I watched when I was a kid and I was like, “man, I want to do that one day.” That’s the feeling, the vibe I wanted to kind of give off on this one. And being able to do your own stunts. You watch movies like Blade with Wesley [Snipes], [or] Tom Cruise literally being the guy who does all [the] stunts and sets the bar so crazy. For me, on my first one out, I was like, “all right, let me see what I could do with this one.” Having a crazy stunt team that was able to train me, work through these stunts, and feel comfortable enough to have me do the majority of them was something that I hung my hat on.
I’ve watched the behind-the-scenes clips from the Creed films, seeing what you put yourself through to become Adonis. How different was that in becoming John Clark? Was it a similar training?
It’s a different type of training. I think, with Creed, it’s the endurance. It’s boxing shape. To shoot those fights, we’re in there for almost 12 hours shooting a couple of rounds. Boxing matches don’t last a couple of hours. It’s one of those things where we had to train above and beyond what’s realistic in that way, so the training for Creed is intense. When it comes to this [film], it’s different because you’re doing tactical training, you’re doing underwater training in high, stressful situations. Working through malfunctions underwater was intense. You’ve got to walk and talk a different type of way. So I got a vest on with plates and stuff, dealing with the boots and the gear and all that good stuff. It was a different muscle. I would say both intense, just unique to the physique I’m trying to accomplish.
The last time we spoke was right after you played the PS5. So I know you’re a gamer. Now, watching this film, NO SPOILERS, but we can see where this franchise could go. Back in the day, were you aware of this world when the Tom Clancy games were popping off?
Ghost Recon was definitely a game I rocked a lot growing up, so it was familiar, you know what I mean? It was like, “Okay, cool. This is full-circle. OK, this is on the table, let’s do this.” I think that’s the power of video games, and also the power of cinema. No matter if the character was white, or whoever, I was playing as that guy. So I was that guy playing that game. It comes full circle, now it’s like, “Yeah, I could be John Kelly. I was already him when I was 12, 13.” That just is a testament to the power of the mediums that we’re in.
When I spoke to Lauren, she mentioned that you specifically hit her up to play John’s wife, Pam. Talk about the motivation for getting her specifically for that role.
Lauren, she’s [been] a good friend of mine for a minute. I was cool with Nip, or whatever, and obviously, it’s a sensitive time and situation. Especially with her, just out of pure respect, we were trying to think of who would be a good fit for the character. And we miss Lauren on screen.
I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was like, man, this is the craziest idea. She’s probably going to tell me, ‘Mike, get the hell off my phone.’ I was like, I’ve got to ask. As respectfully as possible, [I] asked if she would be into it. So she said, ‘Send me the script.’ She hit me back and she was into it. We had a lot of honest conversations around grief, and a lot of the things that John would be going through and thinking about, and she helped me out tremendously in that department. [She’s also] a really great scene partner. She’s really talented.
So to be able to have those real, honest, loving moments between Pam and John, and also have that be ripped away from you. That was the driving force throughout the rest of the movie. It was really important, and she played a huge part in it.
I appreciate you for that, because a lot of us have loved Lauren’s work for years. When one of the trailers dropped, it was dope to see the outpouring of support and appreciation people had over seeing the two of you in a project, together. Did you see that?
Yeah, man. The idea of us together in that project, and just what that looks like, the representation that’s there, it was a lot of love. I’m just happy people dig the creative decision and are behind us.
I feel like every couple of weeks, there’s word of some project you’re producing or a project you’re directing. Where do you see the future of John Clark going and fitting into your already busy schedule? Is it a situation where you’ve already got the idea and the next projects are coming soon? I don’t want to get anybody in trouble.
No, no, it’s all good. It’s one of those things that, the goal was to make a great movie, something that could stand on its own. But at the same time, we want to do another one. So I think, a Rainbow Six franchise is definitely in the works. I don’t have any real ideas for it because I’m still kind of locked in this, and prepping for Creed III right now. But I think, time permitting, in the near future it’s definitely something that I want to get into and see where John Clark goes next.
I’m glad you mentioned Creed III. You’ve recently spoken about why Sly’s not going to be in the film, and you mentioned in a recent interview that it was because we’re going to be focusing more on Adonis. Doing that in a film that you’re directing for the first time, I have to ask, A) have you had conversations with Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. about what the process will look like, and B) when it comes to the story, is that something you’ve been working on? You playing the character, going through it the last couple of films, is there something you’ve been thinking about that you would want to put into the third film?
There’s a lot that I’ve been daydreaming about for the last few years about where it can go, what I want to see Adonis go through and experience in his family. This one is starting to shape up like an origin story, a trilogy, and a sequel all at the same time. I’m really happy about [where] it’s going. It’s personal, too. [There are] a lot of personal things being folded into this one as well.
And [I’m] definitely talking to Steven and Ryan, and Denzel, and David O. Russell, and Ben Affleck, and all the directors, Stefano [Sollima, Without Remorse director], [everyone] that I’ve been blessed to work with and to get a chance to know over the years. I’m listening to them. They’ve done it before. “What do I need to look out for? Alright, being in front of the camera and behind the camera, what other stresses and obstacles come with that? Alright, cool.” Just trying to be a sponge and listen to as much as I can, but then also trying to have a clearer vision for what I’m trying to do as possible. I’m excited to share it with you guys in a couple of years.