Jordan, Coogler back together for third time in Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan and film-maker Ryan Coogler on their third collaboration, Black Panther
Their close bond was evident the moment they walked into the room at the Four Seasons hotel in Seoul, South Korea, last week for their joint roundtable interview, breaking the silence with their ribbing and casual demeanour towards each other.
Perhaps US film-maker Ryan Coogler and US actor Michael B. Jordan, both 31, struck up their bromance after working on two movies together previously, biographical drama Fruitvale Station (2013) and the Rocky spin-off and sequel Creed (2015).
Jordan is not the lead this time in Black Panther, their third and latest collaboration, which opens here on Feb 14.
He plays villain Erik Killmonger, a Wakandan exile who becomes an American black-ops soldier and seeks to overthrow T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda.
But did Coogler ever consider casting his regular leading man Jordan for the titular role?
He told The New Paper: "Chad had already been signed up to play the character, which was a concern for me.
"As a film-maker, I have never been in a situation where I inherited a lead actor. So it was something that made me very nervous.
"That said, when I watched (Captain America: Civil War), I was blown away by Chad's performance. I thought he was perfectly cast, it was almost like an alley-oop (a basketball reference that describes a play that combines elements of teamwork, pinpoint passing, timing and finishing).
"He embodies the role in a way that is special."
Coogler added: "In the comic books, Black Panther is exceptional. He is hard to attack, he is so powerful and noble. He is almost like the good version of Star Wars' Darth Vader.
"So I needed an antagonist who could equal that and I knew somebody who could pull that off. Mike can be anybody.
"Things happen for a reason and I truly believe that. Mike is the perfect Erik Killmonger, Chad is the perfect T'Challa, and, in retrospect, I wouldn't do it any other way."
Coogler gushed about three "amazing" actors - Denzel Washington, Will Smith and Wesley Snipes - who "owned" their own movies.
He added: "But you never saw them in the same movie, for whatever reason. I thought it would have been awesome to see them go head to head in movies.
"For our generation, we have Boseman and Jordan. Two great actors who can front their own movies, their own posters, but to see them go head to head, it is an amazing thing. It is like going back to see Denzel against Will."
So Ryan, what are Michael's strengths and weaknesses?
Jordan: Go ahead and say it, man. This is where it gets real (laughs).
Coogler: His strength is his weakness, like it is with everybody. Usually they tend to be related. Mike cares a lot, he wants to be great, the best at everything, and sometimes, he can overwork himself. And that is to the detriment of himself and the film.
So I kind of have to be wary of that. It is something I learnt, working on Creed. If he takes a shot, he is going to tell you he is okay. But I have to watch him and be aware... I will say, 'Let us just take a break, see if that thing swells up'.
The Black Panther movie has a predominantly African or African-American cast. Did that affect your decision to take up this project?
Jordan: Ryan called me and asked if I wanted to have some fun. It was that simple. I said yes even before I read the script.
That was pretty much my decision-making process. It is unique to our relationship. We have a layer of trust, and I know he is not going to put me in a situation where it is not beneficial for me or us.
Coogler: Also, we knew the project had a huge significance on our culture. We wanted to put it in a vehicle that could be relatable and accessible to the people of today.
Killmonger and T'Challa's perspectives present two sides of a conversation. Both are valid arguments, there is truth to both sides. It just depends on what you are taking from it.
Michael, how intense or different was it for you physically to prepare for your role as Killmonger compared to Adonis in Creed?
Jordan: My trainer is walking around somewhere (chuckles). Adonis was a professional boxer, so there was a specific look he needed to have.
But Erik is physically intimidating. He is someone who is able to dish out damage as well as take on damage. Hence, I needed to put on more size. To achieve that, I had to drink more than a gallon of water daily, exercise two to three times a day and eat six meals a day.
Which was your favourite part to shoot?
Coogler: Maybe the most unique thing is that I have never worked on a scene where there were just two white people in it.
I have never done that, not even in film school. I had to do that with Andy (Serkis) and Martin (Freeman). It was a strange thing. I told them that and they made fun of me. We had a lot of fun with that.
Michael, do you like your costume or Chadwick's better?
Jordan: Mine. Gold is dope. It fits in with the character as well. T'Challa is inconspicuous, likes to move silently, but Killmonger doesn't really care.