Michael B. Jordan has built a career on weighty roles: from his breakout performance as teen drug dealer Wallace on The Wire, to his portrayal of troubled quarterback Vince on Friday Night Lights, to his star-making turn as real-life shooting victim Oscar Grant III in Fruitvale Station (one of this year’s most glaring Oscar omissions).
So his newest role — as one of three dudes navigating the NYC dating world in bro-mantic comedy That Awkward Moment, co-starring Miles Teller and Zac Efron — is a welcome departure. Turns out the 26-year-old actor is just as natural at charming the ladies and fielding dick jokes onscreen as he is exercising his serious dramatic chops.
Vulture spoke to him about dating, dancing, and what it’s like to punch Zac Efron in the face (“it felt great”).
Michael B. Jordan: What’s up?
I saw the movie last night.
What did you think about it?
It was fun. It was different than the other roles I’ve seen you in.
In the past, I’d imagine you had to go through some deep stuff, psychologically, to get into character. How did you get into character for this part?
It was crazy, because when I shot the film, I’d never had a real girlfriend before. I literally met my now-ex-girlfriend the day I got back from filming, almost a year ago today. And that was the first time I’ve ever worked to make a relationship work out — you know, really put in the [effort]. And it’s not easy. I think the character taught me a lot about relationships: Sometimes you gotta work through the hard stuff and sometimes two people grow apart, and that’s the harsh reality, that’s what love is sometimes … knowing when it’s time to let something go, just realizing something’s not working.
That awkward moment.
That awkward moment! Exactly. And that’s real. So it’s kind of cool to have a movie that mirrors what people will actually go through.
The other two guys in the movie are kind of scoundrels
… Scoundrels! Yeah, I made it out safe [his character is unhappily married]. Tom [Gormican, the director] took care of me; he made sure I was the good guy. I think I’m a good guy. I’m not perfect at all, I’m flawed, I definitely had my fun. Guys, we have our fun, we have our moments, we have our growing pains, our processes — we are hardwired differently from women.
You think so?
For sure. I can say something and then you can tell me what you heard and it’ll probably be two totally different things. I think women have a different process as far as trusting, opening up, feelings, what they want, what their expectations are for guys. And I think guys are just a little slower to come around that curve. We take our time. But when we do fall, we fall hard. So it’s kind of cool to give girls a look [at the male experience] — like, cut us some slack, okay? We’re just different, okay?