10 Fascinating Facts About Michael B. Jordan

Barry Wetcher, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Barry Wetcher, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Since making his acting debut in an episode of The Sopranos in 1999 and breaking out as Wallace, a guilt-ridden drug dealer in The Wire, in 2002, Michael B. Jordan has gone on to star in several Ryan Coogler-helmed films, including Black Panther, Fruitvale Station, and Creed.

Jordan has proven his versatility as an actor in dramas as well as comedies, such as That Awkward Moment, and even TV soaps, like All My Children. The 31-year-old actor has made it clear that he’s here to stay, and we’re not complaining. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Creed II star.

1. The “B” stands for Bakari.

Michael B. Jordan was named after his father, Michael A. Jordan, and although he has no plan to continue the tradition should he have a son, his middle initial is pretty cool. The “B” stands for Bakari, which means “of noble promise” in Swahili.

2. He had no intention of becoming an actor.

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther (2018)
Disney/Marvel Studios

Although Jordan is one of the biggest names in Hollywood today, he didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming an actor. While leaving a doctor’s appointment one day, he and his mother met someone whose own kids were doing some modeling, which gave Jordan’s mom an idea. She took him to an audition, and he quickly booked a commercial. Then another. He did a bit of modeling, too, appearing in advertisements for companies such as Modell’s Sporting Goods and Toys ‘R’ Us. Those gigs led to a small role on The Sopranos, which is when Jordan started thinking bigger.

"I kinda got into it, and it just sort of elevated,” he told Inside Jersey. “It wasn't something that I always wanted to do. But like a lot of kids, you know, I didn't know what I wanted to be. And modeling, acting, it got me out of school early, got me a chance to go into the city, so I was all into that.”

3. He credits much of his success to luck.

Though it would be hard to reach the level of success Jordan has without talent, he believes that it has a lot to do with luck as well. When discussing a rash of upcoming projects (including Fantastic Four and Creed) with Inside Jersey in 2015, the actor—who grew up in Newark—credited much of his success to being in the right place at the right time.

“I wish I could take credit for a lot of it, but the roles that were in front of me were in front of me,” Jordan said. “I've just somehow managed to string together this career that's allowed me to push forward and grow. A lot of it's luck—but I know it's up to me to make the right decisions.”

4. People still want to talk to him about The Wire.

J.D. Williams and Michael B. Jordan in 'The Wire'
HBO

In 2002, Jordan landed a plum part in The Wire, playing a 16-year-old drug dealer named Wallace who struggles with the violence and other harsh realities that come with his occupation. Though—*spoiler alert*—Jordan didn’t make it to season two, his character made a powerful impact. “Wallace was the heart of the show,” Jordan said in All the Pieces Matter, Jonathan Abrams’s oral history of the series, which was released earlier this year.

“To see that end so viciously with his two boys, his two best friends … That death scene is something people always come up to me and talk about and say how they were crying and how much it affected them,” Jordan continued. “Years later. It’s just a testament to the writing and the crazy performance. It was awesome.”

5. He asked his mom to stay away on his final day of filming The Wire.

As Jordan was still a teen while filming The Wire, his mom was often there on set with him on shooting days. In speaking with Abrams, he recalled how he asked his mom not to come to his final day of filming—as he knew that it was going to be an emotionally taxing day. He told Abrams:

“I kind of knew it was coming. Especially when you get that knock on your trailer door from David Simon. I’ll never forget it. He said ‘I love you. The audience loves you. We’ve got to kill you. We’ve got to kill you off.’ I remember telling my mom not to show up on set that day. My mom gets extremely emotional, and this was kind of too much. I didn’t want her to see it. It was a long time to shoot that shot. We definitely overshot that for sure. I remember them having to duct-tape the windows, so the lights wouldn’t go through, because we were going so late into the night, to the morning. But it was really quiet. The crew knew.

Everybody showed up. Even if they weren’t working, they kind of showed up on set. I know Andre Royo did, for sure. He was definitely a mentor of mine on that show. He showed up to help me get into the mindset and really talk me through it. I remember getting the squib under my shirt. They had a tube running down my leg with warm water for when he peed himself, when he got scared and sh**. Me and J.D. Williams, who played Bodie, we’re both from Newark, New Jersey, and we both spent a lot of time on that show together, and I learned a lot from him over that show. We was just talking to each other, and then [when we started shooting the scene] it was like I didn’t even know him.”

6. He was considered for two Marvel roles before he was cast in Fantastic Four.

Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara in 'Fantastic Four' (2015)
Ben Rothstein, Marvel Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Although 2015’s Fantastic Four was a complete flop, Jordan thankfully got another chance to act in a Marvel film, scoring the role of Eric Killmonger in Black Panther. But before all of that, the actor was considered for the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), which ultimately went to his Chronicle co-star Dane DeHaan, and for Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), a role that went to Anthony Mackie. It was clearly fate for Jordan to be in a superhero film ... or two.

7. he NEARLY quit acting.

In a recent cover story interview with Vanity Fair, Jordan recalled how he struggled after moving to Los Angeles and came very close to quitting the acting game altogether. “I remember when I first came to L.A., and me and my mom, we went to all these agencies trying to get representation and they passed on me,” Jordan recalled. "WME passed on me, CAA passed on me, Gersh, all these guys f***ing passed on me.” Jordan came close to calling it a day on his acting career altogether, but then he bumped into Andre Royo—who played Bubbles on The Wire—at a party, who helped him look at his situation from a different perspective.

“He was stressed out,” Royo said. “He was like, ‘Yo, I’m not working enough, sh*t is crazy, I think I’m going to go back to New York.’ And he was really on some ‘boo-hoo’ sh*t. And I was like, ‘Yo dog, are you kidding me right now? You in your early 20s and you’re around motherf***ers trying to feed families who ain’t working. Snap out of it.’”

Fortunately, Jordan listened.

8. He lives with his parents.

While it might seem like an adult living with their parents would be due to financial problems, it’s kind of the opposite for Jordan. While on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the actor explained how it was always his dream to buy his parents a home. In 2015, he fulfilled that, purchasing a mansion in Los Angeles for the whole family to live in.

9. He’s obsessed with comics and anime.

In a feature on Jordan from DuJour, he was described as a “closeted nerd,” as he told the publication he spends his free time collecting graphic novels and watching anime. He also uses social media to talk about both subjects, and has called anime his “guilty pleasure,” though he backtracked and jokingly changed it to "women" instead.

10. He plans to become a "one-man movie studio."

Like many actors before him, Jordan knows that the best way to shape his future in Hollywood is to secure a place behind the camera as well as in front of it. As such, he has started producing some of his own work—he served as an executive producer on both Fahrenheit 451 and Creed II—and has plans to take his behind-the-scenes work even further.

“I want to create projects for Brad Pitt, but at the same time I want to be able to create a movie for Will Smith, or Denzel, or Lupita, or Tessa,” Jordan told Vanity Fair. “It’s gonna be eclectic. It’s gonna be animation. It’s gonna be non-scripted. It’s gonna be digital. It’s gonna be film, television. It’s gonna be video games.”

10 Facts About DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story For Its 15th Anniversary

Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox

June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.

1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.

DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.

"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."

2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.

To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.

3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)

4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.

The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.

"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.

5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.

Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."

"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.

6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.

Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.

7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.

Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme. 

8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.

The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”

After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"

9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.

By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.

“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.

10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.

In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.

During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.

Game of Thrones Director Said He Wanted to 'Kill Everyone' During the Battle of Winterfell

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan, HBO

Now that Game of Thrones is over, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of the episodes, particularly “The Long Night.” While the Battle of Winterfell may have been nerve-wracking to watch, there ended up being surprisingly fewer deaths than fans expected, considering the living were fighting the entire army of the dead.

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the episode, was no beginner with battle scenes before taking on “The Long Night,” as he was also responsible season 6's iconic “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as the memorable season 5 episode “Hardhome.” While his list of Game of Thrones accomplishments is long, it turns out that Sapochnik's choices haven't always been in line with what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want.

According to IndieWire, Sapochnik’s aesthetic choices, such as the decision to shoot shoot Cersei and Tommen shadowed by prison-like bars to represent Tommen’s imprisonment in season 5, were not favored by the showrunners. “[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik revealed at the time. Because of disagreements like this, the pair “visually policed” the director.

There was a difference of opinion between the director and the creators again for “The Long Night,” Sapochnik revealed on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill everyone,” the director said, as reported by Esquire. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

Ultimately, Sapochnik gave in to Benioff and Weiss’s plan for the episode, and the Battle of Winterfell had far fewer casualties than most of the series's other battle scenes.

[h/t Esquire]

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