How Michael B. Jordan’s Church Upbringing Inspired His Latest Role
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor
Actor Michael B. Jordan says his religious upbringing helped him prepare for his role as Bryan Stevenson in JUST MERCY.
“Faith and hope is a big part of Bryan Stevenson’s upbringing,” Jordan told The Christian Post. “He grew up in the church. I did as well, and so did Jamie [Foxx]. And for all of us, faith is directly connected to hope. Bryan is an advocate for hope and optimism, so those were things that were just very important to the story. That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure that was incorporated.”
According to the Movieguide® review,
JUST MERCY takes place in Monroeville, Alabama, where an African-American lawyer out of Harvard Law makes it his mission to help those who can’t help themselves. Bryan Stevenson pairs up with a local advocate, and together they begin the Equal Justice Initiative. Not wasting time, he takes on many clients on death row, studying their cases and working tirelessly to appeal. One case to grab his attention is that of Johnny D. McMillian, a black man on death row for allegedly raping and killing a young white woman. The only solid evidence against him is the testimony of one white man who is also on trial for murder. Bryan is determined to prove Johnny’s innocence.
JUST MERCY is absorbing and emotionally powerful, successfully tugging at the viewer’s heartstrings. The performances grab and hold the viewer’s attention throughout the movie. JUST MERCY has a strong Christian, moral worldview. There is an ongoing fight for justice and mercy, and a constant appeal to God for guidance and support. However, there’s too much PG-13 rated foul language and mature elements. so MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for JUST MERCY.
Stevenson, who wrote the book JUST MERCY on which the movie is based, is a strong Christian and he heavily relies on his faith.
“My faith influences and shapes everything I do,” the 60-year-old public interest lawyer told The Christian Post. “I remember growing up and the preacher would read from the prophet Micah: ‘What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ That has framed the orientation that I have for work and in the kind of life I want to live.”
Jordan used this faith to inspire his portrayal of Stevenson, and the actor drew on his own experience to play the lawyer.
Jordan, who previously appeared in CREED, BLACK PANTHER and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, has been open about his faith before.
“[I’m] Spiritual. Hands down. Grew up in church. I’ve always been the person to ask, ‘Why, why, why? Where’s the proof?’ I’ve always believed in a higher power, something bigger than myself. I think you would be foolish to not feel that way,” Jordan told Essence in 2014.
He also told the website that he frequently turns to Psalm 23 and 91 for encouragement.
JUST MERCY hits theaters on January 10.