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10 Actors to Watch: Michael B. Jordan Arrives With ‘Fruitvale Station’

Star steps up with first leading role as Oscar Grant in Sundance-winning indie drama.

“I’m trying to find moments that I can make memorable,” says Michael B. Jordan, who, at age 26, has already delivered several unforgettable examples. Acting since adolescence, Jordan fell in love with the craft while shooting a scene for “The Wire,” in which his character, an inner-city kid, starts sniffing cocaine. “That was the first time I let go and lost myself in a role,” he says.

Over the past decade, Jordan has cultivated an impressive fledgling career, from recurring turns in “All My Children,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood,” to notable performances in Hollywood ensembles “Chronicle” and “Red Tails,” culminating in his extraordinary first starring role in “Fruitvale Station,” as Oscar Grant, the young man shot by police at an Oakland subway stop in 2009.

“I really meditated a lot,” says Jordan, reflecting on his intense death scene. “I would talk to myself, and I would talk to Oscar, and that focused me.”

After making his name playing more stereotypical black characters, Jordan is now proactively seeking “colorless roles,” he says, “the kind that Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t have the time for.” Focusing on dramas and action — “a la the ‘Bourne’ series” — he’s already committed to “Creed,” a “Rocky” spin-off for “Fruitvale” director Ryan Coogler, and there are rumors he could play the Human Torch in Josh Trank’s upcoming “Fantastic Four” remake. (“I honestly don’t know what going’s on,” he says, “but it would be fun.”). He also harbors dreams of working with other up-and-coming auteurs, such as Ben Affleck and Nicolas Winding Refn.

While he admits it’s a challenge to get higher-ups to accept him as a mainstream leading man, “it’s getting easier now with ‘Fruitvale,’ ” he says. “I think the lane is wide open for me right now.”

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