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Mike Colter on What Sets ‘Luke Cage’ Apart From the Rest of the ‘Defenders’

After scene-stealing turns in “The Good Wife,” “The Following,” and “Jessica Jones,” Mike Colter has long seemed destined for leading-man status.  He’ll finally get his chance Sept. 30, when Netflix releases “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” in which Colter stars as a reluctant hero with invulnerable skin.

Has your life changed much since being cast as Luke Cage?

Yeah, I guess so. It’s odd, because I try not to think about my life changing. That sort of stuff makes me nervous and self-aware and self-involved, so I try not to focus on that. It’s a game I play with myself, and I’m pretty good at it. Regardless of things that are going on in the real world, in my head I’m the same person, and things are kind of the same. But yeah, things are changing.

What’s the biggest difference between the Luke we met in “Jessica Jones” and the Luke we see in his own series?

He had a suspicion that getting involved with Jessica was going to be bad news — it wasn’t going to end well. And I think against his better instinct he still wanted to get involved — he allowed himself to get sucked up emotionally and physically.… I think he’s learned his lesson. But then again, Luke is a hopeless romantic, and ultimately he functions better with someone. He always wants to have someone by his side, so that’s his Achilles heel — wanting to find that connection with someone.

What does Luke bring to the Marvel universe and “The Defenders” lineup that sets him apart from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist?

Luke comes with a certain amount of emotional depth. As a black man in today’s culture, what he represents and what he’s dealing with in his own life — being a fugitive on the run but being innocent, but at the same time not feeling sorry for himself — he’s always thinking about the community, and thinking about things in a larger sense in his life. He wants more than just this thing that he’s doing now — it was kind of thrust upon him. He’s very thoughtful about his actions. He has no agenda with his powers. He’s seen what helping out leads to; he doesn’t see the point. It never ends well. He doesn’t have a costume, he doesn’t have a mask, everybody knows who he is. So I think he brings a certain gravitas that says, “I don’t want to rush to judgment about anyone. I don’t want to do anything until we just talk about this, because everything has a consequence.” I see him as the consigliere of the group.

Aside from your work on “Luke Cage” and “The Defenders,” do you have any other projects coming up?

I just wrapped “Girl Trip,” a comedy that I shot in New Orleans. I wanted to do something that was so far away from Luke Cage that I wouldn’t be thinking about that character at all.

What you didn’t know about Mike Colter
AGE: 40; Born: Columbia, S.C.; College: Rutgers University; Cousin: Viola Davis; Studies with Clint: Played boxer Big Willie Little in Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby”

 

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