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When you have the perfect pairing of actor and role, the result is magical. But sometimes the actor's process and the nature of the role itself can take a major toll. That seems to have been the case with actor Michael B. Jordan and his role as Killmonger in Black Panther. The actor was kind of messed up and seriously depressed after filming, as he explained:
It was one of those things that I didn't know what was going on. I never was in a character for that long of a period of time and was, I guess, that dark, that lonely, that painful. So coming out of it, I thought, 'Oh yeah, business as usual. I can just go back home, I'll cut my hair off, and everything will be back to normal.' I found myself kind of in the routine of being isolated and went out of my way to make sure I was by myself and didn't say too much more than the usual. Once I got finished wrapping the movie, it took me some time to talk through how I was feeling and why I was feeling so sad and like a little bit depressed.
It sounds like playing Killmonger had a profound effect on the actor, and it got him into a funk that took a while to shake. Michael B. Jordan usually plays the protagonist, and as he told Bill Simmons on The Ringer's The Bill Simmons Podcast, he had never been in a role like Killmonger for as long as he was. So Jordan wasn't entirely prepared for how it would stay with him.
Every actor has his or her own process, but for Michael B. Jordan, he felt that he had to go to a dark place to achieve the emotionality of Killmonger's character. That process resulted in an iconic villain performance, but it was also something that stayed with the actor after filming was wrapped, resulting in him sad and depressed.
Michael B. Jordan thought that by finishing the movie, getting back to normal life, and cutting his hair would allow him to step out of the darkness that playing Killmonger required. But it wasn't that simple. The outcast Wakandan was full of pain and anger and to play that, Michael B. Jordan had to feel-- and those aren't emotions you can just turn off with the flip of a switch.
Fortunately, Michael B. Jordan was eventually able to get out of that depressing Killmonger mindset. When asked how long it took, he responded:
About a month. Just kind of like getting back to just doing regular things, being around my friends and family, like really being around and being present, not just being in the room but being present and engaging. And just talking things out that I've never really kind of talked through.
For Michael B. Jordan, it seems that just being back in his regular life wasn't enough, he had to make a conscious effort to engage with friends and family and talk things out in order to force the Killmonger out of him. The actor also told Bill Simmons that he talked to a therapist a few times to help get him through it.
Actors like Michael B. Jordan who takes a more method approach, getting emotionally into the headspace of their character. And for Jordan's villainous Killmonger, it took a toll. Killmonger was a villain, but he was also someone in a great deal of pain, who had a justified sense of anger at the inequities in the world and the sins of the past. That's what made him a compelling villain, and Michael B. Jordan's approach to the character delivered on that.