Michael B Jordan almost said no to HBO’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, because being a black man he was hesitant to play an “oppressor”.
Fahrenheit 451 depicts a future dystopia that aims to eradicate history by destroying books and condemning anyone who tries to preserve them. Jordan’s character, Guy Montag, is a young fireman who abandons book burning in an effort to restore humanity.
“I wasn’t interested in playing an authoritative figure. With what’s going on in the world with police and my community, being a black man, I didn’t want to play somebody who’s an oppressor. I just didn’t want that in my head. It’s just something that I wasn’t interested in doing.” Jordan said.
The actor said that expanding on the themes of the story changed his mind. “After sitting down with the director Ramin (Bahrani) and knowing Michael Shannon was going to be a part of it — he’s an incredible actor — and understanding the vision and themes and messages he wanted to send through the movie, I was like, ‘Okay’,” he added.
The 31-year-old actor also took the role so that his mom could see one of his characters actually get to win.
“Every time I watched her watch me die on-screen, it tore me up. She would just weep—she’s very emotional, my mom, and I just wanted to play a role so she could see me win. Being a leading man, I didn’t want audiences to keep seeing me die in roles. I wanted to survive through the third act, you know? I couldn’t keep playing that role,” he said.