UPCLOSE: MIKE COLTER
HK Magazine: How did you land the role of Luke Cage? Mike Colter: It was a complicated process. They asked me to come in for the audition, but they don’t give you the entire script, they just tell you some scenes and you work on those scenes without knowing a lot of backstory. One of the scenes they had us read was the one where I find out Jessica Jones had killed my wife. I didn’t know anything about that backstory, so it was very difficult to get into that headspace. I met Krysten Ritter [who plays Jessica Jones] early on and I felt immediately that she looked like she’d just stepped off the pages of a comic book. She had an interesting quality about her, and I thought she brought a great character to life. They ended up casting Krysten and me pretty much simultaneously.
HK: How did you find out about it? MC: I found out when I was on vacation in Paris. Ultimately, when you have this kind of character and you’re able to get the job, it’s a journey in itself and along the way you find out who you are as an actor. I had to ask myself, was I ready to take on this kind of superhero role that was going to be bigger than life, that was going to change my life?
HK: What makes the character interesting to you? MC: This character has abilities that you know are fantastical, and you can only do this in the fantasy world that’s been created. It’s intriguing, but the interesting thing about it is that the character’s powers aren’t front and center. What’s front and center are his life problems and his everyday interactions with people, what he does as a character. It’s not so much his powers that solve his problems, so that’s what really appealed to me—he’s grounded and he’s really just sort of an average guy just trying to find himself in life.
HK: What do you like about him? MC: He’s a thinker, and that’s what I love about [showrunner] Cheo Coker’s take on it. He’s given you this great character, this understanding that this guy is wellread. He’s self-aware and educated. He’s a renaissance man, a character in development, wanting to be better every day, and trying to figure out how to make good decisions because he’s made some bad ones in the past. He’s gotten burnt, and he’s gotten hurt. He lives his life in turmoil. On the outside he’s cool and calm, but when he gets worked up, he knows that he can do a lot of damage. So he tries to keep that part of himself closed off. But he’s also a hopeless romantic.
HK: What’s been the best experience so far? MC: Working around some of these great actors. We have Rosario Dawson, we have Simone Missick, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Frank Whaley… there’s so many great people working on this show. As an actor you rely on them to also inspire you and to give you something to work off of and from. If I know my character and they bring theirs, when it gets on-screen there’s a spark. Luke Cage premieres Sep 30 on Netflix.
Marvel has introduced us to a number of larger-thanlife superheroes, but few have been as superhuman as Luke Cage, with his bulletproof skin and Olympiansized muscles. Ahead of the series premiere on Netflix this weekend, Leslie Yeh sat down with Mr. Superhero himself, Mike Colter, to discuss his inspiration for the character.