UP­CLOSE: MIKE COLTER

HK Magazine - - FILM -

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.

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