MICHAEL B. JOR­DAN, NOW A HOL­LY­WOOD HEAVY­WEIGHT, PUNCHES UP

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If Michael B. Jor­dan’s path to this mo­ment was con­densed and edited, it might look, ap­pro­pri­ately, like a train­ing mon­tage.

Im­ages of Jor­dan cut­ting his teeth on the Bal­ti­more streets of “The Wire” and the Texas foot­ball fields of “Fri­day Night Lights,” fol­lowed by hints of a soar­ing tal­ent (“Red Tails,”“Chron­i­cle”), shat­ter­ing break­throughs (“Fruit­vale Sta­tion”) and set­backs (“Fan­tas­tic Four”) be­fore reach­ing, with a pair of hay­mak­ers (“Creed,”“Black Pan­ther”), heavy­weight sta­tus.

Par­al­lel to Jor­dan’s steady rise has been the 31-year-old’s ex­pand­ing sway be­hind the scenes in Hol­ly­wood. His pro­duc­tion com­pany,

Out­lier So­ci­ety Pro­duc­tions, was among the first to em­brace the in­clu­sion rider, adopt­ing the pledge to seek di­verse casts and crews just days af­ter Frances McDor­mand ref­er­enced it at the Os­cars. Jor­dan was also in­flu­en­tial on a sim­i­lar agree­ment by Warn­erMe­dia, mak­ing Warner Bros. the sole ma­jor stu­dio thus far to sign up.

“He’s al­ways been a big-idea guy,” says Ryan Coogler, who di­rected Jor­dan in “Fruit­vale Sta­tion,”“Creed” and “Black Pan­ther.”“He’s al­ways been con­scious of his own re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

“Creed II,” which opens in the­aters Wed­nes­day, finds Jor­dan’s char­ac­ter, Ado­nis Creed — like the ac­tor, him­self — ad­just­ing to his new­found promi­nence: reach­ing the pin­na­cle of his pro­fes­sion while still hav­ing to fight for what he be­lieves in. As Steven Caple Jr.’s box­ing drama pre­pared to open in the­aters, Jor­dan went doorto-door in Ge­or­gia urg­ing peo­ple to vote in the midterm elec­tions.

“You’ve been do­ing one thing for 20 years. Con­stantly work­ing at it, try­ing to grow and be­come suc­cess­ful, or what­ever your ver­sion of suc­cess is. And then you have a mo­ment in time where ev­ery­thing seems to be com­ing to­gether at the same time. Ev­ery­thing seems to be hap­pen­ing. But you live in a so­ci­ety, in a world that’s kind of go­ing to s---,” Jor­dan said in a re­cent in­ter­view. “So to be able to use one to help the other, is some­thing. To try to find your voice.”

It’s an an­swer with shades of Jor­dan’s typ­i­cal per­for­mance: earnest, thought­ful, tinged with pain. Then he ex­hales.

“I don’t know, man,” says Jor­dan. “Hon­estly, there’s a lot go­ing on right now and I’m try­ing to find my place in all of it, pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.”

A big part of Jor­dan’s quest was “Black Pan­ther,” in which he played Erik Kill­mon­ger. The part is os­ten­si­bly a vil­lain, but in Jor­dan’s hands, Kill­mon­ger — a wounded, fa­ther­less war­rior bent on repa­ra­tions through vi­o­lence — has a depth un­com­mon if not out­right alien to comic-book films. Be­tween Kill­mon­ger and the Wakanda leader T’Challa (Chad­wick Bose­man) is a larger di­a­logue, one fraught with his­tory, be­tween African iden­tity and the African di­as­pora.

“Mak­ing a movie, you rarely come out the other side the same. You either grow or regress. I came out a dif­fer­ent man,” says Coogler. “The con­ver­sa­tion that was had be­tween T’Challa and Kill­mon­ger, what it means to be African — I didn’t know I needed that movie as much as I did un­til af­ter I made it. I look back and I say: ‘Man, I re­ally needed that. I needed that con­ver­sa­tion.’”

The per­for­mance has made Jor­dan one of this year’s lead­ing sup­port­ing ac­tor con­tenders for the Academy Awards. Coogler praises his friend’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity in a com­pli­cated role.

“He was one of the few African-Amer­i­can char­ac­ters and he was car­ry­ing the weight of that cul­tural rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” says Coogler. “Mike brings a lot of the em­pa­thy with him, as a per­son and as a per­former. That’s one of the things that makes him spe­cial. Al­most as soon as you see him, you em­pathize with him.”

Just as “Creed II” is open­ing in the­aters, “Black Pan­ther” is re­turn­ing to them. On Nov. 27, it screens for free in art­house the­aters na­tion­wide, a few months af­ter wrap­ping up its $1.35 bil­lion run world­wide. “Black Pan­ther,” the year’s big­gest do­mes­tic block­buster and most res­o­nant cul­tural event, left a mark on Jor­dan.

“Play­ing Kill­mon­ger, car­ry­ing that op­pres­sion, that feel­ing of be­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the African di­as­pora, I felt a cer­tain pres­sure and re­spon­si­bil­ity to get it right. That was a very ma­tur­ing process for me,” Jor­dan says. “To be very un­apolo­getic, I had to play that role.”

A se­quel to the ac­claimed 2015 spinoff (it grossed $173.6 mil­lion world­wide on a $35 mil­lion bud­get), “Creed II” was fast-tracked by MGM in part to cap­i­tal­ize on the suc­cess of “Black Pan­ther” and Jor­dan’s grow­ing pro­file. Caple, whose fea­ture de­but was the 2016 in­die film “The Land,” had his first meet­ing with pro­duc­ers around Thanks­giv­ing last year. By the first week of Jan­uary, he was in Philadel­phia get­ting ready to shoot.

Caple pre­served and ex­panded upon Coogler’s nat­u­ral­is­tic ap­proach, and the film’s best scenes un­lock raw in­ti­ma­cies out­side the ring. Es­pe­cially no­table is the chem­istry be­tween Jor­dan and Tessa Thomp­son, who plays Ado­nis’ girl­friend (“Mike feeds off of Tessa a lot,” says Caple), and the sur­pris­ing pathos of the fa­ther­son re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ivan Drago (Dolph Lund­gren) and Vik­tor Drago (Flo­rian Mun­teanu). In an echo of “Rocky IV,” the younger Drago is Ado­nis’ foe this time.

Caple cred­its Jor­dan for the film’s emo­tional au­then­tic­ity.

“He’s gen­uine. Then you meet him in per­son and you re­al­ize he’s the same way in real life. You can’t act that or fake that. He used that as a ve­hi­cle to get where he is to­day,” says Caple. “Right now, he’s ex­pand­ing on that with his busi­ness, with his pro­duc­tion com­pany, with his brand, and still be­ing for the peo­ple in many ways.”

Jor­dan re­cently fin­ished shoot­ing “Just Mercy,” in which he stars as civil rights de­fense at­tor­ney Bryan Steven­son. The Warner Bros. pro­duc­tion was the first Jor­dan made with the in­clu­sion pol­icy in place.

“The set, the crew was very di­verse, all very ca­pa­ble. It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence. Hope­fully other stu­dios and other pro­duc­tions will fol­low our lead and de­mand the same thing from their sets,” says Jor­dan. “Change takes time. It’s a small step, but it’s the first step. I’m not ex­pect­ing Rome to be built in a day.”

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