Known for his portrayal of Erik Killemonger, the anti-hero in Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan said his latest starring role in the new adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is well-timed to the Trump era.
Jordan told The Daily Beast that although Bradbury’s seminal novel depicting a book-burning dystopia was written in response to McCarthyism and the Red Scare, many of the book’s themes ring true today.
“Those things may have always been present, but we have somebody, our current tenant, who is very vulgar,” the actor said, referencing President Donald Trump. “So now it’s more in your face.”
HBO’s film adaptation of the novel also places Jordan’s character, Guy Montag, in a more modern era. The story follows Montag as he goes from a hawkish defender of his knowledge-controlling government to book-saving revolutionary.
Jordan told the Beast he initially turned down the role for its initial depiction of Montag’s brutal rounding up of dissidents, known as “eels,” because he assumed they would be black and brown. When director Ryan Coogler told the actor the dissidents (and victims of the film’s dystopian government in general) would be of all races, however, Jordan decided to take it.
“I was like, ‘Oh shit,’” he told the Beast. “I, Mike, am so programmed and desensitized and trained to feel and think that way because it’s so relevant, with the police brutality in my community, and the shootings. I was so conditioned to think and feel that way, I was like, man, that’s even more reason why I need to take this role.”
He went on to call one of the novel’s main conceits — that Benjamin Franklin founded the first fire department not to put out fires but to cause them — “the first fake news.”