Weather Updates

‘Fruitvale’ star on slain man: ‘This could have been me’


Updated: August 17, 2013 6:29AM

Three years before Trayvon Martin died, actor Michael B. Jordan remembers hearing about the killing of another young black man.

Early on New Year’s Day 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot to death in an Oakland, Calif., subway station by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer.

“I was living in L.A. when it happened,” says the actor, 26. “I remember reading about it on Facebook and then saw it on YouTube.

“I was so angry. I thought, ‘It happened again. What can I do to help it or change it?’ Because this could have been me.

“It was so sad. This young guy was just getting his life together. You’re supposed to learn from your mistakes. He didn’t get to learn. He was shot and died.”

Jordan (“The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights”) sighs.

“I guess the only thing I can do is leave this story on screen through my art.”

In “Fruitvale Station,” opening Friday, Jordan plays the young man who died too soon. “I always caught the train between Newark and Manhattan,” he says. “I’d see the cops interact with the intoxicated passengers. It never escalated. What happened to Oscar escalated fast, and then his life was over.”

The film cuts between the last day of Oscar’s life and his fatal shooting. “I was talking to my team and told them I really wanted to do a gritty, indie film. Then I read this script and I remember crying,” he says. “I still have the original script with my tear stains on it.

“When I talked to my agent, I told him, ‘I have to be this guy.’ I met the director, Ryan Coogler, at Starbucks the following week, and by the end of that coffee it was a case of, ‘Let’s make this project.’ ”

Jordan grew up in New Jersey was discovered during a doctor’s appointment. “I was in the waiting room and this woman said, ‘You should get your son into modeling,’ which seemed funny to me. I was this ugly kid with growing pains.

“The next thing I knew, I was on ‘go sees’ and booking jobs like ‘The Cosby Show,’ and then I did ‘The Wire.’ It was the snowball effect,” he says. “I didn’t know if I could do this for a living. But I liked getting out of school early to do jobs.”

There are rumors Jordan, also known for “Chronicle,” will star as Cyborg in the much-awaited “Justice League” film.

“Oh man, I’m a big comic book fan,” he says. “I love that world, but I don’t know if I’m doing it. You can say I’m definitely interested.”

Big Picture News Inc.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.