Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman made for an iconic hero-villain pairing in last year’s superhero blockbuster “Black Panther,” but their careers have been intertwined since 2003. Following his breakout role on the first season of “The Wire,” a 16-year-old Jordan joined the cast of the ABC soap opera “All My Children” in the role of Reggie Porter. Jordan took over the role from Boseman, who played Porter for just one week. The casting swap is hardly breaking news, but the reason why it happened was finally revealed by Boseman during a joint interview with Jordan for the latest edition of The Wrap’s awards season magazine.
“It’s one of those things where you get a role, and you don’t really know,” Boseman said. “When I got it, I was like, ‘This is not part of my manifesto. This is not part of what I want to do. How can I make it work?’ Because with a soap opera, you don’t know the full scope of what’s gonna happen — you don’t know where they’re gonna take the character, because they don’t always know where the character is going. And because of that, there’s possibly room for me to adjust this and change it and make it so it’s stereotypical on the page but not on the screen.”
Boseman had some issues with the way Reggie Porter was written using racial stereotypes. In the “All My Children” storyline, Reggie was a young gang member who was adopted by Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) and her husband, Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey). Boseman did not agree with how the writers wanted to portray Reggie on the program, and he wrestled with speaking up or not, a major decision considering “All My Children” was his first acting credit.
“I remember going home and thinking, ‘Do I say something to them about this? Do I just do it?’ And I couldn’t just do it,” Boseman said. “I had to voice my opinions and put my stamp on it. And the good thing about it was, it changed it a little bit for [Jordan]. They said, ‘You are too much trouble,’ but they took my suggestions, or some of them. And for me, honestly, that’s what this is about.”
Jordan replaced Boseman as Reggie and ended up staying with “All My Children” for nearly three years. The “Creed” actor said he was hearing about Boseman’s firing for the first time during The Wrap interview and he acknowledged he had no idea at the time that Boseman’s decision to stand up for the character would affect the kind of role being offered to him.
“It’s hard to speak in the moment about how things we do can affect other people. But this is a pure example, right here on the spot — we ain’t never talked about this before a day in our lives — to understand how what people do now can directly affect what other people do in the future,” Jordan said. “And the work that we’re doing on ‘Black Panther’ is hopefully doing the same thing for the next group of actors that are coming up, just like our predecessors opened up doors and made things easier for us.”
Both Jordan and Boseman are on the awards season circuit promoting “Black Panther,” the Ryan Coogler-directed Marvel movie that many believe will become the first superhero film to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.