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Jonathan Majors on Oscar Favorites, Bad Reviews, and the Road Trip That Made Him Realize He Was a Star

Majors crashed this week's episode of Screen Talk for a candid discussion of art, fame, and the complications of awards season.

Jonathan Majors screen talk

Jonathan Majors was driving from New York to Park City a few weeks ago when he stopped at a gas station, got recognized, and realized he was a star. “The entertainment industry is a very personal industry,” Majors said in a recent interview for IndieWire’s Screen Talk podcast, “like it or not.”

Majors marks the first time an actor has joined Screen Talk hosts Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson for their weekly podcast, but his growing profile in the industry made him a natural fit for a show that often interrogates the relationship between art and commerce in Hollywood. (It also didn’t hurt that, by his own admission, Majors has been a Screen Talk listener since his days at Yale Drama School.)

While he was a major discovery out of Sundance hit “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” back in 2019, Majors’ big crossover moment is happening this month. With his role as the scheming antagonist Kang in “Ant-Man and Wasp: Quantumania,” he’s officially the new villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; simultaneously, he appears opposite Michael B. Jordan as the new foil to the boxing protagonist in “Creed III,” out this week.

Despite these huge blockbuster swings, however, Majors is also a poet, an aspiring producer, and an actor not averse to riskier low-budget maneuvers. One of those, his turn as a troubled bodybuilder in 2023 Sundance premiere “Magazine Dreams,” recently landed distribution with Searchlight and already has positioned him as a contender in next year’s Oscar race.

Needless to say, Majors has a lot going on, but he has more to discuss than new releases. In his extensive Screen Talk conversation, Majors explained how he discovered acting after getting arrested for shoplifting and eventually found his way to drama school. He also discussed his evolving perspective on celebrity and how he contends with reviews of his work.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Screen Talk at this time of the year if there weren’t some Oscar talk. As a recent Academy member, Majors had much to say about this year’s nominees, and didn’t mince words when it came to the controversy surrounding the snubs for Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler. “Spoiler alert: I am a young Black African American actor. I am quite sensitive to the political climate especially around the institutions I’m a part of,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.”

However, he did single out one bright spot among this year’s nominees, singling a fellow character from the MCU: “I love seeing Angela Bassett there,” he said. “Her name should be etched on the trailhead.”

On the subject of Marvel movies, Majors also confronted the negative reviews for “Ant-Man” and how he deals with criticism of his work (“If you’re a critic on the level, I probably know you”). He explained his rationale for taking on a blockbuster role and why he believes, in his words, that he works “in the service industry.”

Also in this week’s episode, Kohn and Thompson discuss the recent wins at the PGA and SAG awards as Oscar voting enters its final days. Stay tuned for final Oscar predictions next week.

Watch the full episode above or listen to it below.

Screen Talk is produced by Azwan Badruzaman and available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify, and hosted by Megaphone. Browse previous installments here, subscribe here, and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the hosts address specific issues in upcoming editions of Screen Talk. 

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