Black Panther wasn’t the first time Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan eyed the same role. Granted, Marvel had T’Challa and Killmonger fighting for the Wakandan throne.
Sitting down for an interview with The Wrap, the two actors looked back on their time playing the same role on the soap opera All My Children in 2003. ABC cast Boseman as Reggie Montgomery, a teen who initially came across as a racially stereotypical thug. He voiced his thoughts on the character and was subsequently fired, to be replaced by Jordan.
“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.”
Back in May, Boseman appeared to allude to this character when, during his commencement address for Howard University, he referred to an old soap opera part. He said he felt “conflicted” about the role because it “seemed to be wrapped up in assumptions about us as black folks. The writing failed to search for specificity, plus there was barely a glimpse of positivity or talent in the character, barely a glimpse of hope. I would have to make something out of nothing.”
Jordan also called out the stereotypical nature of Reggie in a 2015 interview with GQ. “No dad, no mom, a f—ing stereotypical black role in a soap opera,” he said. “And I saw the stereotype, so moving forward I was like, ‘Nah, those are the roles I don’t want to play.'”
During their discussion with The Wrap, they both acknowledged the interview was the first time they were both been asked to discuss it together.
“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 reflected. “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 him.”
At the very least, it seemed the producers took some of Boseman’s comments to heart. While Boseman was dropped, Jordan acknowledges how different the character of Reggie seemed on the page from what Boseman described.
“I’m younger than Chad, and I was coming into All My Children fresh off The Wire — wide open, still learning,” Jordan said. “I was playing this role not knowing that a lot of the things I was going through were because of what he’d already done for me.”
He noted how this was “a pure example” of “how what people do now can directly affect what other people do in the future.”
“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,” Jordan added, “just like our predecessors opened up doors and made things easier for us.”
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