Bryan Stevenson, Michael B. Jordan talk upcoming movie ‘Just Mercy’
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Friday, WSFA 12 News got the opportunity to speak with the star of the new movie “Just Mercy” based on the book of the same title by Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson.
Well-known actor Michael B. Jordan portrays Stevenson in the movie, which chronicles a famous legal case early in Stevenson’s career in which an Alabama death row prisoner was vindicated.
Jordan was in Montgomery Friday to talk about his experience during filming. He said more than anything, he just wanted to give an accurate portrayal of the events that really happened surrounding Stevenson’s story.
“I think it was more pressure on this movie than anything else just to get it right,” said Jordan.
In the sitdown with WSFA 12 News, Jordan noted how he admires the work that Stevenson has done in the past and is continuing to do, driving him that much more in the filming process.
“I think the work that he’s doing here is amazing. It’s truly something special and I want to make sure I did it right and I made him proud, so I put everything I had into the movie and made sure we were accurate and thorough and lived up to his standards,” said Jordan.
For Stevenson, this is something he never thought would happen. He called this experience “humbling.”
“I’ve never imagined that something like this would be a part of that journey, but I’m excited about people learning more, seeing more, the performances will get you closer to the humanity and the dignity of the people that I fight for, the people that I represent,” said Stevenson.
Even with all the positive energy surrounding the film, both Stevenson and Jordan know there’s still work to be done. More fighting for innocent people who are incarcerated still to be done.
“I do believe that we need to make some changes. I think we can do better than what we’re doing. There are thousands of innocent people in our jails and prisons and I think we should care more about them. We’ve got the highest rate of incarceration in the world, I think we should care more about that and we’re still struggling in a lot of spaces, and so it was a real honor that somebody with Michael’s talent and ability, but even more than that, somebody with his convictions," said Stevenson.
“I hope they take away hope. I think a lot of his work, his [Stevenson’s] philosophies is hopelessness is the enemy of justice, you know, and I want people to walk away feeling like this issue isn’t bigger than them," said Jordan. "Sometimes it seems like it’s so big that it paralyzes people into not doing anything. Not speaking up, not trying to affect the change at all and that shouldn’t be the perspective.”
Jordan went on to say that each person can have his or her own individual impact. For Stevenson, he feels stories like the one being told in “Just Mercy” allows the medium for similar stories to be told, for other injustices to be brought to light, inspiring others to go out and be a voice in their communities.
“We still have politicians and many leaders that are talking about throw people away, locking them up forever. I just think that kind of environment gives rise to these kinds of stories. We certainly are still dealing with bias, and bigotry and discrimination, and so we’ve got a lot of work to do and I hope this film inspires us to recognize that we still have challenges to be met,” said Stevenson.
The Equal Justice Initiative is also responsible for the new Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery and the Legacy Museum.
Jamie Foxx also stars in “Just Mercy” which opens in select theaters on Christmas Day and will be released nationwide on Jan. 10.
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