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September 3, 2015

Michael B. Jordan on Final Season of 'Friday Night Lights,' What's in Store for Vince and the Legacy of Wallace

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Oct 26th 2010 2:30PM
Every now and again, TV is blessed with an actor that possesses an indisputable charisma. Whether he's playing a young boy (Wallace) caught up in the drug trade on 'The Wire' or struggling to survive as a Texas high school quarterback on 'Friday Night Lights,' Michael B. Jordan is absolutely electric onscreen.

Now 23, Jordan has grown into a mature young man, and he has laid the groundwork for future roles with his sincere portrayal of the troubled East Dillon QB, Vince. TV Squad had the chance to chat with Jordan about his stint on 'The Wire,' this final season of 'Friday Night Lights,' and why we should all keep some tissues handy.

'Where the f--- is Wallace?' from 'The Wire' has gone down in history as one of the ultimate TV catchphrases. Do people say it to you all the time?

[Laughs] Yes, they do. Like randomly in the streets people will just yell, "Hey Wallace!" It's already programmed in my mind to respond to it. There's a lot of love out there. Every time I hear it, it brings a smile to my face; and I'm grateful that 'The Wire' was very impactful in peoples' lives. Grown men approach me and cry about it!

No one likes to watch the scene where [Wallace] gets killed.

Oh, man. David Simon literally came up to me the day of, right when I got the script. He was like, "Look, Mike, it's not that we don't like you. In fact, we love you, and that's why we have to kill you." [Laughs]

I think you said in another interview that sometimes shows have to kill the heart.
Yep. It's the person that everybody loves, the person that everyone is rooting for who has to go sometimes.

Now you're part of another intense series, 'Friday Night Lights,' as Vince. So much has happened to you (and your career) in between shows.

I was only 15 when I did 'The Wire.' Now I'm 23. A lot of things have changed. I was on 'All My Children' for four years, and then I moved out to LA from the east coast.

Do you prefer more balls-out roles like Wallace? Or do you enjoy the more strapped-in, dramatic roles like Vince?
Wallace wasn't that much of a challenge for me at that time, because I was young. Really, I was being me. I was imitating what I saw every day in Newark. Sometimes that's what acting is – bringing what you experience into your character to make it real.

Vince, on the other hand, is more thought-out. He's a kid in inner-city Texas, his mom is on drugs, his dad's not around, he has all this responsibility. He's always at a fork in the road. The majority of the time he makes the wrong decisions at that fork. Vince was always worried about himself and his family, but now he has to be concerned with an entire team, an entire town, Coach Taylor. But let me tell you, playing Vince was something I absolutely loved doing.

Are there big things coming up for Vince in this last season of 'FNL'?
There are a lot, yes. He really is changing from boy to man. You'll smile with him, but you'll also cry. You'll probably criticize him for the bad decisions that he makes. His father comes back into his life – that's the only sneak peek I can give you – and that definitely wears on him.

I bet there's a really good scene with Vince's father and Coach Taylor.
[Laughs] You're foretelling? You're a smart guy and I'll leave it at that.

How about the football? Is there a lot of that in season 5?

The football games are going to be pretty intense this season – there are tons of different angles, plays, situations. It's going to be one for the record books.

Had you played football before 'Friday Night Lights?'

I might have thrown a football five times in my life before this show. That's one of the challenges I've had to face with this show – learning how to play. I was up early, going to practices, all that stuff. I wanted to bring as much legitimacy to my character as I could. I love sports in general, but now I'm balls-deep in football.

If Vince ends up like Wallace, that's it. I give up on TV.

[Laughs] I can't say anything to that.

What was the mood on-set for this last season?
This was my first time coming back to a second season of anything. I felt at home. Everybody was all about the work. The mantra was "Whatever it takes to get the job done. Let's do it and let's do it right. We're going to go out on top." That was everyone's attitude. This last season will be remembered as the best season of 'Friday Night Lights.'

And working with this amazing cast must be quite the experience. There isn't one bad member!
The casting is so well-done on a personal level that the actors playing the roles kind of bleed over. Like, the reason Coach Taylor is so lovable is because Kyle [Chandler] is amazing. Kyle as a person is awesome, a real man's man, and that kind of adds another layer of depth to the character.

Should viewers have tissues ready for this season?
This is going to be a heavy season. You should definitely have the Kleenex on standby. We're going to go out with a bang.

'Friday Night Lights' returns for its fifth and final season on DirecTV on October 26, to air in the spring on NBC. You can also catch Michael on 'Parenthood,' which airs on Tuesdays at 10PM on NBC.

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