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People magazine may have just anointed Michael B. Jordan as the” sexiest man alive”, but he’s always been irresistible since his days on The Wire Let’s celebrate the official crowning with a look back at my chat with him and Octavia Spencer for Ryan Coogler’s devastatingly beautiful and truthful FRUITVALE STATION.
I never set out to make people cry during interviews, but there was something about the subject matter of FRUITVALE STATION that brings tears to the eyes of all but the most hard-hearted. The shooting of Oscar Grant in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 was the stuff of controversy from the moment it happened. A minor scuffle, an overreaction by the authorities, and a young man was dead. Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar(tm) for her work in THE HELP, plays Oscar’s mother, Wanda, in the film, and when I asked her about recreating the moment when Wanda is finally allowed to see Oscar’s body, the actress couldn’t go on. Jordan, who plays Oscar, stepped in to finish the answer.
FRUITVALE STATION was filmed on many of the location where the events of the movie actually happened, including the hospital where he died, and the eponymous BART station where he was shot. When I talked to Spencer and Jordan, one of the things I was most curious about was how being in those places informed their performances, prompting an unexpected discovery by the two actors, as they each learned that the other had, in the course of filming, had been talking to Oscar’s spirit. It was just one of the many heartfelt and moving moments in an emotional conversation.