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Michael B. Jordan Cast in ‘Thomas Crown’ Remake, Could Start Trend for  Black Actors in Typically White Roles

While many young actors struggle to retain consistency after one or two quality performances, Michael B. Jordan has formed a sturdy career on an armature of prestige projects.

After the release of Creed, Michael B. Jordan is no longer living on the potential; he’s fulfilling his promise.  Creed was both a critical and commercial success, grossing $172 million worldwide and named one of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten films of 2015.  While it was  great to see Rocky again, Jordan’s performance as Adonis Creed proved to not only be memorable but showed he has the screen presence to carry a major film.  For that role, Jordan won the Best Actor Award from the National Society of Film Critics.

There has been a waiting game as far as what project Jordan would do next, and now The Hollywood Reporter reports that Jordan has signed on to star in a second remake of the classic heist film The Thomas Crown Affair.

This is an inspired casting decision, considering the first two Thomas Crown films featured a white man as lead.  Screen legend Steve McQueen originated the role in 1968.  The remake released in 1999 starred Pierce Brosnan.  In both films, Thomas Crown is a thrill-seeking millionaire who orchestrates the perfect bank robbery while playing a game of cat and mouse with the insurance investigator who becomes his love interest.  It’s not usual to see Black actors cast as wealthy, witty, debonair gentlemen thief types, but it is a very different role for Jordan.

Jordan’s casting in The Thomas Crown Affair comes during a time where the overwhelming question of diversity in Hollywood has put necessary pressure on every hiring decision.  If a Black actor has the talent to portray a great role, does a Black actor have an equal opportunity to win the role, or does it go to white actors exclusively?  Traditionally, this has not been the case because of a myriad of excuses, including the supposed inability of Black actors to draw an audience. The success of Black-driven films at the box office over the last few years has made this excuse obsolete, and Jordan’s casting signals a current trend many hope will become permanent.

Jordan has already done it once, playing the traditionally white character Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in last year’s Fantastic Four.  The movie didn’t perform well due to tension between the studio and director Josh Trank.  Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) was cast as the lead in the new 24 reboot, 24: Legacy, a new role written for an actor of color after Kiefer Sutherland’s turn as Jack Bauer in the original 24 television series.  Idris Elba has been circling the lead role for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower film adaptation, where the protagonist is considered a white man.  There’s potential for more casting announcements like this to made, making this a welcome trend many hope will overextend its stay and become the standard, allowing more Black actors to fulfill their promise.

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