It was last year when I was able to watch the highly touted Last Black Man in San Francisco and I loved every single bit of it. Not only because of the title or the visually stunning camera shots, but because of the powerful performance of Jonathan Majors. I didn’t know much about the 31-year-old actor, all I knew was that his performance in the final act of the film showed the promise of a rising star.
Jonathan Majors’ new series hit, Lovecraft Country on HBO, and the Spike Lee helmed, Da Five Bloods, has made way to take part in many big-budget films. Luckily for Taji Mag, Majors took time out to talk about the new series, his GQ feature, and his desire to portray Superman.
Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How do you keep your faculties together given all you have gone through in Lovecraft Country?
Jonathan Majors (JM): Love, man! I think that’s the key. He [Atticus aka Tic] is the most selfless character I’ve played. The alternative is if I fail the family fails. If I don’t get this right, Leti goes down, if I don’t get this right Uncle George goes down. We know how this plays out in the series. He loves his family so much he is willing to take the hit and keep on going because failure is not an option.
DDF: In episode 6, Meet Me in Daegu, we see Atticus’s life during the Korean War and relationship with Ji-ah. Who do you think is more of the monster Ji-ah or Atticus?
JM: In one of the scenes, Ji-ah tries to persuade Atticus that he is the monster. I would say from Atticus’s point of view, he would be the monster. He was closest to freedom when he was with Ji-ah and then it was snatched away. Exoneration was close but snatched away. That event made him double down on the idea that he was a monster. For some reason or another, he was not worthy of this love between him and Ji-ah because it all went bad.
DDF: What was your reaction after you read episode 6 “Meet Me in Dego”?
JM: To me, that episode is very different from the other episodes. I love the episode because it gave me insight into who Tic was. From that episode, there is a transition from “Tic” to Atticus. When episode 6 ends, it is the birth of Atticus. He knows too much now. He’s seen physical violence, he’s done physical violence and war crimes. Now he’s experiencing something so mystical, spiritual, monstrous and it’s stuck in his brain. So when I read the script, I was like “Cool, this episode unlocks a great deal of information.” It was so great, I happened to have read episode 6 before we started shooting episodes 2 and beyond. So I could walk around with that feeling of dread and fear. This is necessary because, as you see in the series, Atticus calls back to Korea multiple times. I loved the script! It’s sort of a ballet piece I would say.
DDF: I read some of the GQ article you were featured in. It mentioned your father was in Desert Storm; your paternal grandfather served in World War II, your maternal grandfather in Korea and Vietnam. What kind of memorable advice did they give you and have you used it for roles like Atticus in Lovecraft Country?
JM: It’s interesting how the men in my life work. Advice never really comes. As cliche as it sounds, we lead by example. Take care of your business, look after your brother, make up your bed, say what you need to say and that’s it. Get your work done and do your best. These are simple things that are inherent in survival. More so when it comes from men whose lives been in jeopardy since their genesis. Then there are ancestors, that is who hooked me on set. They were with me and looked after me. Sometimes they would tell me how to walk. The baron of them is what I use and remember to portray Atticus.
DDF: In episode 7 we see Atticus go into a time portal. If he were to be transported to the present day, how would he react to what’s going with Breonna Taylor and racial injustice?
JM: I think Atticus would hit the front line. Atticus knows things, he knows magic. There’d be a whole genre of action taken.
I think emotionally he would be saddened. Especially because there’s such a jump of over 70 years and he’s worked so hard for protection. So, to see his tribe adjacent with sister [Breonna] Taylor is not protected. It could be an existential crisis with him.
DDF: During your Zoom interview with Jimmy Fallon, I saw you had a guitar in the background. Do you play guitar or any instruments?
JM: I play a little bit of guitar and am learning how to improve my playing skills. I am also learning to play saxophone and to play the harmonica. So yeah, I get down.
DDF: What is your favorite thing to listen to?
JM: It’s a mixture of things. It depends on the day. If I had put on some music now I’d say, Otis Redding, Ella Fitzgerald, Coltrane, and Dizzy Gillepsie.
DDF: Is there an artist you would like to portray in a biopic?
JM: Oh yeah, I’d play Coltrane. I’d like to try that out.
DDF: Would you like to write and direct that project yourself?
JM: I’d be involved. I think if I had the time and spirit hit me, I could get it done. I think he is such a fascinating man.
DDF: If you could portray a superhero or villain in a movie, who would they be?
JM: To be honest, I have an infatuation with Superman. I love Superman. I think they’ve gotten him wrong in film this whole time. Somehow we have to get Metropolis caught up in Gotham because I would like to play the Riddler. If we could somehow get that going where the Riddler takes his interest off Batman and he focuses on Superman, that would be crazy!
DDF: You may have to pitch it to DC films!
JM: You can produce it, we can roll!
The future is looking bright for Jonathan Majors as he prepares to star in the upcoming star-studded film The Harder They Fall with Idris Alba. There are also talks of him portraying a villain in the MCU, rumored to be the next big villain after Thanos. Until then make sure to tune into HBO and HBO MAX to catch the latest episodes of Lovecraft Country.