Michael B. Jordan Reveals Denzel Washington’s Unexpected Influence on Killmonger in ‘Black Panther’

Hollywood turned out in droves last night for an AFI gala honoring Denzel Washington with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Everyone from Jamie Foxx to Spike Lee wanted a chance to speak about the massive impact Washington has made during his four decades in film. From his career-defining role as Malcom X to his more recent triumph directing “Fences,” his filmography leaves no shortage of material for gushing anecdotes.

When Michael B. Jordan took the mic, he dropped a fascinating piece of film trivia: Killmonger’s scars in “Black Panther” were inspired by Washington.

Jordan’s brutal Marvel villain is instantly recognizable for the geometric array of scars that cover his torso, each signifying a past kill. But the star says the idea came from Washington’s Oscar-winning role in “Glory.” The 1989 film, which follows the bravery and adversity of an all-black infantry unit during the Civil War, is widely recognized as one of the highlights of Washington’s career. His performance as Private Silas Trip, a former slave with scars from a lifetime of unjust punishment, is still influencing actors such as Jordan.

“I heard stories that when you were huddled around the campfire in that film, [“Glory”], you weren’t supposed to be shirtless, but you still had the scars put on your back, so you could feel it, so you could know that’s what your character’s been through,” Jordan recalled. ” I tell you right now tonight brother, that’s the only reason why Killmonger, when I played that role, I had those scars, even when I wasn’t shirtless, because of you, so I want to say thank you for that.”

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