Michael B. Jordan felt a glimmer of the showbiz limelight for more than a decade, consistently nailing memorable roles on beloved TV shows like HBO’s The Wire and NBC’s Friday Night Lights, then logging critically acclaimed turns in hit indie films such as 2013’s Fruitvale Station. But this year, at long last, the white-hot beam of the Hollywood spotlight is fixed squarely on him, first as the Human Torch in this past August’s Fantastic Four reboot, then next month as Adonis Creed, son of deceased Rocky foe-turned-friend Apollo, in Creed.
“Right now is the moment I’ve worked my entire career for,” Jordan says. “It feels good. It’s like, I’m here now.”
That certainly applies physically as well as metaphorically: Though Jordan kept his naturally slim frame for Fantastic Four—“My body isn’t really shown that much,” he explains, “my character is a teenager”—he became a full-blown heavyweight boxer for Creed. “I put the work in and trained and didn’t ask for any handouts,” he says of the process of bulking up, before proudly adding: “I look like a fighter.”
It’s the perfect ending to a knockout year.