Michael B. Jordan and Bryan Stevenson Talk “Just Mercy” Ahead of its Montgomery Premiere

Bryan Stevenson is no stranger to the spotlight when it comes to his work in criminal justice reform, but his story is now being told on the big screen, starring some big names.

Actor Michael B. Jordan plays Stevenson in “Just Mercy”, the book-turned movie that will hit theaters nationwide in January. At the center of it all–the case of Walter McMillian. Jaime Foxx, takes on the role of the innocent black man who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a young white woman in Monroeville, Alabama.

Jordan visited Montgomery ahead of a limited pre-screening of the movie Friday.  In a sit-down interview with the pair, Stevenson admitted he was a little apprehensive about his bestselling memoir coming to life in a movie.

“Because it doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to,” Stevenson explained. “But that’s what I love about Michael, he’s obviously just so gifted and so talented and creative and committed to these issues”.

The film follows a young Stevenson as a recent Harvard law school graduate who goes on to found the Equal Justice Initiative.

When asked what he knew of Stevenson or the EJI before taking on the role, Jordan admitted that he didn’t know much about the role, but goes on to say, “when I did read his book and hear him speak and get to know him I was like ‘wow ok, why is that not a household name?'”

In its 30 years, the EJI has won major legal reforms, ultimately reducing the sentences or helping release over 140 people on death row. Still Stevenson says the work is far from over.

“In many ways the McMillian case represents all of the challenges that our current crisis now creates,” Stevenson said. “There are thousands of innocent people in our jails and prisons today.”

It’s a sobering reality, though both Jordan and Stevenson said they want people to leave the theater feeling hopeful.

“I want them to feel like this issue isn’t bigger than them that they feel like they can’t make an impact,” Jordan said. “Sometimes the issue is so huge that it’s paralyzing to people, so they don’t do anything and I don’t think that’s the right perspective to have.”

“Just Mercy” will open in select theaters on Christmas Day, and will be released nationwide on January 10th.



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