Jonathan Majors on his meteoric rise through Hollywood
AISHA HARRIS, HOST:
A warning - this episode contains explicit language.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
HARRIS: Hey, everyone. I'm Aisha Harris. And on this episode of NPR's POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR, we're bringing you an interview with an actor I'm sure many of you have had many thoughts about lately - the one and only Jonathan Majors. Now, he's having a moment right now. He recently starred in "Creed III" and "Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania." And our friend of the show and host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, Ayesha Rascoe, recently sat down with Majors for a fun and wide-ranging conversation. Hey, Ayesha.
AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hey.
HARRIS: It's so great to have you here. I loved this interview because Jonathan Majors has kind of become this it guy, the internet's boyfriend.
HARRIS: But you were able to go deep with him on a variety of topics in ways that I haven't really seen him do in other interviews. So I'm curious - really quick, if you could tell us sort of what was your main goal going into that discussion?
RASCOE: You know, I really wanted to be able to have a real conversation and to really get at this idea of, like, being in this space 'cause you very rarely meet someone who is, like, really, like, blowing up, right? Like, they're there, but they're also, like, just getting there. And so I wanted to get a sense of, like, what does that actually feel like? And then I also knew that he's, like, a very big, you know, actor with a capital A, like very about the craft.
RASCOE: I just wanted to get behind some of that because, you know, he seems very deep, and he was very deep.
RASCOE: But I wanted to get behind the deepness and, like, what's there. So that's what I wanted to do.
HARRIS: Well, I really think you did it. I mean, he seemed so relaxed and so open and vulnerable. And I did learn so many things about him and just how he moves and how he thinks about things. And it's great that you had a chance to talk with him. This is so fun.
RASCOE: Oh, thank you. It was a great time. He's - you know, he was really nice, really sweet. I don't have anything negative to say about him, not that I would.
RASCOE: But for everybody who wants to know, like, was - and they want to know how he smelled. He smelled good. They want to know was he - you know, all that. That's what people want to know. He was very nice, and he smelled good. So for everybody - like, he smelled like a man. That's what everybody should know.
RASCOE: Because these are the questions I get, Aisha.
HARRIS: I believe it. I believe it. I am so pleased to know that he smells like a man. And, I mean, even just as a brief preview, you do talk to him about masculinity...
HARRIS: ...And how that's perceived and how he's perceived it. And you know what? He has a good grasp on it, and he smells like a man. So that is what we know.
HARRIS: Well, with that, we will turn to Ayesha's conversation with Jonathan. Enjoy.
RASCOE: Jonathan Majors, thank you so much for joining us, and thank you for being on NPR.
JONATHAN MAJORS: My pleasure.
RASCOE: I want to start off with kind of a fun question, right?
RASCOE: So you're in a bunch of movies right now. We're going to get into all of them. But one of them is "Creed III."
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: It's all about the underdog, right?
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: And so I want to know a time when you were the underdog in a fight and basically a time you were worried that your mouth had written a check that your behind could not cash.
MAJORS: Oh, this is interesting 'cause there's two roads to this.
MAJORS: I always feel like the underdog. But to the anecdote, I probably - probably, like, my eighth-grade year...
MAJORS: So I'm at the gym. I was a basketball player. And I'm in there with a bunch of the older guys. And I get to, you know, playing hard and talking trash. And all of a sudden, you know, guy says something to me, and I take the ball - guy being, you know, the junior. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: OK, so someone who's older.
MAJORS: And a lot bigger than me.
MAJORS: And I get heated, and I go, yeah, woop-de-woop-de-woop (ph) - and throw the ball.
RASCOE: At him.
MAJORS: I just threw the ball, sis. But this ball hits this boy right in the back of the head. And I'm thinking...
RASCOE: Oh, no.
MAJORS: ...Oh, J, it's on. You've done it now. You've done it now. And by the time I got done talking and scrapping and all types of stuff...
RASCOE: Oh, my goodness. So he went at you once you did that.
MAJORS: Of course. He already wanted me.
RASCOE: OK. OK.
MAJORS: He already was like, who's this brother? You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah.
RASCOE: Yeah. And you hit him in the head, and he had to...
MAJORS: He had to try to regulate, you know? And...
RASCOE: OK. And did he regulate?
MAJORS: He tried it.
MAJORS: He tried it.
RASCOE: Did you win or lose?
MAJORS: I was definitely the underdog.
RASCOE: You were the underdog in that one.
MAJORS: I definitely lost the fight. But I won the...
RASCOE: You won in your heart.
MAJORS: Well, everyone saw it. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: OK, everyone saw it.
MAJORS: The guy was a lot bigger than me. And I - you know, I didn't go down easy.
RASCOE: And you didn't go down easy. OK.
RASCOE: Are you a good trash talker?
MAJORS: I didn't talk much, no. I was very much like - I was like the exclamation mark. You know, when everybody was talking trash, talking trash, talking trash, I do what I did, and I'd be like, yeah.
RASCOE: (Laughter) You - so you would be the person egging it on.
MAJORS: I like it when people talk trash. It...
RASCOE: OK. I like that, too.
MAJORS: It don't bother me. But I never talked it back. I would just respond.
RASCOE: But there's...
MAJORS: It didn't take me much to pop off when I was a kid, no.
RASCOE: Yeah. But now you're more calm.
MAJORS: Yeah. I mean, the whole thing is I'm an introvert. You know, on the outside, I don't give it away, you know, how I'm feeling, but I'm feeling a great deal, you know? And so I tend to - it's not calmer. It's just I'm just grown. You know what I mean? You know, there's a lot going on on the inside all the time. It's part of my work. You know, I get to kind of let people in on that, you know?
RASCOE: Well, let's go through, like, this list of movies - "Creed III"...
MAJORS: "Creed III."
RASCOE: ...Where - you know, opposite, you know, Michael B. Jordan. You're also in "Magazine Dreams," which is a very serious drama...
RASCOE: ...Getting a lot of buzz, where you play an amateur bodybuilder. Then you're in "Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania," where you are the big bad...
RASCOE: ...Kang the Conqueror - so all over the spectrum. Like...
RASCOE: How do you feel when I'm saying that list?
MAJORS: Well, you know, I feel like I never give the right response, you know, but I got to keep it real. Like, I feel like, yeah, you know, I knew those things were coming, you know, two years ago. You know, this is for the folks now. This is for the people. You know, my time was, you know, when I first got those scripts and I first read them or, you know, you execute that scene, you know, or, I mean, execute it - you let that scene live. You know, that was that was the hit for me. You know, I can say that.
And then I can say the other side where it's like, yeah, I'm a 33-year-old kid, you know, from Texas who always wanted to be an actor. And now it's all out there like that, you know, on - you know, for lack of a better term, on the highest level. You know, "Ant-Man" is massive. You know, "Creed III" is massive. "Magazine Dreams" is - has a special part in my heart because it's the first film I produced, so that feels good, too. But I keep it easy.
RASCOE: Do you feel like this has always been the vision that you had for yourself? Like, are you one of those people like, I saw - like, you saying this - you had put in...
RASCOE: ...The work. But did you see, like, oh, I'm going to be big...
RASCOE: ...And everyone else just needed to catch up to the vision that you already had for yourself?
MAJORS: It's deep, you know, because I never thought - I just wanted to be an actor, you know? I had a moment when I was younger, you know, an adult, though - probably like 19, you know - when I saw Broadway for the first time. And I was 21, I guess. And I was in New York, and I saw something on Broadway. I saw "Mary Stuart." It was a great, great, great production. And I was - I got so sad when I walked out because I had spent all my money, and I thought I had missed out on so much. You know what I mean? You know?
RASCOE: Like what? Like, what did you feel like you missed out on?
MAJORS: Well, that experience that I had, the catharsis I had, you know, being in the space, looking at those wonderful actresses, you know, tell that wonderful story - I was blown away by it. And I thought, damn, you know, that could have happened five years ago. You know, there's folks who I came up with who will never see that, you know? And so when I was in drama school and stuff, I thought, yeah, I'm going to do this for real. You know, it's the one thing that - acting's the only thing that's never abandoned me. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: That's deep.
MAJORS: It's kept me safe, you know?
MAJORS: And I believe in it.
RASCOE: You believe in it more than you believe in, like, people.
MAJORS: It helps me understand people more. I listen differently as an artist. You know, it makes you a bit of a humanitarian. You know, you love people. I love people, you know? And people get on your nerves. You know what I mean?
MAJORS: People hurt you. You know, but...
MAJORS: The art never hurts. It can break you, but it's there to heal you. You know what I mean? It's a very unsafe place, you know, when you go into your art form, when you get in your bag, as it were. You know, it's dangerous. You learn to tolerate danger through the art, and it works both ways. You know, I think if I had a different background, if I had a more safe background, maybe I wouldn't have my - have the point of view I have about art, that it has to be dangerous. You know, I'd seen danger growing up my entire life. You know, I'm accustomed to it.
RASCOE: You said you wanted to be an actor for a very long time.
RASCOE: What was, like, the moment when acting really came into your life?
MAJORS: Oh, man, I got in trouble. I stayed in trouble. And I was coming out of it, I guess, and I just got put in this theater class. You know what I mean? It was the thing when I was about 13, 14 years old. And, yeah, it was a combination of all this emotionality I had, my introvert nature and the fact that, you know, language had been around me my whole life. My mom's a pastor. We're Southern, my family is. And anyone from the South knows, you know, oration is a big part of our culture...
MAJORS: ...You know, telling stories that way. I listened to my granddaddy tell stories on his couch and, you know, sit at his knee and hear that. And, you know, singing, you know, was a big thing in the church. And also living in, you know, the neighborhoods I lived in, you know, apartment complexes, you know, popping off, everything's this and that, this and that, this and that. Hearing people's, you know, alacrity with language was something I was like, man, that's wild, you know?
And then realizing, oh, my God - so I just got that from being - just living. Like, this is my culture. This is how we operate. You know what I mean? But then the expression of self as an introvert, the expression - you know what I mean? - was something I really became addicted to - addicted to the shindig. And one thing led to another, you know, from a little detention program to, you know, doing it in school and it kind of keeping me out of trouble. And then that then led to, you know, me Googling one night, what is the best drama school for grown-ups? And, you know, the usual suspects came up. Yale was one of them. And I applied my trade to get into that school, and that's been the hustle. You know, that's been the life, not even the hustle.
RASCOE: How do you decide, like, this script speaks to me?
RASCOE: This is what I want to do.
RASCOE: Do you look at it and go like, I got some bills I need to pay, so let me do this one?
RASCOE: And then - you don't look at it like that. You never did, like, never.
MAJORS: No. It's deep.
MAJORS: It's deep. Yeah. Like...
RASCOE: Even with your kid, you weren't like...
MAJORS: I've been broke. Watch this. I've been broke. If you just keep living like you broke - you know what I mean? Like, it's cool. Being an actor, first and foremost, was my objective before anything else in this world. I'm a man of faith. I believe it. You know what I mean? I don't know why I'm so impassioned right now, but I believe that. So if I do that, I'm going to be all right. You know what I mean? So it's like...
RASCOE: If you do what your purpose is...
MAJORS: If I - I'm - that's it.
RASCOE: ...It will make way for you.
MAJORS: That's it. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: It will make way for you.
MAJORS: This is what I feel whoever, whatever, put me here to do. This is what I'm going to do until the - until it changes. I wasn't put here to, you know, live in a nice apartment - you know what I mean? - or drive a fancy car, you know? That's not what I was here for. You're put here to act. Do that. You know? I mean, that's how - I'll start preaching. Seek first.
RASCOE: Well, I know.
MAJORS: You know what I mean? Like...
RASCOE: Seek ye first.
MAJORS: It's deep. You know what I mean? And - but that's for everything, you know? And so, I mean, yeah, I mean, there are moments now where I go, oh, it'd be nice to - you know, it'd be nice to, you know, do this, but I'm not taking a job for that. I'm not taking a job for that, you know? You talk about pressure. That's how I pick a role...
RASCOE: That's how you pick.
MAJORS: ...Based on pressure. I look at it and I go, oh, that's going to be difficult. That's - I'm going to hit the red zone in that, you know? "Magazine Dreams"...
MAJORS: You know, can I be a bodybuilder? You look at those images - I remember looking at that - you know, reading the script and then Googling it, I went, this is going to be impossible. This is going to be - this is impossible. You know what I mean? And I was like, hell yeah, let's roll. You know what I mean? Same with "Creed" - you know, you watch the "Rocky" film. You go, man, that's so inspiring.
MAJORS: But then it can be intimidating if you think, oh, you're supposed to do that now. You go, oh, wow. The complexity of a Damian Anderson - right? - things that haven't been seen before - right? - the pressure of, you know, folks who have been incarcerated watching that film.
RASCOE: And Damian Anderson is who you play...
MAJORS: In "Creed III." Yeah. Yeah.
RASCOE: ...In "Creed III" opposite...
MAJORS: Michael B. Jordan. Yeah.
RASCOE: ...Michael B. Jordan. And he is someone who has been incarcerated, comes out...
MAJORS: Yeah, that's right. Sorry.
RASCOE: ...And wants a shot, right?
RASCOE: Tell me more about what drew you to Damian.
MAJORS: Damian Anderson is based off a couple of folk, but for me the inspiration was really my stepfather - right? - named Joe Young. That man - he was incarcerated, you know, maybe 15 years before he got to me, you know, and became my stepfather. And I saw it. I understand what that ankle monitor life is like. I understand what the PO coming to the crib is like. I understood that. I understood. I watched him be misunderstood and judged, you know, and his aspirations, his deep, deep aspirations for something greater, that were put on pause 'cause he was incarcerated.
RASCOE: Did you feel like you misjudged him?
MAJORS: No, I didn't. I always loved him, you know, but it's even more hurtful when you watch someone else do it. You say, oh, you don't know him. With Damian Anderson, you get the opportunity to show that, right? I get an opportunity to, you know, write a love letter to my - you know, to my stepdad, you know, at least a little bit of it, you know? Whole thing's not about him. He has other things involved, but he's going to be seen in that. He's going to be felt in that. You know what I mean? Yeah.
RASCOE: Like, I mean, in these - some of these new roles that you did...
RASCOE: ...Obviously with Kang and somewhat with Damian, I mean...
RASCOE: ...They're somewhat the villain - right?
MAJORS: Oh, yeah.
RASCOE: ...Or the antihero.
MAJORS: Oh, yeah.
RASCOE: What is attracting you to that sort of character at this point?
MAJORS: Oh, the pressure. I don't feel outward pressure to - I feel pressure from the individuals that I'm trying to play - you know, I'm trying to bring it to. You know what I mean? Like, villain - OK, how do you play a villain? You know, like, that's hard. I think it's the exploration of the shadow, right?
RASCOE: OK, so explain that 'cause you're getting kind of deep.
MAJORS: There's the light part - there's the hero part of you that's...
MAJORS: ...You know, oh, yeah, great, you know, wonderful, you know, and that's great, and that's wonderful. But we all have another side of ourselves...
MAJORS: ...And that's the shadow part. You know, that's the part we kind of hide away. It's the part that has our deepest ambitions, our deepest drives, our deepest wants, you know? Lust is there. Greed is there. Hate is there, you know? Those things are real, you know? There is no hierarchy to feeling or existence. You exist, or you don't, you know? And so to play characters - right? - that are already given such pejorative labels - which are true; these things do not yield positive outcomes, right? - but then to also show the light to that is something I'm interested in, you know? Why? Because it gives - it adds complexity to our human experience, and if there's not complexity to our human experience, it's quite boring. I don't want to be bored.
RASCOE: So, I mean, I wanted to - you know, you have the villain part of this, but then another common denominator, which you've mentioned, is the physicality, right?
MAJORS: Oh, yeah.
RASCOE: So, you know, in "Creed," you play a boxer. In "Magazine Dreams," you play an amateur bodybuilder. I know you talk about the pressure.
MAJORS: Yeah. Yeah.
RASCOE: But there is a very specific...
RASCOE: ...Idea of saying, OK, I'm going to lean into looking like a bodybuilder, right?
RASCOE: Like, this is, like, a very specific decision.
MAJORS: If the art form requires it, you know, the given circumstances, you know, the things in the play that the actor is responsible for doing, you know, have to be embraced, you know? The physical transformation - listen. I just don't want to get bored with it, you know? I just don't want to get bored, you know? Where's the difficulty? And to transform the body like that - it takes a great - it's a - it is a physical, spiritual and emotional transformation fully, you know? And it's a high mountain to climb, you know, because there's a standard of perfection. A bodybuilder looks like that. That is the bare minimum. Otherwise, you're just playing games. You know what I mean? A boxer moves like that, fights like that, looks like that.
There's gradations to it, of course. This is cinema, so I'm going for the most cinematic. That takes work. You know what I mean? And there are, you know, 2 o'clock workout sessions where you just crying on the floor 'cause your abs just feel like they just stopped working, you know, or you're punching. And, you know, I remember when we were doing "Creed," I just couldn't feel - there were days I just couldn't feel my arms. Just no one - that's the first time I said that. No one knows that. Mike doesn't even know that.
RASCOE: Oh, my gosh.
MAJORS: There were days where, like, I actually can't feel anything. I'm just throwing, you know? I'm just fighting my ass off.
RASCOE: But then how does that feel internally? What makes you...
MAJORS: Oh, 'cause now it's over. Now it's over, and you're like, yeah. And...
RASCOE: So then you feel good about it. But, like, in the moment, why aren't you like, I got to stop; I can't feel my arms, guys?
MAJORS: They won't quit.
RASCOE: OK. He won't - he wouldn't quit.
MAJORS: I'm thinking about Joe, thinking about my stepdad - can't quit. If that was real, if you had the opportunity - right? - would you quit? You're there. Would you quit? No, you don't quit. Something is being transcended. And the beautiful thing about cinema is somebody is capturing it.
MAJORS: So it's not for naught. It's not for nothing. You know what I mean? Cinema is the most beautiful thing because you - as soon as you give it away, it's got. You don't have to do it again. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: I got it.
MAJORS: But you better do it. You know what I mean? And that's - you better do it.
RASCOE: Yeah. So people want to know your fitness thing. I know you've been over it a million times before.
RASCOE: But people - I think they're taking notes. I think some people are like, I want to try this.
RASCOE: And if they want to try it, what do they need to do?
MAJORS: First thing I would say is, I mean, you ain't going to want to hear it.
MAJORS: They ain't going to want to hear it.
RASCOE: What - I mean, what does it involve?
MAJORS: Everything you know that's bad for you, just stop it.
RASCOE: Stop. So you can't continue...
MAJORS: Just stop the drinking. Stop your smoking.
RASCOE: No drinking. No smoking.
MAJORS: Pull out your candy bars.
RASCOE: No candy bars.
MAJORS: No candy bar. Once you do that, you're halfway there.
RASCOE: What about chicken wings?
MAJORS: What about them?
RASCOE: Can you eat those? Can you eat chicken wings?
MAJORS: Yeah, you can eat whatever you want. It just depends on how you prepare it.
MAJORS: You know what I mean?
RASCOE: You can't fry it.
MAJORS: Well, you can maybe once a week. It's called cheat day.
RASCOE: OK, so, yeah, on cheat day.
MAJORS: And go for it. But...
MAJORS: Sleep - I'm going to say all the stuff that's far to the left. Sleep hygiene - you need to sleep a lot. That's probably a big part of it. I know it's hard for us as a culture in general, but you need to sleep. The body doesn't grow. It doesn't heal. It doesn't renew itself. All that work you put in, you throw it out the window if you don't rest. You're actually just working. You know what I mean? You should think of it as training. You know, you're not working out. You're training. You're training the body for something that's more than the day to day, you know?
And it also depends on your body type, so I can't give - I mean, I'm not a trainer. I just have a lot of education because I've received a lot, you know? Yeah. I could say lift heavy, but that depends on what you're going for, you know? But things we all have in common is diet and sleep. We all got to eat. We all got to sleep. If you clean that up and you focus on that, you know, you're all right.
RASCOE: But will they come out looking like you? I don't think they're going to...
MAJORS: Absolutely not.
RASCOE: ...Come out looking like you just by eating and sleeping right.
MAJORS: No, it's not...
RASCOE: It's more to it.
MAJORS: But that's the template.
RASCOE: It's more to it.
MAJORS: That's the template.
RASCOE: OK. I mean, do you worry, though, that you got to live and die by that six-pack now, like, that if you don't have that six-pack, like, people are going to rise up?
MAJORS: I've had a six-pack since I was, you know, 5.
RASCOE: OK, so now you bragging (laughter).
MAJORS: No, but everyone knows that guy - you know what I mean...
MAJORS: ...Where it's just like, yeah, 'cause I was a string bean. You know what I mean? And so, like - and broke, so, like, yeah. You could see my tendons. You know what I mean? Like, yeah, they're good. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: That's 'cause you haven't been eating a whole lot.
MAJORS: Yeah. You know what I mean? So the body does what it does. I don't mind that. But when the role comes, you know, or whatever happens that I go, well, we don't got to - that's not a part of the given circumstances - you know what I mean? - you don't need that, it'll go away, you know, as much as my genetics will allow it to.
RASCOE: Speaking of, you know, "Magazine Dreams," this movie has stayed with me.
RASCOE: I think about it.
RASCOE: It's, like - it's one of those.
RASCOE: But in that way, there's this buzz. There is an Oscar buzz already.
RASCOE: What is your reaction to that?
MAJORS: I love Killian Maddox. Oh, man. I love that character so much. He is - oh, if anybody can see and understand him and appreciate him and stick with him, you know, for the time of that film, I just love it, you know, because Killian is that - we all have Killians inside of us, you know, and that particular story, girl, we worked hard.
RASCOE: To get that together.
MAJORS: We worked hard on that. I mean, the level of difficulty - I mean, I had no idea. I remember we started that picture, and I was saying to Elijah Bynum, our director - I said, bro, I just don't know if I can do this movie without crying. You know what I mean? Every time we'd talk about it, I would just start just - and not boohooing (ph), just - like, just weeping, you know? I was like, I don't know how we're going to shoot this, you know, F-ing film. Like, I just - I never ask folks to see a movie. And I don't care if they see it, but that movie...
RASCOE: They're going to see it.
MAJORS: Please go see it.
RASCOE: They're going to be talking about it.
MAJORS: Please go see it.
RASCOE: I mean, I have to say, like, what stood out to me about Killian, like, who is an amateur bodybuilder...
RASCOE: ...Trying to become famous - like, I felt like he was someone who was trying to be but could not fit...
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: ...In the - what he had built for himself.
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: And it never came out...
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: ...Like, the way that he wanted it to.
MAJORS: That's right.
RASCOE: Tried to be tough, but it always was, like, a little off.
MAJORS: Yeah. You ain't built like that, kid.
RASCOE: It's not...
MAJORS: You built, but you ain't built like that.
RASCOE: It's not - exactly.
RASCOE: And so, like, is that what you loved about him or that you...
MAJORS: Oh, wow.
RASCOE: ...Were sympathetic or empathetic about?
MAJORS: I love the try in him. I love the - he never quit.
MAJORS: Oh, man. Yeah, he never quit. And, you know, in that picture in particular, you know, he's a Black man, you know, and he's living in his world, and it's not easy. And there's so many things Elijah and I spoke about, the director. We spoke about, you know, like, what is it to be a Black man in society? Like, they're terrified of you.
MAJORS: And at the same time, that's not - I'm not going to do a blanket statement, you know? But in many cases, it feels like they're terrified, and then they want to see us at the same time. You're being gaslit as a human being. If no one sees you and you walk and you talk and no one acknowledges you, you are being gaslit as a human being. Your entire existence is being disregarded. And that's Killian's plight. And ultimately, it is a story of triumph, and it's a love letter, you know? It's - yeah, it's one of those, as you said.
RASCOE: You talked about being a Black man and this idea of masculinity...
RASCOE: ...And this idea of what that encompasses, right?
RASCOE: And I think that you probably are not aware of this, but a few days ago, you were trending on Twitter.
RASCOE: Some people didn't like that you were wearing pink in Ebony, and they felt like it wasn't masculine enough. I know that you have said that you look at a lot of your roles, like, be it Atticus...
RASCOE: ...Finch (ph) in "Lovecraft Country," as an antidote...
RASCOE: ...To, like, a limited way of thinking about masculinity.
RASCOE: What do you say to those - I mean, I think they're haters. I think it's toxic. But...
MAJORS: Well, yeah, I imagine it's the homies, right?
RASCOE: Yeah, it was...
MAJORS: Right? It was the homies that started some shit.
RASCOE: Yeah, who was like...
RASCOE: It's - they - you know...
MAJORS: I'd like to meet the fellows - you know what I mean? - 'cause...
RASCOE: Well, I think they - you think they would want to meet you, though? - 'cause they might have to...
MAJORS: I don't even take it there. You know what I mean?
MAJORS: I would just like to - I'd just be curious. You know...
RASCOE: What they have to say.
MAJORS: Tell me what masculinity is. You know what I mean? Like, it is fluid.
MAJORS: You know, you tell me what it is. You know, I mean, I wouldn't want to walk up on me in the street. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: Yeah, I don't think they do.
MAJORS: Like, just 110%. You know what I mean? Like - but it's bigger than that. It's love, you know? It's like, maybe there's fear in that. Maybe it makes you fearful. It's tough because the conversations you would have man to man - you know what I mean? - those conversations you would have, you know...
RASCOE: It's very different from Twitter.
RASCOE: But what do you think masculinity - like, what is your definition of masculinity?
MAJORS: It's balanced, isn't it? There's strength, right? And there's vulnerability. There's awareness, and then there's acknowledgement of ignorance. A big part of it is kindness - right? - use of power.
MAJORS: Gentleness - these are masculine characteristics.
MAJORS: It's quite unmasculine to try to emasculate another man.
MAJORS: I'm not coming for nobody.
MAJORS: But kindness is a big part of it. It doesn't matter, you know, how much you weigh or how much you bench press. That's not the point. You know what I mean? It's none of that. You know, it's an energy. It's an energy. You know what I mean? And I hear my brothers. We've been - we fight and claw for every inch of positive popularity we get, of positive news we get, you know? And I am not - it's not lost on me that in this moment, because of the pictures I've made and because of the way I move through the world, I may be seen as that. And I don't shy away from, you know, this idea of Black masculinity. I'm just living my life. I am male. I am Black. These things go hand in hand - I mean, that - foot in shoe, hand in glove. You know, I ask them to, you know, be a bit more enlightened.
RASCOE: As a Black actor - you are a Black actor.
RASCOE: Is there a fear of, not only do I have to make the right decisions, but I don't want to let, you know, my grandma down...
RASCOE: ...Or my mama down...
RASCOE: ...Or that I won't live up to expectations? Do you feel that?
MAJORS: I think my fear goes to, man, I hope they like it, you know? God, I hope they like me - you know what I mean? - or they like what that guy did, you know, that they like Damian, that they like Kang, you know, because I made it for them. I mean, that's the fear, you know? As far as the folk and homies and family go, you know, my mama and them, like - whew. It's just - it don't get better than this, you know?
RASCOE: They proud.
MAJORS: Like, hell yeah, they proud, you know? Like, and I'm quiet about it, you know? Like, can't nobody hurt me. You know what I mean? Like, as long as Terri - which is my mother's name - as long as Terri is happy - you know what I mean? - as long as my little girl Ella is like, go ahead, Daddy - you know what I mean? - like, you don't - you can't make art and worry about what folks think. You know what I mean? And yet there's a delicate balance. It's a tightrope because you're making it for them. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: Yeah, for them to be entertained...
MAJORS: So you have...
RASCOE: ...And to learn...
MAJORS: To be moved.
RASCOE: ...And to feel.
MAJORS: To be moved. You know what I mean?
RASCOE: And to feel something. Yeah.
MAJORS: But it's deep, you know, because you go - I do want to - it's about responsibility. That's what I feel - you know? - that the folks that listen, you know, kind of understand what I'm getting at, you know, because I - yeah. That's the fear - you know, that I would be misunderstood. But my objective is - you know, I really believe just do the best you can, you know? It seems so simple. You know, I think it was someone told me that when I was 17 years old. I was like, get the hell out of my face. You know what I mean? But when it comes down to it, that's really what it's about.
RASCOE: Well, Jonathan Majors, I appreciate you so much for talking with us, and it's been a great conversation. Thank you.
MAJORS: This has been great. I don't want to leave. This is fabulous.
RASCOE: Thank you.
MAJORS: Thank you for your time.
RASCOE: Well, I appreciate that.
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