Already 2023 is shaping up to be the year of Jonathan Majors. The actor's rise these past few years has been nothing short of meteoric, and with three films poised to premiere in back-to-back consecutive months, his star is all but cemented in Hollywood. Majors credits his success to a series of shrewd choices at the beginning of his career, a time that's decidedly tough for young actors. It can be easy to give into the lure of a project when you're a starving artist — to work just for the sake of saying you're working, regardless of the quality of the project — but Majors has always been choosy with that sort of thing.
Even in the early days of his career, Majors rarely felt pressure to say yes. "Maybe that's my Texas confidence, but I always said no," the actor recently told Ebony. It's never been about the path of least resistance: "I pick roles where I go, 'Is this going to challenge me to be a better human being? Is it going to hurt? Is it going to scare me?'" Part of that discipline definitely has something to do with his upbringing — but it was also inspired by a conversation between two of his heroes, Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington.
'My Job Is To Tell Stories'
"[I]t was clear early on what type of actor I wanted to be and how I wanted to be seen and the type of work I wanted to do," Majors continued. It's never been about ego for the actor; it definitely hasn't been about the money, either. "Early on, I had one rule for myself, and I say it to younger actors, too: Keep your rent low, and you don't have to panic." It's the rule that allowed him to be picky with his projects, and to follow one piece of advice in particular:
"Sidney Poitier told Denzel Washington, 'The first three films you make will define your career.' Those first three, four characters, especially when you're talking mainstream, will define your career. I was very conscientious about not playing roles I didn't think were going to move me forward as an actor."
Majors' calculated choices have obviously paid off. Despite a relatively short list of credits, his breakthrough roles established him as one to watch early on. After "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" in 2019, mainstream success wasn't far behind. His roles in "Lovecraft Country," "Loki," and "The Harder They Fall" couldn't be more different from the other, but they're all united by Majors' consistent approach to storytelling:
"I'll play the bad guy, I'll play the good guy, I'll play the morally corrupt guy. Because my job is to tell stories, and to tell stories in a way that allows people to see themselves and to change for the better … If I can heal the character, I can heal myself. If I heal myself and people are watching, other people will be healed."
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