While Mike Colter enjoys the life of a comic book hero on Luke Cage and The Defenders, he occasionally likes to break away and become the heel. In Girls Trip, he plays Stewart Pierce, a man with a great life. But his wandering eye and wandering heart leads his wife Ryan (Regina Hall) to question their marriage and go on a wild, girls-only vacation during the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.
Mike took a few moments from his busy days as a hero to talk to us about his heel turn in Girl’s Trip and what he’s watching on TV when he finds a free moment.
I’m so busy [that] it is hard for me to watch anything on a schedule. So I catch-up with things after the fact. Like I’m just now watching Big Little Lies. Everybody knows what that’s about, and I’m like, “I’ve got one more episode.” I’m that guy. I’m weeks and weeks late to the party. I’m also watching The Deuce on HBO right now.
I’ve got like 10 episodes of everything that are just sitting there and I haven’t touched it. I tend to do the on demand thing. Sometimes Game of Thrones will come on and I watch that almost when it comes out.
I finished Narcos season 3, which is unbelievable. Awesome. Love that show. Big fan of that. I watched GLOW. It was a very short, succinct series that was about 10 episodes. I watched that when I had a weekend [off]. There’s so many shows on television. It is so hard to keep up. Handmaid’s Tale — I hear it’s phenomenal, but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.
I watched a documentary on John G. Avildsen (John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs) the other day. He directed Rocky and The Karate Kid. People don’t think about it, but these are classic movies that have lasted and stood the test of time. He gets very little credit but he’s done some great work, you know? He’s one of those unique directors that people just overlook.
There’s a movie that Guillermo Navarro (the director of the third episode of Luke Cage in the first season) is making called Cocaine Godmother. It’s about Griselda Blanco, the notorious Columbian drug lord. She lived in Queens and Los Angeles and was operating during the same time as Pablo Escobar. She’s responsible for most of the violence in Miami that was in the early ’80s. She was like a female Scarface. [The documentary] Cocaine Cowboys tells part of her story, but I’m looking forward to that story being told [as a drama].
(Catherine Zeta-Jones, pictured, is set to star in the Lifetime movie.)
Erik Amaya for Rotten Tomatoes: Is a movie like Girls Trip a break from the superheroing?
Colter: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kinda going from heroes to heels. One moment it’s like people celebrating, next thing you know people looking at you with a side eye going, “Ah, this guy.” It’s like why? Why, why, why? Why did you do that? So, I was looking forward to that. So, I embraced that. I wanted to be playing a somewhat likable yet misunderstood unlikeable kinda guy. You kinda understand it, but you don’t wanna justify anything he’s doing, and stuff like that. I thought it was a nice departure.
RT: How often do you get offered the heel-turn part? Has Luke Cage changed what comes your way?
Colter: It doesn’t really affect [the parts I see] too much. When I’m thinking about choosing other roles, there’s always something that’s very un–Luke Cage like. I think it gives me something to sort of focus on. You play a hero and you do all this stuff with action, and you do all this other stuff for a long period of time, you want that departure.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) September 19, 2017
RT: When you get ready for a performance in Luke Cage or something like Girls Trip, is it the same approach in a lighthearted movie as it is with something in a more serious tone?
Colter: I think that somebody said there’s really no difference in playing comedy and drama. Both of them take full commitments. You have to commit to the stakes and the circumstances. And, that’s what you’re always holding on to. No matter how absurd the situation is, you have to commit to the truth of the situation, the truth of the moment, the truth of the scene. I don’t think it’s a whole or huge departure when you talk about comedy versus drama.
One of my favorite actors, John Lithgow, he goes between the two and he does it quite well. I love that about him. It takes a great versatility and understanding of the material.
RT: Did you get to spend a lot of time at the Essence Music Festival (where portions of Girls Trip was filmed)?
Colter: Yeah! It was absolutely crazy. I was overwhelmed. First of all [the shoot] was June-July-August. It was pretty hot. It was so hot that it was 90 at night. It was one of those weird things where you’re like, “It’s a great time to be in New Orleans” because the Festival brings a lot of people. They sort of converge in New Orleans and the city becomes so busy. It’s hard to find any place that’s not completely packed with people. It’s not Mardi Gras, but it’s close to it.
RT: What would Luke Cage make of Stewart Pierce?
Colter: Luke Cage would be sort of disappointed in Stewart Peirce for squandering that happiness. I think he would probably frown upon him a bit. Luke Cage is sort of a hopeless romantic. He wants to be married. He wants to have kids. He wants to settle down and sort of do the things that normal people do. And that’s not in the cards for him. He wishes he could just have that sort of consistency [Stewart had]. That sense of peace.
RT: What is the first superhero you remember?
Mike: The Incredible Hulk. I grew up watching it. The TV show was big for me. I loved the TV show. I met Lou Ferrigno a couple times, I remember the television show very, very vividly and, of course, the music playing in the beginning.
RT: Are you happy to keep Luke on the ground, or are you ready to do something a little more crazy and cosmic?
Mike: I think it’d be fun to see him in that world. Because that world is so otherworldly, sort of galactic. Think those [Avengers] things from his stand point. He doesn’t leave home that much. He’s sort of a very small fish, a small neighborhood kinda guy. I don’t think he travels much. It would be interesting to see how he would sort of blend in with that kinda crowd and those problems. He’s very simple and very straightforward. It’d be funny to see how he would play with those guys, you know? If he had those toys, or if he was in that universe. I think the situation itself would create a certain sort of appeal for him.