Michael B. Jordan grappled with racial tension for ‘Fahrenheit 451’

Michael B. Jordan is only 31, but he may not have another year as monumental as this one. His role as the vicious Erik Killmonger in the Ryan Coogler blockbuster “Black Panther,” which has grossed a reported $1.34 billion to date, has brought the Newark, NJ-raised actor to a level of fame he never realized from his other films, “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station” among them.

These days, Jordan tells The Post, he can’t walk down the street without attracting attention.

“People used to stop me and just say, ‘What’s up?’” he says. “Now it’s grown — it’s crazy. That’s the big impact [‘Black Panther’] has had on my life.”

Now there’s another role that may make passers-by look twice at Jordan: that of firefighter Guy Montag in the latest adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451,” premiering Saturday night on HBO.

Based on Ray Bradbury’s science-fiction classic, the movie presents a not-so-distant future in which mind control is enforced by a fire department that routinely destroys any cultural information it calls “graffiti.” In Bradbury’s 1953 novel, that meant books, but in this remake, the forbidden material includes films, paintings, sheet music and recordings.

Now there’s another role that may make passers-by look twice at Jordan: that of firefighter Guy Montag in the latest adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451,” premiering Saturday night on HBO.

At HBO’s New York headquarters, Jordan — the B, by the way, stands for Bakari — is dressed casually in gray trousers and a navy, short-sleeve polo shirt that gives his well-defined biceps plenty of breathing room. He says he was initially reluctant to play Montag, who experiences a crisis of conscience when he witnesses the self-immolation of a book lover who’s strapped novels onto her body like a suicide bomber. Before leaving the scene of the conflagration, Montag swipes a copy of Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From the Underground,” and his own revolution is set in motion.

“Montag being a fireman, burning books, art, information, passing judgment on people — I couldn’t help but, as I was reading [the script], see brown and black faces,” Jordan says. “I didn’t want to be an oppressor with what was going on in my community. The police brutality, the shootings and all that stuff. I didn’t want to be seen as that.”

Jordan says director Ramin Bahrani helped him see the story from another vantage point: as a portrayal of a world in which people have inadvertently given up their identities to tech companies and big business.

“I wanted to be part of the narrative that helps change the habit of thought,” Jordan says. “That’s what I think true story-telling is about . . . I wanted to go against the grain.”

It may seem that Jordan was an overnight success, thanks to “Fruitvale Station.” When that film came out in 2013, his performance as Oscar Grant, a police-shooting victim at an Oakland, Calif., BART station, drew raves.

But Jordan had been working up to that moment of recognition for years. Modeling as a child for Modell’s Sporting Goods and Toys“R”Us ads led to brief appearances on the first season of “The Sopranos” and on “The Cosby Show.” A stint on the ABC soap “All My Children” paved the way for a pivotal role as a young drug dealer on the first season of the HBO drama “The Wire” and, eventually, a regular role in the last two seasons of “Friday Night Lights.” His first feature film was 2001’s “Hardball” with Keanu Reeves.

What “Fruitvale” made clear was that the camera loved him: Critics saw in Jordan the same movie-star charisma exuded by Denzel Washington. “People always want to compare something to something,” Jordan says modestly.

Recently, Jordan had the chance to sit down with Washington himself.

“To talk to him and have the conversation we had was pretty awesome,” he says of the actor, who’s currently starring in “The Iceman Cometh” on Broadway. “I just want to be the best version of myself. I just want to continue to grow and be the best actor I can be and evolve as I get older. I want to stand the test of time. That’s something he’s done. If I can stick around half the time he did and continue to elevate my game, I’ll be pleased.”

For now, though, Broadway — Jordan’s dream — will have to wait.

“I can’t do it now,” he says. “There’s too much stuff going on.” Jordan is already committed to filming “Wrong Answer” with his frequent collaborator Ryan Coogler, about a real-life Atlanta teacher who altered his students’ test scores to get more funding. And, lately, he’s been in Philadelphia filming a sequel to the boxing drama “Creed.”

The actor, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif., with his parents, Michael A. and Donna, is happy to be back with Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson, his co-stars from the first “Creed.”

“This is a little bigger than the first one,” Jordan says of the sequel. “That one didn’t have a clear antagonist. We have an antagonist in this one.” Like whom?

“I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” he says, and flashes a broad smile.

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