As readers of Marvel Comics know, Luke Cage is a superhero with unbreakable skin, super strength and a speedy recovery time. But Mike Colter, who plays Luke in Netflix series Jessica Jones, saw him differently. His creativity is what helped him land the part of the Hero for Hire.
According to Vulture, Colter, who was unfamiliar with the comics, went to his audition with one particular edge: “I realized there was something about this character that was underplayed. .... I’m always looking for a character where I can bring something to the table that only I can give.” He found an interpretation of the character that obviously no other actor had done — or done as well.
“For Luke, especially, the fact that he’s a superhero is a secondary thing. That’s what stood out to me when I read it. I didn’t see the superhero aspect of it ... yeah, I think of him as a human first and a superhero second.”
Colter isn’t the only actor to have nailed a part based on finding an interpretation different enough to catch the casting directors' attentions. For example, Gretchen Mol won the role of Bettie Page in The Notorious Bettie Page by bringing “sweetness, friendliness and good nature” to the part, rather than Page's raw sexuality.
The “human first, superhero second” approach worked. Luke felt as grounded and real as any other character there … one who happens to break limbs and beds alike.
If you liked Colter as Luke (and don’t we all?), you’re in luck. We’ll be seeing him again in the upcoming TV series Luke Cage. And again in the upcoming TV series The Defenders.