Mike Colter on Playing ‘Luke Cage’: “I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist”

Actor Mike Colter

Now that Luke Cage has proven to be so popular that it temporarily crashed Netflix, star Mike Colter finally understands the popularity of the Marvel superhero that he plays. As it turns out, Colter was originally unfamiliar with the Hero for Hire when he was signed to play him — but he tells NPR that it didn’t take long for him to understand the importance of the character in comic book history.

Colter reveals that before he signed to play Cage people who knew him were encouraging him to try out for the role. He recalls, “It was one of those things where I had heard some things through the grapevine. I had family members and friends who would reach out and go, you know, I think this is a character you could play, and they kept sending me pictures of him … and I’m like, that is just silly. Guys, I have an agent. You’re not casting directors. Calm down.”

Because Cage is one of the first African-American superheroes, there is a bit of pressure of Colter to get the character right. He explains that it’s hard to ignore the magnitude of playing such a significant character in comic book history. He explains, “I try not to think about it, because it’s overwhelming to think that there are people who look at me as someone they — I don’t want to say idolize, but if someone’s looking at this character I’m playing and they see inspiration, it’s kind of hard not to welcome that or to receive that … you know, when I started this character, I was looking at it from the standpoint of an artist, I wasn’t thinking about, you know, all the people who were sitting there going, I started reading this comic book in 1972 and this and that, because that kind of stuff, that gets in the way of the creation of what you’re trying to do.”

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