Interview: Mike Colter, ‘Luke Cage is a darker, grittier, more tangible hero'

The US actor talks Halo: Nightfall and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Luke Cage

Mike Colter is one of the latest actors to enter the world of superheroics. He recently signed on to play Luke Cage in Netflix’s series of Marvel Universe TV shows, making his screen debut as Power Man opposite Krysten Ritter in AKA Jessica Jones, before his own headline series. He’ll be most familiar to UK viewers for his various roles in The Following, American Horror Story and The Good Wife. However for gamers, he’s Jameson Locke in Halo 5 and the star of new videogame movie Halo: Nightfall produced by Ridley Scott.

Could you give us a brief synopsis of Halo: Nightfall?

Basically it’s the origin story of Jameson Locke. After a terrorist attack on another planet he ends up working with local authority soldiers to retrieve something that could destroy us all. He’s a guy who has been in the military his whole life, essentially special forces. He’s not used to working with people who question him. He has to keep on course regardless, the mission must be completed even if it’s suicide. He values life but sees the bigger picture.

How did you get involved with the project?

Ridley Scott was part of the production team on The Good Wife. I auditioned on my iPhone and it moved very quickly after that as they thought I was right for the role and pretty soon I was filming in Iceland for two months.

How was Iceland?

It was freezing. In between takes, our teeth were chattering. It was supposed to be hot in the film so we were out there with hardly anything on. It’s a beautiful country but rained all the time. The film was like a rain magnet.

Were you a Halo fan already?

I was aware of the game before; it’s like Coca-Cola, it’s a huge brand. I’m always game for creating a new character and I liked the idea of putting something new into the Halo universe.

You then went onto voice Jameson Locke in the forthcoming Halo 5: Guardians. How did you find that experience?

I felt like a fish out of water. As an actor you’re trying to capture the nuances of real life but voice work is almost over-acting. So I found it very hard to judge if I was doing it right. Then when they put it together with the motion capture it was very exciting, almost 3D. Creepy, but exciting.

Videogame movies don’t always have the best reputation; did you have any reservations getting involved with Halo: Nightfall?

I had some trepidation but with Ridley Scott involved, at the very least, I felt comfortable there would be a certain standard. I hadn’t really done action before and this was an opportunity to bring my brand somewhere else, to go somewhere new as an actor, which was another reason to do it.

And do you think it helped you land the role of Luke Cage?

It couldn’t have hurt. And I really wanted the opportunity to do another physical role as there are only so many years you can do this kind of stuff.

What can you tell us about the Luke Cage TV series on Netflix?

Marvel actually gives you a special training class in how not to say too much in interviews [laughs]. We’re in the middle of shooting AKA Jessica Jones and Luke Cage is a very interesting character who just happens to have super strength and unbreakable skin. He’s a neighbourhood hero, very much linked to New York and Jessica Jones. It’s all part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but Luke Cage is a darker, grittier, more tangible character than Iron Man or Thor. He likes to keep things close to his chest, operate on the hush-hush. He has these abilities but he’s not sure how and when to use them. He’s a very nuanced character.

What are you working on next?

Luke Cage will be taking up a lot of my time. Exactly where he’s going next I don’t know. I’m also working on Agent X with Sharon Stone so I’m juggling them at the moment.

Halo: Nightfall (Anchor Bay) is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Mon 16 Mar.

Halo Nightfall - Trailer

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