Jonathan Majors On The Extreme Relevance Of Jesse Brown's Story In Devotion

It's remarkable how often seemingly ancient history becomes relevant again in our modern day — sometimes tragically so. Such is the case in director J.D. Dillard's newest movie, "Devotion." The movie focuses on the Korean War of the early 1950s, telling the harrowing true story of two elite U.S. Navy fighter pilots. Specifically, the movie shines a light on Jesse Brown, played by Jonathan Majors ("Lovecraft Country"), who became the first Black aviator to ever complete the U.S. Navy's basic flight training program.

Looper's Don Kaye recently had the chance to speak with Majors in honor of the film's forthcoming release this weekend. During the conversation, Kaye asked the actor who relevant Brown's story is all these years later, particularly for Black people who are still facing roadblocks in today's society. Majors, for his part, feels Brown's story is an ever-relevant hero's journey to be used as a guiding light:

"It's extremely relevant. I mean, what do heroes do? They give us a light at the end of the tunnel. They give us hope. They give a blueprint on how to get through our own trials and tribulations and shortcomings, and in this case, members of the African diaspora, in this country and abroad, are constantly and consistently having to deal with systematic roadblocks. That's just with the system. Not to mention, but it feels like to just move through the world, with a whole — moving through white supremacy is not comfortable. There are things that happen out loud, and there are things that happen secretly that impact a human being."

'He combats it with joy and devotion'

Brown's story is equal parts inspiring and tragic. It's a tragedy that he had to endure what he had to endure to break the ground that he did, and it's a shame he didn't get to live out the rest of his life as a hero in his own country. But the inspirational part is truly universal, as seeing someone actually manage to do the seemingly impossible is something that transcends time. If Brown was able to accomplish the miraculous feats that he did against what he faced, what can't one accomplish today through pure devotion? Majors sees his story as a testament to overcoming the seemingly impossible:

"With Jesse Brown, we see a man, a Black man, a member of the African diaspora, deal with these roadblocks. And he metabolizes that pain and that racism and bigotry, and it essentially fuels him in a way. He overcomes it and he combats it with joy and devotion to something that seems impossible, and he achieves the impossible. So if anything, it serves as a testament to one's own drive and to one's own hopes."

The film's cast also includes Glen Powell ("Top Gun: Maverick"), Christina Jackson ("The Night House"), Thomas Sadoski ("John Wick"), and Joe Jonas ("Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation"). The film is based on the book of the same name by Adam Makos, with the script written by Jake Crane and Jonathan A. H. Stewart.

"Devotion" hits theaters on November 23, 2022.