Jonathan Majors On Sharing A Movie Character With Michael K. Williams

"The Harder They Fall" is in theaters now, and its worldwide Netflix release is almost upon us. Jonathan Majors leads the cast of a Western that also includes Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Lakeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo. We've already heard that writer-director Jeymes Samuel envisions a sequel, but what some viewers might not know is that "The Harder They Fall" already has a prequel of sorts in the form of a short film starring the late Michael K. Williams.

In addition to being a filmmaker, Samuels is also an accomplished singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name The Bullitts. Music runs in the family; he's the brother of the Grammy-winning artist Seal, known to movie fans for his hit song "Kiss from a Rose" from the "Batman Forever" soundtrack. The 50-minute short film, "They Die by Dawn," accompanied Samuels' 2013 album, "They Die by Dawn & Other Short Stories," and it served as a testing ground for "The Harder They Fall."

In it, Williams plays another fictionalized version of Nat Love, the same real-life historical figure Majors is embodying in "The Harder They Fall." In addition to Williams, "They Die by Dawn" — much like "The Harder They Fall — is loaded with recognizable faces, including Isaiah Washington, Nate Parker, Jesse Williams, Erykah Badu, Rosario Dawson, and Giancarlo Esposito.

/Film's own Shania Russell recently spoke to Majors about what it was like for him to take over the character of Nat Love, and whether Williams' performance informed his approach in any way. Read his full comments below.

Jonathan Majors on They Die by Dawn

Here is what Majors said about Williams' portrayal of Nat Love in "They Die by Dawn," and how he approached his own version of the character:

"I watched it, and I watched it once, and then that was it. And I was watching for, because Michael and I internally share a great deal of similarities, but cinema is ... you're photographing it. So we're different bodies. We're different men, different artists. So there was no way I was going to be able to do it. There was no way I was going to be able to do what Mike does. Nobody can, I can't do that. I can't do that. You know what I mean? I got to do it my way. I got to do it my way. 

"So I was watching that film for the relationship between Jeymes and the camera, and how he worked it out. But no, Mike's portrayal of his Nat Love, it's just so gorgeous. So gorgeous. And I think the thing we do share is just the heartache, the heartache that Nat carries, which is specific to Nat in the eyes, the way that heartache manifests itself in the eyes was something that I did notice in Michael's portrayal and agreed with that."

"The Harder They Fall" hits Netflix on November 3, 2021.