It took ten years for Jodie Turner-Smith to become an overnight sensation. In 2009, aged 22 and having never acted professionally, she quit her job as a corporate banker in Pittsburgh and bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. A decade of modelling, TV work and bit-parts later, the Peterborough-born actress landed her first leading film role opposite Daniel Kaluuya in outlaw road movie Queen & Slim. All that hard work paid off as her sensational, multi-faceted performance established her as one of the most in-demand actresses on the planet. “It’s been completely mad,” she says, now 34 and struggling to find the words to describe all the ways her life has transformed since then. “The last three years have been… wow. Very wow. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m just going with it, leaning into it and trying to learn as much as I can.”
By the time Queen & Slim hit screens in November 2019, Turner-Smith was already in Berlin shooting her next film, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. Playing a Navy SEAL in a big-budget military action-thriller couldn’t be further removed from the breakout role which made her name, but Turner-Smith says she was attracted by the opportunity to play another “strong, complicated Black woman” – and by the chance to work with the film’s leading man. “I really jumped at the idea of doing a film like this with Michael B. Jordan,” she says. “That was really what brought me to the project. As we know, he already has a very successful franchise in Creed and he’s, you know… the Sexiest Man Alive!”
Jordan was indeed awarded that lofty title by People magazine last November, and in Without Remorse it’s easy to see what they saw in him. In one particularly testosterone-heavy scene – already put to good use in trailers for the film – Jordan strips off his shirt to reveal an unbelievably ripped torso before kicking the living shit out of a bunch of riot cops. “That’s such a great scene!” says Turner-Smith with a grin. “It all looks so cool, and then when he takes his top off it’s like…” She raises her voice to a yell: “‘Give the people what they want!’” but barely gets the words out before collapsing into a fit of laughter.