Here for the laughs! Michael Evans Behling may portray Jordan Baker on the popular teen drama All American — but he’s more than happy to be the show’s resident comedian.
“The first three, four seasons [of the show] I feel like I made Jordan a little bit lighter here and there, but he definitely had the dramatic moments. This fifth season — and you might be able to tell – I have definitely leaned more into the comedy aspect,” Behling, 26, exclusively told Us Weekly in an interview published on Monday, November 28. “I love the comedy aspect. That’s something that I didn’t really think I had in me for the longest time until I kind of got these scripts. I thought, okay, let me really lean into it.”
While the Indiana native — who credits his character’s witty demeanor to “our best comedy writers” David Strauss and Mike Herro — revealed that playing into Jordan’s lighter side is “definitely for a reason,” fans will have to wait for the payoff. “I can’t necessarily get into it because you’ll understand when the season is finished,” he teased. “I love doing it for sure.”
Behling has starred on the CW series since its 2018 premiere. While the show was an underrated critical darling following its release, the teen dramedy hit a new stratosphere of popularity when season 1 became available to stream on Netflix.
Behling’s Jordan quickly became a favorite among fans, with much of that adoration stemming from his dynamic with costar Samantha Logan, who plays his twin Olivia Baker. It’s a relationship that Behling said comes easy for the twosome, who already enjoy each other’s company off screen.
“It’s kind of weird because me and Sam, we already kind of look alike. We kind of fit the part of being twins, but then our personalities mesh so well, especially whenever we’re both in character,” he explained, noting the fact that they both have siblings helps their natural “banter.”
“Mocking them is [what] I grew up with,” he quipped. “So bringing that into the relationship on screen is literally organic for me. For the both of us. There’ll be moments where we’re just talking on set without the cameras rolling we’ll kind of have the same exact thought or finish each other’s sentences.”
As for if viewers can expect more from the brother-sister duo during the remainder of season 5, Behling teased that they will “come together in a way that you’ve never seen the Baker twins come together” before. “Something will occur that will force them to become closer than they’ve ever become. I think you’re gonna see [them] just care for each other,” he hinted to Us.
Jordan’s familial relationships aren’t the only thing hooking fans this season. His new romance with Layla (Greta Onieogou) — his best friend Spencer James’ (Daniel Ezra) ex and sister Olivia’s best friend — has taken center stage.
While some viewers have argued that Jordan would be better off with ex Simone (Geffri Maya), who now stars on the spinoff All American: Homecoming, others believe the sparks between Jordan and Layla are a breath of fresh air for the series. For Behling, it seemed like the perfect match.
“They both have incredibly large hearts. I know that Jordan can be a hothead and throw the first punch and say some really outlandish things every now and then, but I believe deep down he has a big heart. And there’s already that connection from childhood friends,” the A Cinderella Story: Starstruck actor explained to Us.
The Grey’s Anatomy alum admitted that there was “a little emotional cheating” between his and Onieogou’s characters, but credited his long-term romance with Simone as the reason his relationship with Layla was able to “blossom.”
“Simone honestly was the catalyst for Jordan’s heart being explored a little bit deeper,” he shared. “Because I think without her he would never set it down and would’ve never really stopped being the bad boy that he was.”
He added, “I think that she really showed him what true love can be.”
While Behling revealed that showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll has likely “closed the book on that for good” regarding the Jordan and Simone romance, he and Maya still have their “wildest dreams” of another crossover event in the future — just don’t expect them to fall back in love anytime soon.
“Personally, I think that the way that Jordan and Layla are going, I think that Jordan’s pretty happy and pretty dead set [on the breakup]. I think that [he and Simone] just want the best for each other,” he told Us. “Like Simone said in AAHC episode 1, ‘My New Year’s wish is that you find happiness, whether that’s with whoever that’s with. And I think that they both genuinely meant that whenever they exchange those words.”
When it comes to what lies ahead, Behling shared that Jordan will be questioning his future at GAU.
“He starts to feel a little bit rocky. We’re gonna see a pretty dramatic shift with the dynamic of particular characters. You’re gonna see a different side of Jordan hopefully than we’ve ever seen and then you’ll see him hopefully rise up and rise above the adversity,” he teased.
In his own life, Behling is focused on taking All American’s dedication to discussing divisive topics and echoing those sentiments in his real life. This last year, he visited a school in California for American Eagle’s Bring Change to Mind initiative and spoke to kids about erasing the stigma surrounding mental health.
“I had a lot of fun getting to go talk to some students, and that was a fun opportunity just to be able to hear them,” he gushed to Us. “Our youth is much more emotionally advanced and in touch with their emotions than I ever was in high school. They’re able to pinpoint and really clarify what it is they’re feeling.”
While Behling hasn’t been able to dive into mental health awareness as deeply as he’d like to on screen, he’s hoping that All American will give him that opportunity.
“I’m hoping maybe one day [Jordan will] slip into a little bit of a mental state that needs to be explored on the show,” he said. “But just to be able to be a part of a show that I believe accurately depicts [mental illness] and shows our youth that it gets better. As dark as it may seem, it gets better. I think that we’re all very fortunate to be a part of a show who that does that, that doesn’t shy away from those tougher topics.”
All American airs on The CW Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.