It's not that far from Indiana to Beverly Hills.
That's what Michael Evans Behling, who has portrayed Jordan Baker on The CW drama All American for the past two seasons, discovered when he went west.
Michael, who turns 24 in early March, grew up in rural Indiana on 10 acres where he tended to the family garden, land, and chicken coop. It was there where he developed his love of nature.
So how did country boy Michael ever learn to relate to the entitled Jordan?
In a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, Michael pointed to two similarities: a competitive mindset and a mixed-race identity.
Jordan is the starting quarterback on his father Billy's Beverly High football team. Michael was a multi-sport star in high school who went on to compete in track for two years at Indiana State University.
Jordan is the son of a black father and a white mother, while Michael was adopted into a white family.
So how did Michael become Jordan?
After a small part as the aptly named Handsome Dude on Empire in 2017, Michael moved to Los Angeles in January 2018.
His first audition in February 2018 was for Jordan, and he earned the part after several callbacks.
Growing up the son of Coach Billy Baker, a former South Crenshaw star who went on to play college and pro ball, has had an impact on Jordan.
“Jordan had more pent-up aggression [about who he is] in Season 1,” Michael explained.
“With his growth in Season 2, [being Billy's son] doesn't impact him as much. He still wants to connect with the Crenshaw side of himself. Billy's a good role model and Jordan still looks up to him in countless ways.”
Their relationship was disrupted earlier in All American Season 2 when Billy revealed that he had had an affair with Grace James, Spencer's mother, and temporarily moved out. Jordan and Billy didn't speak for a time.
“Jordan wants what best for everyone that remains in his life,” Michael said. “That results in a protectiveness toward them against anyone outside [such as Billy at that time].”
Jordan has also had an up-and-down relationship with his twin sister Olivia.
“It was kind of fragile in Season 1, largely because of miscommunication,” Michael recalled. “They were best friends and it's getting back to that. They're always going to be there for each other.”
Jordan spent the first part of All American Season 2 enjoying the fruits of being a football champion, dogging around town with various women. That ended abruptly when he found out he might be a father.
“Jordan was upfront to everyone that he was involved with,” Michael opined.
“But the turning point was when Simone dropped the pregnancy bomb on him. That was the catalyst that turned him toward being a more mature young man.”
Jordan has become more thoughtful of others.
This has taken the form of warning Billy about a powerful booster trying to force him out as coach or bringing home Simone to live with the Bakers after her parents gave her an ultimatum concerning her baby.
Michael maintains that this is the real Jordan: “Very much so. He just doesn't always think things through, like rolling up with his pregnant ex during his mother's [D.A. victory] celebration.”
His character has evolved over the past two seasons, Michael said.
“He's still a cocky kid but he's maturing into more of a man,” he added. “He cares more about others than himself. He's kind, and charming, and tries to be the right person.”
This season takes place during the Beverly High football off-season, with football season returning during All American Season 3.
As a result, there's been less football but more drama, delving into such social issues as racism, sexism, and gun violence.
That's the way Michael likes it.
“I enjoy getting these scripts that are all dark and dramatic,” he said.
“We have a writing team that will push us to get the best from us.”
It's Michael's off-season now and he spends his time working out, going out with friends, playing videogames, and relaxing, waiting for that right next project to come along.
All American airs at 8/7c Mondays on The CW or you can watch All American online right here via TV Fanatic.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.