Life imitates art for ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Creed’ recasts Rocky as a familiar mentor.

LOS ANGELES — “Fruitvale Station” writer-director Ryan Coogler is sending a love letter to his father in the form of the latest “Rocky” film. Tessa Thompson is more than familiar with Hollywood—she grew up in the heart of the city. “It was my backyard; we would walk on Hollywood Boulevard to do errands or whatever,” the 32-year-old actress recalls. “When I found myself on television it felt like happenstance because of my sheer proximity to it.

It took director Ryan Coogler years to convince Sylvester Stallone to bring the Italian Stallion out of retirement for Creed (in theaters Wednesday), a Rocky spinoff focused on a young fighter, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. And as Coogler told a story about a father-son relationship between Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, of course) and Adonis Creed (”Fruitvale” star Michael B.

Since childhood, acting was always something I was doing; it was the only thing I cared about being good at.” Although Thompson worked steadily in television, her big break came with a one-two punch in 2014. Jordan), the young filmmaker and his cast found themselves being coached off-screen by Rocky himself. “There was a lot of art imitating life,” said Coogler, 29. “The same way Rocky has this advice for Adonis, (Stallone) would kind of treat (us) the same way.” “Creed” tells the story of Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Rocky’s late opponent-turned-friend Apollo Creed. First was the Sundance-award-winning Dear White People, in which she played a black student at an Ivy League college, and then the Academy Award-winning Selma, in which she portrayed civil-rights activist Diane Nash. Then his father got sick, suffering from a neuromuscular disease. “His skeletal muscles were atrophying, so he literally was becoming weaker,” Coogler says. “He was losing the things that he associated with his masculinity and independence.” A new take on Rocky’s post-fighting years emerged in the director’s mind. “That was when I came up with this story of this hero kind of dealing with his own mortality,” he says. Though initially reluctant, the old champ agrees to coach the young boxer, and they form a filial bond that grows in tandem with the stakes they face.

The ‘art object’ is $30,000 and doesn’t work and there’s only one bulb that is in Ireland where it was made.” Jordan is laughing, as Stallone’s arms stretch wide. “Who’s going to fix it?” he demands. The sixth film had been a victory lap, a solid sendoff after a disappointing return on 1990’s Rocky V. “It was very nerve-wracking in the beginning, that’s why it took a little while to commit to it,” Stallone says. “I knew Michael’s sincerity, Ryan’s sincerity, but no one starts out (and) sits around a table with a screenplay and the director goes, ‘I’ve got a great idea — let’s make a real bomb!’ ” Creed, Coogler’s second feature, begins its story in Los Angeles, introducing Adonis, who never met his famous heavyweight champion father. Thompson plays Bianca, a singer who ultimately becomes Creed’s love interest. “It was important to Ryan that she wasn’t this ringside cheerleader,” Thompson says of her character, “that she had her own ambitions.” (In real life, Thompson provides vocals for the L.A.-based indie-soul band Caught a Ghost.) Up next is HBO’s Westworld, a reboot of Michael Crichton’s 1973 culty science-fiction Western, whose production team includes Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and J. So Adonis sets off for Philadelphia seeking out the one man who has access to his legacy. “He’s going through pretty much what Rocky went through in a different way,” Stallone says. “Rocky had given up on life. (Adonis) hasn’t given up on life.

When he met Stallone, he “was like an uncle,” Jordan said, “somebody I could sit down and talk shop with.” If Stallone recognized the young men’s work ethic, Coogler and Jordan were awed by his. They saw what Coogler described as “a 68-year-old dude with nothing to prove” who filled the margins of his script with handwritten notes and reflected on his scenes hours after they’d wrapped. “I don’t ever want to be in a position where I can’t answer his questions, so I’ve got to do the work myself,” said Coogler, who was inspired by Stallone’s commitment to the craft. All Rocky wanted then, he says, was a little respect, and opportunity. “Today there are so few opportunities, it seems like society is shutting down,” says Stallone. “Is (Adonis) speaking for people who feel the same thing? Still, Stallone surprised his director and co-star when he coached, er, coaxed an unexpected performance from Jordan in a particularly emotional scene. But in the end, he’s looking for validation, and eventually Rocky was, too.” Creed is finding a Thanksgiving feast of validation from the critics. “With apologies to Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago, Ryan Coogler’s rousingly emotional new film is the best installment since the 1976 original,” raves Entertainment Weekly.

Variety heralds Stallone for “digging deeper as an actor than he has in years.” The Chicago Tribute begrudgingly acknowledges: “Turns out we really did need another Rocky movie.” “Sly took the pressure off me, Ryan took the pressure off of me,” says Jordan, 28 who piled on muscle to convincingly play a fighter whose name spurs heavyweight champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (played by three-time former Amateur Boxing Association of England heavyweight champion Tony Bellew) to dangle a big-ticket fight. “That was the biggest relief ever. The 28-year-old actor, who paid his dues for years on TV series such as The Wire and Friday Night Lights, finally broke out in 2013’s Fruitvale Station. You’ve got to take a punch.’ I’m like, what?!” recalls Jordan, who whips out his iPhone and presses play on a video. “Goodnight, Irene!” Stallone bellows. “On every Rocky movie, I love when you put the slow-motion camera on and you see the saliva and the lips, and you go, ‘Oh, my God, they took it,’ ” he says. “So I said, ‘Mike, you’re not a real player until you step up and take one.’ ” Stallone nods. “He took it.”

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "Life imitates art for ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site