Tessa Thompson Talks ‘Creed’ and Why She Accepted Role [Exclusive]

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Creed’ Takes Rocky Back To The Big Screen.

Rocky’s only friend was Paulie, a brute and a drunk. “It was one of those things where I wanted to change my name as a kid,” recalls the 28-year old actor, who’s actually named for his dad, not the Michael Jordan of hoops legend. “I played sports.

The enduring appeal of Rocky Balboa has survived four decades in the cinematic ring and evolved with pop culture on the road to 2015’s “Creed.” Here’s a look back at a franchise that’s mostly been a box-office knockout. “Rocky” (1976): A small-time, mostly forgotten Philadelphia boxer named Rocky Balboa gets a chance to fight heavyweight champ Apollo Creed in this underdog movie that wound up winning the best picture Oscar. For a post-Watergate America heading into the bicentennial year, it had just the right comeback tone. “Rocky II” (1979): Although an eye injury from his bout against Apollo could mean permanent blindness if he goes back into the ring, Rocky accepts a rematch. Not only was he essentially taking the franchise over from Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, but he, as Adonis Creed, would have to live up to the greatness of his on-screen father Apollo, who was brilliantly played by Carl Weathers in the first four Rocky movies.

Chatting with EURweb associate Chris Richburg, the “Selma” star expressed how the upcoming boxing film provided a prime opportunity to not only work with the “Fruitvale Station” duo but also leave a noticeable mark in the film with her character Bianca, the love interest of Jordan’s Adonis Johnson, the son of Rocky’s late friend and former rival Apollo Creed. “The first thing that attracted me to this project was Ryan Coogler. He had a couple of turtles named Cuff and Link, he eventually acquired a dog named Butkus — and of course he was plucked from obscurity to fight Apollo Creed, the greatest boxer the world had ever known. The follow-up was a box office hit that helped put Hollywood on the lasting path of sequel-mania. “Rocky III” (1982): Now the heavyweight champ, Rocky faces off against a young, hungry rival, Clubber Lang (Mr. Luckily, early reviews for Creed suggest that Jordan is more than worthy of continuing the legacy of both Apollo and Rocky, but Weathers, the person whose opinion perhaps matters most, recently chimed in and gave his thoughts on the actor’s performance. I was such a fan of ‘Fruitvale Station’ and his work in it and I thought that it was the product of an incredible collaboration between he and Michael B.

When Jordan posted on Twitter in response to his Fruitvale Station co-star Octavia Spencer’s post about how she watched Stallone and Weathers in Rocky while growing up, Weathers replied, “@michaelb4jordan You did well for the CREED name! The movie’s theme, “Eye of the Tiger,” earned a best song Oscar nod. “Rocky IV” (1985): In the midst of Reagan-era tensions with the Soviet Union, the franchise got political — and raked in ticket sales — by pitting Rocky against Russian mega-athlete Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).

Drawn inevitably to boxing, he goes to Philadelphia and seeks out his father’s old rival, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), and asks the reluctant ex-fighter to become his trainer. So that was the initial thing that was really attractive to me about the process of working on the film,” Thompson said while alluding to how personal the project was for Coogler, who grew up watching the Rocky films with his father.

The boxing action took place between Rocky and his protégé, who is tricked into turning against him. “Rocky Balboa” (2006): To give fans a more satisfying coda to the franchise, there was poignancy and a return to the original’s realism in this supposedly final chapter. As a result, the director came with “Creed”‘s focus on Adonis and his internal struggle to follow in his father’s footsteps while carving out his own identity personally and in the world of boxing a “clever idea.” “I thought if you were going to reboot a franchise, I think you ought to have a really compelling reason for it and this was Ryan Coogler’s brainchild that came from a really personal place for him. Reviving the “Rocky” magic seems like a long shot, especially since the Oscar-winning original came out nearly 40 years ago and Stallone, an unknown when he wrote and starred in that first film, put his own coda on the series with 2006’s “Rocky Balboa.” But director Ryan Coogler, who teamed with Jordan on 2013’s “Fruitvale Station,” isn’t one to bet against. Rocky takes a supporting role in this millennial update that puts Adonis Johnson, Apollo’s son, in the spotlight as a driven young boxer who coaxes his dad’s old rival into coaching him to boxing glory. Coogler was able to convince Stallone to join a project that he’d been mulling since he was in film school at the University of Southern California — and that he first met with the megastar about before he’d even finished making his feature directing debut.

Go see it! #BePeace.” Creed is set for release on November 25th in the States and January 16th in the UK, with a cast that on top of Jordan includes Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad and Tony Bellew. So I just loved that about her,” she said. “And then the challenge of getting to play a musician and having to write the music for that, that was something that I was just so interested in and frankly kind of nervous about.” Recalling her reaction to getting the part, Thompson laughingly shared that she was “immediately kind of freaking out” about her preparation for playing Bianca, in light of her immediately starting work on music for her character with the composer the day after she accepted the role. “I love to do things that scare me, so it was a no-brainer for me doing the movie,” said the entertainer, who relished playing someone from the City of Brotherly Love. “I love the challenges.

And with the exception of the unfortunate “Rocky V” (Tommy Gunn is the Mister Freeze of “Rocky” villains), we had a fantastic run with one of the most memorable movie characters of our time. By putting Jordan together with Stallone, Coogler, who also cowrote the “Creed” script, has created a fresh chapter that both honors the gritty, yet sweet style of 1976’s “Rocky” and spins the brand forward for a new generation. The critics are judging it a technical and heartfelt knockout. “Ryan Coogler’s rousingly emotional new film is the best installment since the 1976 original,” said Entertainment Weekly. Flash forward a decade, and now the 25ish Adonis (Jordan) is working for a Los Angeles financial firm during the week and sneaking down to Tijuana to fight in brutal, black-market matches on the weekends. Even though Mary Anne has provided Adonis with a top education and he’s a rising star in the corporate world, Adonis is simmering with anger and resentment, and filled with the urge to fight.

There also is a lovely echo of Rocky’s tentative romance with shy pet store clerk Adrian in Adonis’s very contemporary relationship with Bianca (Tessa Thompson of “Selma” and “Dear White People”), his downstairs neighbor and an aspiring singer-songwriter. “It’s kind of interesting to see what it’s like dating when two people are so ambitious and have their own goals and dreams that they’re trying to achieve, and that ambition draws the two people together and how do you make that work,” says Jordan. “It is that give and take, how much you’re willing to sacrifice and how much you’re willing to work to make that relationship work out. So I’m hoping that that came across onscreen.” “He’s such a talented actor, but what I was so impressed with him is that how hard he worked, getting his physicality. Enter Rocky, and you want to cheer the first time Stallone as Balboa slowly out of the shadows at Adrian’s, still wearing that familiar hat, still carrying himself like a prizefighter with every step.

It doesn’t take long for Rocky to figure out who Adonis Johnson really is; it doesn’t take Adonis long to persuade Rocky to train him — at Mickey’s old gym, now refurbished but still an old-school joint where you can practically smell the sweat and the broken dreams before you open the door. Writer-director Coogler (who directed Jordan in the excellent “Fruitvale Station” in 2013) takes a chance in revisiting so many familiar and beloved touchstones from previous “Rocky” films, from the training sequences to another journey up the stone steps at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the introduction of yet another colorful, seemingly indestructible champion — this time one “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Anthony Bellew), an undefeated, undisputed light-heavyweight from Great Britain who is getting one last fight before he’s off to prison. It’s possibly the most visceral boxing sequence since Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull.” “I remember when I asked (Coogler) how did he see the fights going and he had this really ambitious idea to shoot one fight in one take, in one shot, and I was like,’Man, I’m down for that. We wanted to make sure it was as real as possible.” Jordan trained for roughly a year to get into the fighting shape he displays on the current cover of Men’s Fitness. And I wondered, in that moment, if in real life that was how you responded when you found out you got to play this role – because this is a huge role.

It’s definitely an eye-opening experience.” Jordan says he clicked with Stallone right away and admired the veteran actor’s willingness to take on what’s essentially a secondary role that reveals the aging, vulnerable side of Rocky. “Coming from a place of being so strong for such a long time, and then being able to see yourself play a character that’s weaker and more supportive is definitely a transition for him. But my mind was so focused on the project that was in front of us, “Fruitvale Station,” that I didn’t even have time to think about “Creed” until, you know, a year and a half later.

The young actor laughs at the suggestion that, if many “Creed” sequels follow, an Adonis statue could one day join Philly’s famous Rocky statue, which is featured in the movie. Although Jordan hit a professional speed bump this summer with the poorly received and internally troubled superhero ensemble “Fantastic Four,” his post-“Creed” projects sound worth anticipating. He also is set to star in “Just Mercy” as civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who launched the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to defending poor people and those wrongly charged or convicted. There’s something about that city that’s just an inspiration, the hope, a pride, a town that’s been so full of pride.” “I learned from Sly as well, it’s called show business.

Show and business,” he says. “That’s something you have to really pay attention to, because you can do a project for you and a project for different reasons that push your career forward. You know, I went to the real gyms, you know, sparred with real fighters, trained – worked out with their trainers six days a week, sometimes two to three times a day. I’m very, very hopeful that, you know, in success that, you know, and people will behind this character and this franchise, that it can be something that we could definitely see more of.

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