It has been 42 years since Sylvester Stallone introduced the world to iconic fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, but the “Rocky” franchise is somehow still fighting. On Thanksgiving, the eighth film in the Rocky franchise will be released in the form of a sequel to 2015’s hit “Creed.”
“Creed” followed the rise of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of Rocky’s nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed, as he took on Ricky Conlan (Anthony Bellew) and established himself in the world of professional boxing. In the film’s sequel, “Creed II,” Adonis fights for the Light Heavyweight Championship against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the man who killed Adonis’s father in the ring 30 years earlier. With help from his mentor Rocky (Stallone) and support from his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson), Adonis must balance family drama with boxing and take on his toughest opponent yet.
The Wheel participated in a roundtable interview with the film’s director, Steven Caple Jr., as well as actors Jordan and Munteanu, to talk about shooting the film, their personal experiences while filming and the future of the “Rocky” saga.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Mikael, The SCAD Connector: Steven, what was the process of distinguishing “Creed II” from Ryan Coogler’s predecessor, “Creed”?
Steven Caple Jr. (SCJ): I already have my own style and my own tone when I approach things. One, I feel like I’m great at ensemble pieces, telling a story with multiple characters while still having some stick out from the rest. Themes are very strong [in my films], I think that’s what makes all the “Rocky” and “Creed” [films] relatable, their family and relationships. To get technical, a lot of it is in coloring. There’s a lot of warmth when you’re in [Adonis’s] world. I also play a lot with sound to get into [Adonis’s] head. This stuck out from the rest of the “Rocky” [films] and “Creed.”
Justice, AUC CAM: Steven, getting picked to be the director for “Creed II,” what was the one thing that you kept in mind each day?
SCJ: It still is a bit of Ryan [Coogler’s] baby, but, most importantly, Michael [B. Jordan’s, too]. As people of color, we wanted to change the narrative a bit. I feel like this is a positive sign of who we are. You talk about black love and stuff like that, and these are conversations that we had every day either with [Jordan] or Tessa. Another thing is not getting caught up in the hype. As a director, when you step on set, you have [to focus] on why you are here and what you are trying to capture in this moment. Everything else kind of falls into place.
Trishunda Mooney, The Clark Atlanta University Panther: Florian, you shared a quote on thegreatestphysiques.com that said “In the end, everything will be fine. If it’s not fine, then it’s not the end.” Can you reflect on that quote anytime during the production or pre-production of “Creed II”?
Florian Munteanu: In life, things that happen don’t always happen like you want them to happen so you may lose motivation or inspiration. I used that quote in a time when I thought that I had to change my career and I was dealing with problems with my parents. I used this quote to get myself back on track. Once I really did that and did it from my heart, things started to get in the right place again. Then “Creed II” came up and I grew a lot on this project. Dealing with the script, people around me who were also hard workers and super talented. I always say to surround yourself with people who make you better, and that happened with the film.
Jesse Weiner, The Emory Wheel: This franchise means a lot to the city of Philadelphia, my hometown. Can you tell me about your experiences filming in Philly?
Michael B. Jordan: This was my second time filming in Philly, and it was awesome. I’m from North New Jersey and my sister graduated from Temple [University] so I spent a lot of time growing up in Philly as a kid. It was a familiar place. Rocky is a legend there; it’s his city in a sense, with the statue at the museum and everything. It was a great experience. The city is dope. They showed a lot of hospitality.
JW: Favorite cheesesteak place?
MBJ: Gennaro’s. I’m not a Geno’s or Pat’s fan. Those are the commercial ones, the tourist spots. I go to the hole-in-the-wall, Gennaro’s, that’s the one.
Savannah, All Urban Central: Steven, do you think this is the end of the “Rocky” saga?
SCJ: That’s a [Sylvester Stallone] question. These guys motivated him to get on to “Creed” because he thought [2006’s “Rocky Balboa”] was it. [“Creed”] reignited his love for the franchise. With this project, we wanted to pay homage to Philly and “Rocky” but start to create the “Creed” path. Ultimately, if there’s a demand for a “Creed 3” and it still feels natural, I think the franchise will live on.
Jordan, Officially Live: Florian, this is your first major motion picture. Did you have any reservations for taking on the role?
FM: If you get a big chance like [“Creed II”], there’s pressure on your shoulders, and Steven and Mike and Sly gave me this chance so there was a pressure to not let them down. That was my only little concern. If I know something about me, it’s that I work only under pressure. My biggest and best performances are always under pressure. That’s why I’m pretty confident about myself. Even when Steven told me to have a lot of emotion, I knew that I could do it. I only need the right people around me. We were like a family, and for me as a new guy, it helped me a lot.