Michael B. Jordan has done sports on screen before. He spent two seasons on “Friday Night Lights,” where he had a double though still did some of his own stunts and took some real hits. But that’s nothing compared to “Creed,” a spin-off and continuation of the “Rocky” saga, focused on Jordan’s Adonis, the illegitimate secret son of deceased fighter Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
Adonis may team up with Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky for a big fight, but Jordan — reuniting with his “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler — didn't want to just do another "Rocky." They wanted to make their own distinctive movie, that built off the legacy of a beloved franchise while building a future for its own, new hero. Not only that, they wanted a studio film that feels as raw and interested in people as the movie that broke them through into the mainstream.
Rocky is a little popular in Philadelphia.
He’s huge. When you’re doing exterior scenes with [Stallone], there are hundreds of fans lined up on the side. After you yell cut they’re like, “Rocky! Sly!” It’s like, “Damn, the whole city is out here. It’s consistent. They followed us around.
Like the first two Rockys, “Creed” shows parts of the city that tend to be ignored, and not only in movies shot here.
Ryan really explored different parts of Philly. It’s similar to “Friday Night Lights.” When you go from Dillon to East Dillon, you went five minutes across railroad tracks, but you got a completely different perspective and different stories.
Despite continuing an iconic film series, this still looks and feels a lot like “Fruitvale Station.” Ryan doesn’t completely overhaul his style.
Ryan has a unique take on people. He likes to see what they do when they’re alone, when they’re by themselves, when they’re thinking. He lets scenes breathe. That’s not seen too often in cinema, that directors let characters have little moments. It doesn’t have to be dialogue-filled all the time. Something doesn’t always have to be happening. Sometimes two people sitting there in their own space is more interesting than watching people talking the entire time.
Then there’s the boxing. You did that yourself, and there’s even one fight done in a single take. A lot of times long takes are about admiring the technique, but here it’s about admiring the actors.
That one could have failed in a heartbeat. There were a few times when we thought, “Are we going to have to cut this up?” But I love one takes. It’s a connection you make with the audience. When you cut it’s a blink. They stop. They say, “I’m out of it.” Sometimes you can keep people locked in on a situation. You get so much more emotion out of people.
How many takes did that take to get it right?
We got it on the fourth or fifth. They only gave us eight takes, timing-wise. In your head you think, “That’s one, I f—ed up. Godd—, that’s two. Then three. Almost got it. Fourth, kind of got it.” We’d look at playbacks and see which punches were hits and misses. It was a process.