Michael B Jordan on Creed 2: ‘It was physically and mentally strenuous’
Michael B Jordan. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
The much-anticipated sequel to Creed will finally be in theatres on 30 November and we can hardly contain our excitement.
This is what lead actor (and hotty of note) Michael B Jordan had to say about his role as Adonis in the movie.
QUESTION: It’s been almost three years since Creed was released. Looking back on it now, why do you think it was embraced by audiences and critics?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: [Director] Ryan Coogler did an incredible job of building a new world inside the Rocky franchise that Sly created. Creed was a very personal story for Ryan because it reflected elements of his relationship with his father and his love for the Rocky films.
Audiences really responded to that authenticity and heart – and, of course, to seeing Sly back as Rocky Balboa, one of the cinema’s most beloved characters. The action was there, too. I’m really happy that people enjoyed it.
QUESTION: What did you spark to with this new story?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: We set up a strong foundation for the characters in Creed, and we wanted to see those characters continue to evolve. Adonis’s relationship with Bianca grows, as does his friendship with Rocky Balboa. There’s even an evolution with Adonis’s feelings about his late father, Apollo Creed. Adonis continues to learn things about himself and his father. So, the film is about more than just what goes on inside the ring. It’s about how life and boxing go hand in hand – that was something I really enjoyed.
QUESTION: You worked very closely with filmmaker Ryan Coogler on Creed and, before that, on Fruitvale Station. On this film, Steven Caple Jr. is the director. What was that transition like for you?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: It took me some time to wrap my head around the fact that Ryan would be unable to direct this due to his other commitments. But Ryan was cool with it and comfortable with Steven as the director of Creed II, so I became more comfortable with it. When I met Steven, I felt an immediate connection with him, and understood that he’s a super-talented filmmaker, and his previous film, The Land, really impressed me. Steven and I also quickly developed a creative shorthand, just like I had with Ryan. That’s always a good sign.
QUESTION: Creed II deals with the importance of family and about how we can never really escape our past. That theme ties into the character of Ivan Drago, whom we met in Rocky IV. Can you talk about that theme of legacy and family?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: I’d seen Rocky IV, but I made a point of re-watching it and studying the characters and the nuances of their relationships with one another – Apollo’s boxing match with Drago that killed Apollo, how it affected Rocky, and the epic match in Moscow. I was looking forward to paying homage to that legacy and moving it forward with the next generation. That was fun to play.
QUESTION: Ivan Drago’s son, Viktor, played by Florian Munteanu, is a key figure in that legacy. What were your initial impressions of Florian, who is a professional boxer?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: I remember when I first met Florian, I thought, damn, this guy is HUGE – and that I better put on a lot of muscle to match up with him. As I got to know Florian, I realized he’s a really sweet guy and very humble. He works hard and wants to do well. In fact, his work ethic is incredible.
You get to know someone really quickly when you’re facing him in the boxing ring – learning the choreography…the moves and punches. We both care a lot about our families, so we have that in common as well. We just clicked.
QUESTION: Florian said the boxing choreography wasn’t just physically challenging; it was mentally exhausting. Did you find that as well?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: No doubt. Everything was always moving at a fast pace on this production. It was physically and mentally strenuous. The mental fatigue is real, but you want to do well, and then there’s that start of production date that’s creeping up on you, a day at a time. So, you feel the pressure a little bit. Everything ultimately fell into place but being mentally strong when doing a movie like this is crucial.
QUESTION: What was it like filming under harsh conditions in a desert in the western United States?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: We filmed in a desert town in New Mexico for two days, but it was an intense two days. It was very hot and dusty, and in the middle of nowhere. Those filming days came near the end of production, so we were already extremely tired and antsy, and eager to push through to the finish line. You can’t take it easy when you’re coming up to the end; you’ve got to sprint straight through it.
QUESTION: Did you, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson all pick up where you left off on the production of Creed?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: We had stayed in touch in the years between the two films, but when we began work on this one, we were immediately reminded why we like each other so much. Working with Tessa and Sly is always a treat. They’re extremely talented, and it was great getting back on set with them and re-establishing our rhythms. Returning to work with people you know and respect is always a good time.
QUESTION: There’s a lot of emotion and drama in Creed II. Do you enjoy playing those scenes?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: Yes, very much. It feels like I’m growing up on-screen, just like Adonis is. There are several things Adonis is going through that I have gone through, as well, so to experience those emotions was a lot of fun to play. I run towards those opportunities to play emotionality – to be authentic with everything that’s happening in Adonis’s life.
QUESTION: What do you hope audiences experience with Creed II?
MICHAEL B JORDAN: I think audiences are going to enjoy watching these characters evolve. They’ll experience an authentic love story between millennials – how Adonis and Bianca are professionals who are very passionate about their work but learn to make compromises because they are in love and want to have a family. That’s both relatable and inspiring.
Audiences will also enjoy the action and see what can be accomplished with dedication, drive and sacrifice.