For the seventh time in his illustrious career, Sylvester Stallone portrays his most iconic role of boxing legend Rocky Balboa, in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Creed which explores a new chapter in the “Rocky” story, now focusing on Adonis, the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s late best friend.
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.
“He thinks that because Rocky was close to Apollo, he might be the only other person who could understand what he’s going through, and that because of his history with the father, he’ll be willing to train the son,” Jordan offers. “But that’s not the case.”
Rocky makes it clear he’s not interested in going back to that world, and, Jordan says, “that just because his father’s Apollo Creed doesn’t mean he’ll become a world champion. It takes a lot of hard work.”
But the wholly self-trained Adonis doesn’t shy away from hard work; he’s ready to knuckle down. That says a lot to someone like Rocky, who decides to take him on despite his misgivings.
Having created Rocky Balboa and played him in six prior incarnations, Stallone slipped easily back into the role, eager to explore the character in this phase of his life, when he’s presented with this unexpected opportunity. “Even though the character comes out of me, I wish I was able to be more like him,” Stallone laughs. “He’s the epitome of patience, there’s not a mean bone in his body and, though he’s very competitive, he fights for pride.”
“Sly knows Rocky better than anybody, and he knows more about the sport of boxing and how to make a movie about it than I ever could,” director Ryan Coogler says. “We’d be writing scenes and I’d call and ask him, ‘What would Rocky do here?’ If I had ideas, he’d be the first person I’d call. If he had an idea, he’d call me. He was so generous. It was a great collaboration.”
“Boxing, probably like most sports, is about 80 percent in your head,” Stallone surmises. “You can be defeated before you walk out of the dressing room. That’s why a good corner man has to be a psychoanalyst, right on the spot. He’s got to hold his guy together. It’s a pretty extraordinary occupation, and I thought it was a great place for Rocky to go—to take everything he’s known from all his years as a fighter and give it to this kid.”
Having been in and around the boxing arena—both fictional and real—for so long, Stallone has had ample opportunity to examine what makes a boxer tick. “Why fight when you don’t have to? What drives the fighter? It’s a very unique personality who wants to challenge himself in that way. Even Rocky, who is so gentle; when he’s in the ring there’s a primal thing that kicks in. It’s about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, testing yourself in this ultimate, mano a mano fashion that most people wouldn’t do.”
Stallone adds that, in addition to the emotions that come with the highs and lows of Rocky’s own life story, when confronted with Apollo’s son, “he’s suddenly faced with the grief of losing Apollo again, and feeling responsible for that death. He’s never really come to terms with it. Now he’s not only reminded, but he sees this kid, who looks so much like his friend, looking back at him, wanting to step into this dangerous arena and wanting Rocky to take him there. And Rocky doesn’t want to; he doesn’t want to feel responsible for Apollo’s kid getting hurt, too. But he knows if he doesn’t do it, someone else will, and Donnie may really get hurt. If Rocky does his best, maybe he can keep him safe, and make up for what happened all those years ago.”
Opening across the Philippines on December 9, 2015, Creed is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.