Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler teams up again with actor Michael B. Jordan for Creed, the latest installment of the Rocky franchise. He spoke with ESSENCE about collaborating with Jordan, being a man of color writing and producing in Hollywood, and how the the Rocky franchise inspired him to become a filmmaker.
What are your personal memories of the Rocky movies?
My dad and I would watch them when I was a kid. It became a bonding experience we shared before participating in sporting events. My dad and grandmother watched Rocky III numerous times throughout the course of her life so the tradition was passed down from generation to generation. It was then I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker. After my father became sick I was in the process of writing the script for Creed and was able to pitch the idea to Sylvester Stallone before the release of Fruitvale Station.
Michael B. Jordan starred in Fruitvale Station and now plays Adonis Creed’s son, Adonis Johnson. What was it like collaborating with him again?
It was like going to work with a great friend and teammate. Lots of filmmakers find themselves going back to a familiar formula and I wanted to continue that success with Jordan.
Creed is a departure from Fruitvale Station. What are the similarities?
Both are domestic dramas that center around young men and their relationships. They both speak to issues affecting many men of color and I hope Creed can speak to a wider audience of people as well.
How does it feel to be a man of color writing and producing in Hollywood?
Intense and tons of hard work! It is motivating when you are given the opportunity to tell a story that members of your community can vibe with. Also being surrounded by people of color on the set is comforting and, since this is my second film, the support is needed even more. At the moment there are three films by three men of color that have or will arrive in Hollywood: Barbershop 3, Fantastic Four and Creed.
Creed opens in theaters on Thanksgiving Day.