Ryan Coogler was well-received at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, and later with the wide release of one of my favorite films in recent memory - Fruitvale Station. It's safe to say that following a film that impactful is difficult, but when I heard that Michael B. Jordan and Coogler were teaming up again for the Rocky spin-off, Creed, they were going to do something special.
It was just as amazing as you would expect from a baton-passing of this magnitude, from Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone) to Apollo Creed's son (Michael B. Jordan), Adonis Johnson-Creed. I was able to sit down with Coogler to discuss how he attacked this project and delivered a knockout in the process.
Moviepilot: How did you go about creating a very authentic feel, with the film set in Philadelphia and the culture that comes with that?
Ryan Coogler: It was basically research and spending time out here. Trying to get as familiar with the culture as possible. At the early stages of writing the script, I would share the script with people who had spent a lot of time out here... to authenticate it. In the pre-production process, I was living out here.
MP: How did you balance putting a new twist on the Rocky franchise while simultaneously paying homage to the older films?
RC: It was a constant balance in that. I was constantly working the script. You know, I was born right around the time Rocky IV came out. So a lot of this happened before I was born, I wasn't really familiar with it... we tried to give it a vibe for people who are coming of age today. Having Sly (Stallone) as not only an actor but a producer... we kinda got vibes from both, it happened natural.
RC: And the movie pretty much deals with one generation handing the world off to another. Do you let that generation fend for itself, or do you engage with it? Do you open yourself up to that relationship? And I think that was happening on set too. You had us, the young late 20s early 30 year olds running around, you had Sly you had the Old Guard we were all collaborating on the art.
Ryan's thoughtful approach to filmmaking shined through when I spoke with him, and it showed up on screen as well.
I urge you to go check out Creed. It's a little bit different than Rocky, but it's also more of the same great elements. Well worth the watch for anyone dealing with figuring out your identity... or carving your path. And I think that's pretty much most of us.
'Creed' hits theaters Wednesday, November 25.