Film-maker Ryan Coogler’s fistic tale inspired by a father’s love
LOS ANGELES: Fruitvale Station writer- director Ryan Coogler is sending a love letter to his father in the form of the latest Rocky film.
Creed was inspired by his dad, who showed him the Rocky movies repeatedly when he was a child.
And as Coogler told a story about a father-son relationship between Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, of course) and Adonis Creed ( Fruitvale star Michael B Jordan), the young film-maker and his cast found themselves being coached off-screen by Stallone himself.
“There was a lot of art imitating life,” said Coogler, 29. “The way Rocky has this advice for Adonis, (Stallone) would kind of treat (us) the same way.”
Creed tells the story of Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Rocky’s opponent- turned- friend Apollo Creed. Adonis never met his father, who later died in the ring but he wants to be a professional fighter, so he goes to Philadelphia to seek Rocky’s help. Though initially reluctant, the old champ agrees to coach the young boxer, and they form a bond that grows in tandem with the stakes they face.
When Coogler first pitched the idea of another Rocky film to stallone, the Hollywood veteran wasn’t too gung-ho. The young film-maker was just out of graduate school, and Stallone had hung up Rocky’s gloves years earlier in 2006’s Rocky Balboa.
“He was kind and he listened really intently, but I think he was kind of apprehensive,” Coogler said. “I don’t think he was so into it.”
This was before Coogler’s first feature, Fruitvale Station, won honours at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and heralded him and Jordan as talents to watch.
The role of Adonis Creed would require an actor as dedicated to his training as Rocky was for his first big fight. On this, Stallone and Coogler agreed.
What ultimately convinced Rocky’s creator was meeting Jordan. “He’s a fantastic actor,” Stal- lone said of his 28-year-old co-star. “He’s so dedicated.”
Jordan spent a year physically preparing for the role. When he met Stallone, he “was like an uncle,” Jordan said, “somebody I could sit down and talk shop with.”
If Stallone recognised the young men’s work ethic, Coogler and Jordan were awed by his. They saw what Coogler described as “a 68year- old dude with nothing to prove” who filled the margins of his script with handwritten notes and reflected on his scenes hours after they’d wrapped.
Such dedication inspired the younger men to work harder.
“I don’t ever want to be in a position where I can’t answer his questions, so I’ve got to do the work myself,” said Coogler, who was inspired by Stallone’s commitment to the craft. Coogler directs the Oscar-nominated actor to one of the most affecting performances of his career.
Coogler’s father, meanwhile, has been posting endlessly about his son’s latest film on Facebook.
“He’s making ‘Creed’ T-shirts. He’s like nuts, man,” Coogler said
Coogler expected to tell a story about his relationship with his dad through Rocky and Adonis, but he got to experience that dynamic with Stallone as well.
“What I was interested in with this movie was these two guys in this accelerated father-son relationship,” Coogler said. “And that’s what I see when looking at the movie: just fathers and sons.”– ANA-AP
RINGCRAFT: Director Ryan Coogler and Michael B Jordan.