Film-maker Ryan Coogler’s fistic tale in­spired by a fa­ther’s love

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES -

SANDY COHEN

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.

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