‘Youth must be served’

Over four decades, Stal­lone’s in­sight into Rocky has grown


PHILADEL­PHIA – Stand­ing in­side a dark sound­stage on a break from shoot­ing a scene for Creed II, Sylvester Stal­lone is hang­ing back, let­ting star Michael B. Jor­dan get all the at­ten­tion.

They’re in the midst of shoot­ing a se­quence where Jor­dan’s Ado­nis Creed is mak­ing his way to the ring where he’s about to do bat­tle with Vik­tor Drago (Florian Mun­teanu), the son of Dolph Lund­gren’s Ivan Drago, the man who killed his fa­ther in Rocky IV. But the spot­light is shin­ing squarely on Jor­dan.

That this is both a sec­ond Creed and an eighth Rocky movie isn’t lost on Stal­lone, 72. He sees this new en­try as hand­ing a torch from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other.

“It’s a way to pass the man­tle — both be­hind the scenes and in front of the scenes,” he said. Q: How will Creed II be dif­fer­ent that the last one and the pre­vi­ous Rocky movies? A: I think the new in­stal­ment is re­ally fan­tas­tic and some­what Shake­spearean, with­out sound­ing pre­ten­tious. The an­cient his­tory of my­self and Drago we thought was dead and buried. But it’s been passed on to the sons and now, even though they don’t have any­thing against each other, they feel like they have to fight for re­venge —and it’s some­thing we re­ally study in this movie. Do you re­ally have to shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ry­ing the le­gacy of your fa­ther? Are you do­ing it to be bet­ter than your fa­ther? Are you do­ing it for pub­lic­ity? Are you do­ing it be­cause you feel the ne­ces­sity to vin­di­cate him and get re­venge? So it tack­les re­ally big, broad sub­jects. I think it’s fan­tas­tic. I think it’s go­ing to be as good as the last one or even bet­ter. Q: You were go­ing to di­rect this at one point. Why did you step away? A: I was go­ing to di­rect it, but I re­al­ized youth must be served. This kid (Steven Caple Jr.) has such great vi­sion and en­ergy. Mak­ing this kind of film is in­cred­i­bly tax­ing be­cause you’re do­ing (the di­rect­ing) and the drama. You’re do­ing two things. It’s at least six months shoot­ing, maybe a year of prep, so when it’s fin- ished, Steven will have been on this movie for two years straight. Q: You’ve been play­ing this char­ac­ter for 42 years. We can’t think of any other in­stance in Hol­ly­wood his­tory where that’s hap­pened. A: I need a lot of re­hearsal, what can I say? But I got it now (laughs). I think I’ve nailed it. Q: Has the char­ac­ter changed? A: The irony is, as my life evolves, I find new things in the Rocky char­ac­ter. In the last one, he faced death and his own mor­tal­ity. In this one, he’s fi­nally com­pletely alone. The only thing he has left is this young man. So he’s now part of the Creed uni­verse. The Rocky uni­verse is gone. It’s left in the grave­yard. Q: Is there a sense of nos­tal­gia? A: Yeah, there is. But it’s not go­ing to be a down end­ing, it’s go­ing to have an up end­ing. A very emo­tional end­ing. Q: Your col­leagues on the film say they come to you for archival re­search about great fights. Is that true? A: That’s right. I’ve just been do­ing it for so long and I con­tinue to do it. I think what makes th­ese fights so great is we take ex­cerpts from real fights and then in­ject them into this. We go, “Is that pos­si­ble?” And we say, “Yeah it is. It hap­pened in 1945, ’47.” I never thought we’d find a bet­ter boxer than Carl Weathers, who was un­be­liev­able, but wait un­til you see Michael in this. His shape is un­be­liev­able. Q: Talk a lit­tle about Florian Mun­teanu, who plays Ivan’s son, Vik­tor. A: Florian is un­be­liev­able. You’ve heard th­ese sto­ries, and most of them are B.S., where the peo­ple in­volved in the mak­ing of a movie say, “We looked at over 4,000 peo­ple for this role.” No they didn’t. They looked at maybe 40. But we looked at ev­ery large heavy­weight fighter in the world be­cause you couldn’t use an ac­tor. Michael’s an ac­tor, so we needed some­one in there who’s ex­pe­ri­enced. Dolph Lund­gren was a world cham­pion kick­boxer, so when you saw him move, it’s some­thing you can’t learn in a year. Florian was a real fighter. He had the moves, he had the looks and he had the size. He also had em­pa­thy. You look into his eyes and you like him, even though he’s play­ing a ter­ri­ble char­ac­ter. So there’s an am­bi­gu­ity in there. I can’t tell you how many men, they were in­cred­i­ble spec­i­mens, but the face wasn’t right and they didn’t have the look in their eyes. To get the whole pack­age? He’s one of a kind. Twitter: @markhdaniell [email protected]­media.com


Michael B. Jor­dan, left, and Sylvester Stal­lone in a scene from “Creed II.”

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