Creed was undeniably one of the best films of 2015. Writer and director Ryan Coogler, a long-time fan of the Rocky movie franchise, crafted an incredibly intimate and moving piece of work. Starring Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed’s son Adonis, Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed and, of course, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky – his first time reprising the iconic role since 2006’s Rocky Balboa – Creed was a box-office hit, and earned Stallone his first Golden Globe award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role. Read on for secrets behind the making of the critically-acclaimed film.
Ryan Coogler’s father loves the Rocky movie franchise. They watched the films together many times over the years, as Coogler’s father did with his own mother when she was fighting breast cancer. Coogler’s father later battled a serious illness as well, and the director thought that writing the Creed story would motivate his father to fight.
Getting the Go Ahead
Stallone, being a fierce protector of his Rocky franchise, was initially “dead set” against a revamp. He couldn’t imagine taking Apollo Creed’s character into this kind of realm. But Stallone’s agent thought otherwise, even calling the star a “chicken” – ironic for the man who played Rocky.
Prior to filming Creed, Sylvester Stallone told Michael B. Jordan to have fun and not to worry about living up to any expectations because the character of Adonis and the film as a whole would be entirely his own.
Going Into the Studio
Tessa Thompson spent a few weeks with composer and music producer Ludwig Göransson to craft Bianca’s sound, which Coogler wanted to be an experimental form of R&B. Thompson, who sang her own material, hit the studio with the composer the day after she was offered the role.
Coogler wanted to capture the feeling boxers experience in the ring for young Adonis Creed’s first professional match. He was completely on his own in the ring, yet he had a sense of support after having trained with Rocky Balboa. That’s why the scene was shot in one continuous take.
Getting the Sound Right
Coogler and his team took the time to research Philly’s unique atmosphere and sound. That resulted in having sounds like trains running in the background during certain scenes. Coogler wanted the film’s take on Philadelphia to be authentic.
Stallone posted this video of Jordan supposedly getting knocked out for real. But according to Stallone, Jordan got up and kept going, like a real champ!
In addition to the month he spent rehearsing and choreographing boxing matches, Jordan and the Creed crew also spent about a week blocking out the one-take fight scene with his would-be opponent, the camera operator and the stunt coordinator.
The one-take fight was shot a total of 13 times, but it was take 11 that made it in the film.
The Return of Rocky
On Stallone’s first day on the Creed set, there were nearly 300 people in the room, all of whom were chanting and screaming for his character as though he were a real-life champ. According to Coogler, it took them 10 minutes to calm down so he could begin filming.
Biking being rather popular in Philly, authentic riders were included in Creed’s training montage. Coogler and his crew found the bikers and ATV riders through casting and outreach.
Typically, a composer begins work on a film when a rough cut is produced, but Göransson started work on Creed at a much earlier process. Coogler sent him a first draft of the script, and be began composing music and collecting sounds then.