The star makes his directorial debut for the boxing trilogy’s newest installment.
For Creed III co-stars Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors, the on-screen rivalry between their characters has a way of translating off-screen, too — in a good way.
“His drive to be the best, I have that drive to be the best,” Majors told The Hollywood Reporter about his and Jordan’s work ethic. “And contrary to popular belief, those things can run parallel. That’s how you get a movie like Creed III.”
On Monday evening, the cast and crew of Creed III gathered at the TCL Chinese Theater to celebrate the film’s premiere, which hits theaters on Friday.
From starring in the previous Creed films to now directing the third installment, Jordan’s journey with the franchise is a personal one. “This is a character I’ve played three times over the last nine years of my life — very transformative years, the last nine years of my career and personal life,” the actor said about the role of Adonis Creed. “So to be able to look at a dynasty, [as Adonis] is probably going through similar things, I could blur the lines. I think as an actor, you look for opportunities to bring a piece of yourself to your role, and work out some of your shit in the process. The fact I got a chance to do that makes the movie extremely personal, and I’m really proud of it.”
In Creed III, the story picks up for Adonis at a different stage in his life. Having retired from boxing as a world champion, Creed is focused on his family, as well as elevating the next generation of champion boxers. When Damian (Majors), a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, resurfaces after serving time in prison, the former friends face-off for the fight of their lives. Tessa Thompson also stars as Bianca, Adonis’ longtime girlfriend and now-wife, as the couple share a daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent).
“Mike? Directing? It’s wicked,” Majors praised his co-star. “And I’d do it again!”
“I love working with Mike,” added co-screenwriter Keenan Coogler about Jordan. “We always have the best shorthand when we work together because we’ve just been working together for a long time, but also we [both] have an athletic background. Obviously, [in] a setting like this, it just allows us to all kind of bring it up to work and we bring our lunch pails when we work together. So, I love him like a brother.”
Speaking of brothers, Coogler is real-life siblings with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, who previously directed the first Creed film and is credited with contributing to the story this time around.
“I love it,” Coogler said about collaborating with his brother Ryan. “We get to bring a lot to the story, and Majors was always serious about implicating ourselves in these characters. So what better way to do it than with my brother?”
“It was one of the best working experiences I’ve ever had,” said co-screenwriter Zach Baylin about working with Jordan and the Coogler brothers. “It was a really collaborative process with [Michael], me and Keenan and Ryan, all sort of sitting down at the beginning, and saying, ‘Where do you want to pick up with this character? What are the themes and ideas in your own life that you’re really looking to explore?’”
“He had really big ideas from the beginning about responsibility, about what it means to have achieved both the heights that that Adonis has, but that probably Michael has, as well, and how you want to give back and be part of the community after that,” the writer continued about the parallels between Creed and Jordan. Last year, Baylin wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning King Richard, which chronicled the real-life story of Richard Williams, the father of tennis champion sister duo Venus and Serena, played by Will Smith.
“I’ve been trying to ask myself that,” Baylin said about the sports connection between his two most recent films. “I’m a big sports fan, so I think part of it is that I like that arena. But I think what I really liked about both of these stories is that they were opportunities to tell family, dramatic stories about people in really critical times of their life, where they’re forced to make really hard, difficult decisions. I think it’s hard to find movies, especially studio movies now, that are going to be adult dramas. [In the] sports arena, it’s a really good opportunity to get to tell these kinds of [stories].”
Others stars in attendance included Dr. Dre, Yayha Abdul-Mateen, Serena Williams, Storm Reid, Vivica A. Fox, Big Sean and Xochitl Gomez.
Creed III premieres in theaters on March 3.