Michael B. Jordan starred in "Creed" and Ryan Coogler directed it. Neither picked up a Golden Globes or Academy Awards nomination. Sylvester Stallone, earned a supporting-actor Globe trophy and is up for an Oscar in the same category, caught some flack from "Selma" director Ava DuVernay during the Globes event for initially forgetting to thank Jordan and Coogler during his remarks (a mistake he rectified during a commercial break that did not air).
Shortly after this morning's Oscars nominations announcement Twitter resurfaced the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag as critics blasted the lack of diversity among nominees.
We got a chance to interview Jordan and Coogler, along with "Creed" co-star Tessa Thompson earlier this year during their visit to Atlanta.
The two stars of the movie inspired by and continuing the narrative of the “Rocky” series stopped by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.
Their visit included a $5,000 donation from Warner Bros. to the organization and the unveiling of a mural designed by Shepard Fairey’s design outfit, Studio Number One, titled “I Fight for a Big Future.”
“It was definitely an honor to step into that world that everyone loves,” Jordan said. “There was a certain pressure and expectation to do a good job.”
Jordan played Adonis “Donny” Johnson, born out of wedlock to a woman who had an affair with boxer Apollo Creed, the father he never knew. Raised by Creed’s widow (Phylicia Rashad), Donny is living the corporate life, but the boxing gene he inherited spurs him to quit his job, right after getting a lucrative promotion, to jump into the ring.
Where to go to focus on boxing full time but Philadelphia, where Mr. Balboa himself is long done with fights and now runs a restaurant. After convincing Rocky to train him, Donny is soon matched with an international boxing bad boy looking for a paycheck as a prison sentence looms, while falling in love with a singer who is facing a very dire and unique medical condition.
Coogler’s script took creative, touching turns, working in vintage clips and a sample of the famous “Rocky” soundtrack at just the right moments.
“The most modern aspect is the love story,” Coogler said. “We were very interested in showing what a relationship looks like in 2015. Tessa’s character was very representative of what Philadelphia is.”
Thompson, who appeared in Atlanta-filmed “Selma,” talked about her character with respect.
“Bianca is a person who has a fierce sense of identity and self and is unapologetic,” she said. “The way that she does one thing is the way she does all things, with a sense of self-assuredness.”
No spoilers in case you haven't seen it - and if not, I hope you see it when it's released for home viewing - but her character faces a hurdle she doesn’t reveal at first.
“It’s the deck of cards she was handed. She’s had time to prepare,” Thompson said. “She’s going to do what she loves as long as she can.”