Interview: The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher for Michael B. Jordan and ‘Creed III’

Written by Matt Rodriguez

Creed III puts everything on the line for Michael B. Jordan. The third film in the Creed franchise and the ninth overall in the Rocky franchise, Creed III marks the directorial debut for Michael B. Jordan. It’s also the first film in the franchise without Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and it all seemingly rests on Jordan’s broad and muscular shoulders. Michael B. Jordan joined myself and fellow journalists to introduce the first trailer and talk a little bit about Creed III and what audiences can expect.

The film isn’t due out until March 3, 2023 but the first look trailer has been released, hyping up a new bout between Creed and franchise newcomer Damien, played by Jonathan Majors. The first posters feature the two fighters in the same pose at opposite corners of the ring with the tagline “You Can’t Run From Your Past.” The debut trailer reveals that Damien and Adonis grew up together as friends but whereas Adonis would find his path leading him to become a boxing champion, Damien found himself locked away in prison. Now on the outside, he learns of Adonis living the dream he once had, and it’s his mission to do whatever it takes to get to the top.

For Jordan, the theme of the film is family. “Family is always the core,” he says. “Family and heart. You have to face your past and find out who you really are.”

“It’s sort of a homecoming as well. Remembering where you come from, I think is really important in this one as well. And sometimes settling debts. I think settling debts and being accountable for your actions is something that we wanted to look at as well. This movie has a lot of me in it and hopefully a lot of other people as well. I wanted to create a story where everybody felt like they could relate to something in this movie. And those are just a few of the things that we have going on.”

Both the Rocky and Creed films have always pitted a larger-than-life opponent against the titular character. This time around is Jonathan Majors as Damien, who already looks to be in just as great a shape, if not greater, than Michael B. Jordan. He wouldn’t call Damien a villain in the film, however, more like an antagonist. Their relationship is far more complicated than those simple terms. “The character Damian you’ll find out more about, but definitely a pivotal person and a pillar in Adonis’s life that comes back around and needs to kind of get addressed.” Jordan talked about how Majors showed up every day “ready to go to war” on set. “The world is finding out daily how incredible this man is in the work that he does, is finally getting the props that’s due. Very, very blessed and lucky to have him be a part of this story.”

He says the same about his co-star Tessa Thompson as well, who is reprising her role as Bianca Taylor once again. “She’s a rock. Trust is a huge thing, and having earned each other’s trust being in scenes together. And now having her trust me with a story was the biggest compliment that she’s given me thus far. The encouragement and confidence that I have with my cast helps me go out and do things that seem impossible or really, really tough to do. So knowing I got that support in front of the camera with these guys, knowing they’re giving me this space to do all the other things that a director has to do and still show up every day, giving 110%. You know these two guys are right there. I’m blessed.”

As for being both in the ring and in the director’s chair for the first time, Jordan explains that it was the perfect time for him. At 35 years old, the actor has grown up on set having spent 20 years in the industry. “I finally got to this place in my career where I wanted to tell a story and not just be in front of the camera, not just execute somebody else’s vision. And having a character that I’ve played twice before, it’s been seven, eight years living with this guy. So to be able to tell a story of where I believe Adonis is at, and also at 35 years old, I had a lot to say as a young man, as a young Black man, just my life experiences and how I could actually share that, share a piece of myself with the world – through these characters and through this story. So I just felt like it was the right time. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of incredible directors, and having a lot of guidance and mentors and people that I look up to and aspire to quietly watching and putting together these decks and folders and things that I want to try over quite some time now. So I was just kind of waiting for the right opportunity to step up and get behind the camera. And this was the one for me.

The workload required to direct and star in such a big blockbuster franchise such as Creed III is not lost on Jordan either. He calls himself a little sick and views it as low-key torture. Torture that is so much fun at the same time. It’s a challenge for him to accomplish everything and develop a story out of it all.

“Trying to stay in shape, give all the departments what they individually need to go do their job and have my process as Adonis as well. It’s really hard to put into words, man. Every day was a struggle, but honestly, it was the team of people that I had around me. You really gotta surround yourself with the right help so you can focus on the things you need to focus on. Doing two things at one time, three things at one time – it’s just a part of the job.

I used to see Ryan [Coogler], Steven Caple Jr. on these projects towards the end of production and going into post. And you would see ’em, they’d be a little run down, a little tired. I got a little more pep in my step, a little more energy, clearly, cause I don’t have nearly the workload that they did, and I would empathize with them. Like, “nah, it’s okay, man. I get it, I get it.” I did not get anything. I had no idea. It’s only now I can really look at them, you know, eye to eye and be like, “You know what? I get it. I understand.” And they’re like, “Yeah, you finally get it.” So it was an acknowledgment once you step behind the camera, the undertaking that that is, from the outside looking in it seems, tough. Yeah. But it’s extremely hard to do.”

As for what fans can expect from Creed III, “we wanted to make sure we fired off on all cylinders, you know, just being the third movie throughout the CREED franchise,” Jordan exclaims. “We wanted to make sure we grew up, and still double down on the things that people, you know, expect and love from this franchise, but also take them to new places as well.”

Creed III opens nationwide on March 3, 2023.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.