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‘Creed 2’ director worked with Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan to put his own mark on the franchise



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Sylvester Stallone, “Creed II” director Steven Caple Jr., and
Michael B. Jordan.


  • Steven Caple Jr. talked to Business Insider about how he got
    the job to direct “Creed II” (in theaters on Wednesday).
  • That included being vouched for by his friend, “Creed”
    director Ryan Coogler.
  • Caple also described the talk with Sylvester Stallone that
    convinced Caple he would be allowed to put his own mark on the


Steven Caple Jr. watched “Creed” a little differently than you
and I. Having studied at USC film school at the same time the
movie’s filmmaker Ryan Coogler did, Caple had a specific eye for
certain details his friend put in. 

“The opening of the movie, showing Creed as a kid meeting his
mom, that really reminded me of this short that he did called
‘Fig,’ I was like, ‘There’s his style,’” Caple told Business
Insider while sitting in a restaurant in New York City. “So
when I stepped into the franchise I wondered, how do I make it

Back in 2015, when “Creed” become a critical and box-office hit —
launching the “Rocky” franchise back into the public conscious,
and solidifying Coogler as Hollywood’s latest wunderkind — Caple
was just a indie filmmaker rising up the ranks with one solid
movie, Sundance entry “The Land,” under his belt.

But when Coogler announced that he was stepping aside from making
a “Creed” sequel to go do Marvel’s “Black Panther,” the
continuation of the story of Adonis Creed suddenly lost its

By that time, Caple was honing his craft. He’d sold a miniseries
on Emmett Till to HBO and was directing episodes of the Freeform
series, “Grown-ish.” And it was on the set of that show a year
ago he got the call: Sylvester Stallone wanted to meet about
doing “Creed II.”

Caple learned that Stallone had been sent a copy of “The Land,”
Caple’s debut feature about Cleveland stakeboarding teens with
dreams of going pro, and was impressed. Caple also heard Coogler
went out of his way to let Stallone, star Michael B. Jordan (who
is also an executive producer on the movie), and the studio
behind the movie (MGM), know that Caple was ready for the big

That part was a shock to Caple, since he had been hanging out
with Coogler just days before the call and his friend didn’t
mention he was in the running.

“Ryan was on the Disney lot editing ‘Black Panther’ and I came in
and looked at stuff, and we talked about sports and other things,
but no mention of ‘Creed,'” Caple said. “So after I got the call
about ‘Creed II,’ I called Ryan and was like, ‘You didn’t tell
me!’ And he said he knew they were looking at directors, but he
was excited for me.”

But Caple was extremely nervous that because of his inexperience,
he would be more susceptible to just going along with whatever
Stallone, who also co-wrote the script for the sequel along with
reprising his legendary role of Rocky Balboa, wanted to do.

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But Caple said those nerves quickly vanished when he got on the
phone for the first time with Stallone.

“I thought I was going to talk to Rocky or Sylvester
, but on the phone with me was a director and a
writer,” he said.

Stallone talked to Caple about the three-fight structure he came
up with for the sequel that didn’t just give a little homage to
“Rocky III,” but also touched on “Rocky IV,” since the main plot
point of “Creed II” would be Adonis Creed going up against the
son of Ivan Drago, the man responsible for his father’s death
when they fought in “Rocky IV.”

Caple loved what Stallone had come up with and instead of bracing
for the point in the conversation when the legend told the newbie
not to change a thing and just shoot what’s on the page, Caple
felt more like Stallone was pitching him to do the movie. That
was especially true when Stallone told Caple what was needed to
make the sequel as good as the first “Creed.”

“He said, ‘I can’t capture Adonis Creed’s voice,'” Caple recalled
Stallone telling him. “He said, ‘With Rocky, I write all the
dialogue, but you tell me where you want to go with the rest of
the story and I’ll do it.'”

Caple realized the trust Stallone put in Coogler to bring his
beloved “Rocky” franchise to today’s era of moviegoers in a
believable way was now being passing to him — if he wanted it.

Caple signed on.

Read more:

“Creed II” escapes the sequel slump with thrilling fight scenes
and a gripping performance by Michael B. Jordan

Caple said the script at first was just a straight revenge tale.
Drago and his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), wanted payback for
Ivan’s loss to Rocky in “Rocky IV,” and Adonis wanted to avenge
his father’s death.

It was Caple’s talks with Jordan that elevated the story with the
parts that Stallone couldn’t capture.

“When I listened to him I found parallels of Adonis and what he’s
going through in his own life,” Caple said. “Becoming the champ
of the film world. I felt that was something we could play with.”

Their talks led Jordan to open up about his own personal goals,
and about running on the heels of the great black actors before
him like Will Smith and Denzel Washington, while at the same time
wanting to make his own mark. Caple felt that’s also what Adonis
is facing with the legacy of his father hanging over him.

So that became a theme in the movie. As Caple put it, “rewriting
last names.”

Steven Caple Jr John Lamparski Getty
Steven Caple Jr. at the
“Creed II” premiere.


Now among the boxing matches and training montages that the
“Rocky” fans crave, Caple felt he was bringing something fresh to
the franchise that would give it some standalone qualities.

It also didn’t hurt that throughout filming he would get little
words of encouragement between takes from Stallone.

“We would be on set and Sly would say to me, ‘You have something
special,’ I mean, talk about a boost of confidence!” Caple said.

And now the critics are beginning to give Caple a greater feeling
that he pulled off a successful sequel, as the movie is sporting
a healthy 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But so far it’s been the feedback of one person that has made
Caple the happiest: Ryan Coogler.

“He had seen the movie while touring with ‘Black Panther’ and he
called me and said, ‘You did it,'” Caple said while getting
choked up.

Caple also made a point of doing some shots in “Creed II” that
mirrored similar ones his friend did in the first, like the
point-of-view, behind-the-back shots that follow the characters.

“I wanted him to know I admire him as a filmmaker,” Caple said.
“But him saying, ‘This is yours,’ that meant a lot.”

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