When it comes to Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky movies, they’ve always been a personal affair. Right from the beginning, Sly was crafting the story of cinema’s ultimate boxing saga, penning every film in the series, and directing three of the six flicks while also playing Rocky Balboa himself. Now, Michael B. Jordan is following in those footsteps for his third outing as Adonis “Donnie” Creed. The star is making his directorial debut with Creed III, following in Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr’s footsteps in calling the shots.
Taking on a major franchise sequel as a first-time director is daunting enough – let alone while also being its leading man. “I was pretty anxious going into it, wondering what that would be like,” Jordan tells Empire in the upcoming world-exclusive Indiana Jones 5 issue. “‘Who’s calling action and cut? Is that me?!’” But, the director-star took his cues from other filmmakers who have juggled jobs both in front of and behind the camera. “Talking with Denzel [Washington] and Bradley Cooper and others who have directed themselves, they told me you have to find your groove and your pace with your first AD and actors,” he explains. “But it’s also like having a superpower: within your performance, you can also direct. It saves some time in some areas, because you get a chance to self-correct in the moment. So that’s a liberating experience to have. It became fun after a while.”
If Jordan’s biggest challenge was stepping up as director, Creed’s this time is facing up to Jonathan Majors’ Damian – a childhood friend of Donnie’s, fresh out of an extended prison stay with a grudge on his mind. “I think he has an intensity and a realness of character we haven’t seen before,” Jordan teases of Damian. “He’s a grounded character who’s antagonistic by nature, but it comes from an honest place, real emotions. He’s not a moustache-twirling villain; I wanted people to understand him, and to make it hard for people. I think those make for the most complicated and interesting ones to watch.” Ding ding – Creed is more than ready for round three.
Read Empire’s full Creed III interview with Michael B. Jordan in the world-exclusive Indiana Jones 5 issue, on sale Thursday 24 November and available to pre-order online here. Creed III comes to UK cinemas from 3 March.