Nearly forty years ago Rocky Balboa became a household name. It was his heart and work ethic that made families root for this underdog of a boxer. Six movies later, Sylvester Stallone (who created and wrote all the films while playing the title character) gave his blessing to a young new filmmaker who penned a version pitting Apollo Creed’s son at the center of the story. Stallone still plays Rocky in the movie who becomes the mentor and manager to Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. Jordan talks to Risen about the fear of success and Stallone shares how both he and his famous fighter are aging.
Risen Magazine: Talk to us about the evolution as Rocky and how it parallels your own life?
Sylvester Stallone: It’s very biographical if you know what I mean. We are at the same age. What Rocky has afforded me—and maybe never will be done again—he’s aged as the character and it has been the same performer throughout. I literally have brought along what has happened in my private life and it’s showing. I think as with a lot of people when their mate passes on, what are they really living for? And quite often, if you’re lucky, you find some sense of accomplishment in helping others. That is why I quite often do charity work. You are responsible as an adult to leave as much behind that is useful for someone you love. Otherwise what are we doing here? You take all the pain, wisdom and knowledge and gift it.
RM: Why do you think millions of fans are so tied to the Rocky films?
SS: I think the best word would be inspired. There wasn’t a masterplan when I wrote them [the scripts]; I just did what worked for me. But Rocky makes people feel strong. It touches the core that says, “I’m scared, but if he can do it, I can.”
RM: You allowed a new filmmaker to write and direct Creed. What did Ryan Coogler bring to the movie?
SS: It started many, many years ago [for Ryan with the passion behind this story], but what he brought to it [the film] was absolute unwavering enthusiasm and commitment like I’ve never seen.
RM: The toughest opponent in the ring is yourself, and that translates over to life as well. Do you find that to be true and how do you work through it in your own life?
Michael B. Jordan: For sure. Sometimes you have got to stay out of your own way. A lot of peoples’ biggest thing it just allowing yourself to be great. Allowing yourself to follow things that you care about and that you are really passionate about. Also I think it is a fear of success in a way. I think sometimes people are scared to be successful. You know you are not giving it your all. I think that is something you gauge and it is something I have definitely suffered from, and probably still do at some degree of not turning it all on. I’m not speaking in terms of acting; I’m speaking in terms of life. You think, “I couldn’t have done this, but instead I did that, and I got by with this, so I’m cool.” I think that is human nature sometimes and overcoming that is a big deal.
RM: The film is full of choices and we always have choices in life. What’s a key choice that you made in your life that has allowed you to be sitting here today?
MBJ: Not going to college. I think that was the first big choice, especially telling my parents I’m not going to school. I was working for some years [prior to that decision] and I had some success, so it wasn’t too far-fetched for them. It was just a conversation of “know what you are doing” and they had faith and believed in me. But I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined all this – this is crazy.
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