Michael B. Jordan on Why Training Montage Was Such a Challenge

Mar 2, 2023

On March 3, Michael B. Jordan returns as Adonis “Donnie” Creed in his directorial debut, Creed III. Jordan first took on the role of the legacy boxer, and mentee of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, in Ryan Coogler’s spinoff film, Creed, and has since gone on to star in the sequel. From stealing scenes opposite the late, great Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther to reuniting with Coogler in the ring for the Creed series, Jordan takes the helm as both star and director for the series’ threequel and proves to be “a breath of fresh air for the Rocky/Creed universe,” according to Collider’s Ross Bonaime.

Now reigning as the undisputed heavyweight champion, Donnie has retired to training future boxers at the Delphi Gym. He’s enjoying life as a husband to wife Bianca (Thompson) and a father to their daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent), in their sprawling L.A. home, when a friend of his past, Damian “Dame” Anderson (Majors) is released from prison. Having had his own future cut short too young, Dame comes looking to pick up his own dreams of glory, threatening everything Donnie has worked so hard to achieve. In addition to Jordan, Majors, and Thompson, Creed III features the talent of Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, and José Benavidez.

While promoting the film, Michael B. Jordan spoke with Collider’s Steve Weintraub about his directorial debut. During his interview, Jordan reveals which important Rocky/Creed staple gave him the most grief while filming, and how and why the movie changed during the editing process. Jordan also discusses future directing gigs and whether or not he’ll be doing the director/actor combo again. For all of this and more, you can check out the interview in the player above, or you can read the full conversation below.

COLLIDER: Sir, I’m going to start with a big congratulations. This is definitely the beginning of you directing more movies because you clearly know what you’re doing. Are you already thinking about what you want to do next? Is there another genre that you want to play in in terms of being behind the camera?

MICHAEL B. JORDAN: Yeah, a little bit. You know, I’m playing around with a couple of genres that I like that interest me. I’m not sure which way I want to go yet, but there’s a few.

Image via MGM

Are people already offering you gigs?

JORDAN: Phone’s ringed a couple of times, which is shocking, but also, you know, very humbling. I guess the work is speaking for itself, so that’s pretty cool.

It’s going to be interesting for you because you are going to be offered projects as an actor because people want you to be acting in their gigs, and then also they want you directing. This had to have been a very big challenge being in front of the camera doing boxing sequences. You bit off a lot. The next time that you direct, will you put yourself on camera in the movie?

JORDAN: I’m not sure about that. I think that’s part of the thought process is, figuring out what side of the line you wanna stand on, you know, and is the project worth doing both? Just knowing what it takes out of you… Like, this took a piece of me – in all the best ways, but just to be able to take it from pre-production to this day, to today, it’s a lot. And it’s relentless, and you have to obsess over it, and that’s all you can focus on. So that level of commitment only can come to a project that is worthy of that. So I’ve just got to figure that out.

So Creed and Rocky movies…the big things are the montage sequence and the third act fight, and how you want to shoot those. So, which one gave you more nightmares at night thinking about? Was it the training montage, or–

JORDAN: Montage. Because I put myself into a corner. The way we built Damian as a character, by the time we got to the montage… How we want people to feel going into that final fight is, Adonis has to feel like an underdog, you know? So the scale had to be almost [skewed] the other way a little bit where you had some doubt, and you wasn’t sure if our hero was gonna make it through. And that balance in a montage, and figuring out the right things to hit, and what Adonis needs to go through in this montage so he can become the best version of himself in this fight so he can be prepared to fight Damian was a challenge, for sure. And all the visuals and the flashy stuff, the stuff that looks cool or whatever, is great, but getting to the crux of what this montage really means was a challenge. And I think we worked it out.

Image via MGM

I’m fascinated by the editing process, and I’m curious, how did the film change in the editing room in ways that you were not expecting?

JORDAN: I had phenomenal editors, Tyler [Nelson] and [Jessica Baclesse]. They’re truly, truly helpful and detrimental – and Mike Stronger as well – in this editing process. And the reality of, you write one movie, you shoot one movie, and you edit one movie, I know what that means now. The movie is gonna tell you what it needs, and what it’s becoming. So certain scenes that I really, really wanted to make the film, in a real way, some of them aren’t in the movie, and they’re on the editing room floor because the movie told me that it needed to be something else.

So I think the editing process, for me, was a real masterclass at really listening to the film and listening to the characters. Regardless of what I set out to shoot in the beginning, it’s going to tell you what it needs to be and that’s what happened.

Creed III is in theaters March 3.

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