tessa-thompson

Tessa Thompson

*Unlike many boxers who step in the ring, Tessa Thompson’s alliance with Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan for the “Rocky” spin-off “Creed” proved to be a win-win for her.

Chatting with EURweb associate Chris Richburg, the “Selma” star expressed how the upcoming boxing film provided a prime opportunity to not only work with the “Fruitvale Station” duo but also leave a noticeable mark in the film with her character Bianca, the love interest of Jordan’s Adonis Johnson, the son of Rocky’s late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

“The first thing that attracted me to this project was Ryan Coogler. I was such a fan of ‘Fruitvale Station’ and his work in it and I thought that it was the product of an incredible collaboration between he and Michael B. Jordan. I was just enamored by both of their talents. So that was the initial thing that was really attractive to me about the process of working on the film,” Thompson said while alluding to how personal the project was for Coogler, who grew up watching the Rocky films with his father.

As a result, the director came with “Creed”‘s focus on Adonis and his internal struggle to follow in his father’s footsteps while carving out his own identity personally and in the world of boxing a “clever idea.”

“I thought if you were going to reboot a franchise, I think you ought to have a really compelling reason for it and this was Ryan Coogler’s brainchild that came from a really personal place for him. I felt it was such a clever idea and then when I read the script that he co-wrote with Aaron Covington I felt like it was executed so incredibly.”

creed - coogler thompson jordan

Ryan Coogler, Tessa Thompson & Michael B. Jordan

Despite her excitement in coming on board for “Creed,” Thompson confessed that diving further into her love of music with playing Bianca, a singer-songwriter, was something that initially made her nervous.

“In Bianca, there was a chance to show a girlfriend character in the context of a sports movie that was nuanced and layered and not just the object of the narrative, but the subject of the narrative and a really complicated one at that. So I just loved that about her,” she said. “And then the challenge of getting to play a musician and having to write the music for that, that was something that I was just so interested in and frankly kind of nervous about.”

Recalling her reaction to getting the part, Thompson laughingly shared that she was “immediately kind of freaking out” about her preparation for playing Bianca, in light of her immediately starting work on music for her character with the composer the day after she accepted the role.

“I love to do things that scare me, so it was a no-brainer for me doing the movie,” said the entertainer, who relished playing someone from the City of Brotherly Love. “I love the challenges. I had never stepped foot a day in my life in Philadelphia. So getting to play a Philly girl, I spent two months before we started shooting in Philly soaking up the city and recording people on my iPhone when they didn’t know it and figuring out how to walk and talk and dress and be a Philly girl and that was something that was endlessly fun and interesting to me.”

creed (press conference)

Describing Bianca, Thompson labeled her as “the perfect counterpart” to Adonis as his quest to make a name for himself and build his boxing legacy parallels her desire for a successful career in music.

“I think she’s strong-willed. She’s determined. I think she’s incredibly optimistic I mean in the face of the disability that she’s dealing with. She deals with it with grace and I think a sense of humor. She’s incredibly resilient. I think those are the things I kind of see in her,” Thompson said while breaking down the dynamic between Adonis and Bianca. “I think that initially, she’s somebody that has sort of made herself an island. She’s so dedicated to her work, but sometimes her work allows her to shut out the outside world and Adonis comes into her life and literally knocks down some of those doors because she’s someone that can be kind of guarded.”

Comparing Adonis and Bianca’s love story with the romantic beginnings of Rocky and his wife Adrian in 1976’s “Rocky,” Thompson believes similarities exists with the evolution of both relationships.

“And so in a similar way to Rocky I, with Adrian and Rocky kind of figuring it out and having to travel a little bit of a long road before they’re both kind of open to each other, I think you get to see that with Bianca and Adonis,” she said. “I felt like we really wanted to tell a story that millennials could really get behind and believe and the relationship kind of looked more like real life than some sort of Hollywood version of what a relationship looks like. So I’m hoping that that came across onscreen.”

Making Thompson’s job easier was Jordan, whom she gained more respect for as he fully went in physically with playing Adonis.

“He’s such a talented actor, but what I was so impressed with him is that how hard he worked, getting his physicality. He did all of his own stunts. No one else ever put those shorts on and got in the ring. And he was fighting against all of these real life celebrated boxers, like Andre Ward and Gabe Rosado and Tony Bellew,” Thompson said.

“I was just so impressed with his work ethic and even the things that he would do to make himself feel better physically were also torturous. Like, you know, ice packs. That’s just terrible and he did it with just a lot of grace and was so happy. So I just sort of fell in love with him as an actor with how hard he works and how generous he is with the people he’s with. I loved working with him.”

“Creed” from Warner Bros. hits theaters on Wednesday (Nov. 25).