Ryan Coogler had some good advice for Steven Caple Jr. before he stepped up to direct Creed 2. Coogler and Caple Jr. are good friends, having attended University of Southern California's film school together, and Caple Jr. needed to know why the Black Panther director wasn't coming back for the sequel, which led to Coogler offering up some advice before getting in on the Rocky franchise. The second trailer for Creed II was released earlier this week, highlighting the emotional highs and lows of the sequel, which was no accident, according to Caple Jr.
After the success of Creed, Sylvester Stallone and the studio were excited to get working on the sequel as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Ryan Coogler was not able to return to the director's chair for Creed 2, although he wanted to. Coogler is still an executive producer on the project. Steven Caple Jr. asked Coogler why he wasn't doing the sequel and the Black Panther director explained and then gave him some good advice in return. Steven Caple Jr. had this to say.
"I went straight to (Ryan Coogler) and was like, Man, why aren't you doing it? You know what I mean, because you killed the first one. But he was caught up with Black Panther and they were looking for someone to carry the torch and able to put their own spin on it. Coogler was helpful and told me, Hey, do your thing. Add your own twists to it, but make sure you follow along the lines of the Rocky franchise."
Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon and so it makes sense that Ryan Coogler wasn't able to return for Creed 2, since the writing and pre-production were going on while the Marvel Cinematic Universe project was in the post-production phase. Steven Caple Jr. was really familiar with the Rocky franchise, admitting that he watched the movies while he was growing up. Caple Jr. says that the themes behind the films have gotten more powerful over time and includes Creed in that statement.
Part of the magic of the Rocky franchise is that there's emotional depth that goes on outside of the boxing ring, says Steven Caple Jr. When Creed hit theaters, the director was blown away by what he saw, so it was a little intimidating to step on to the set with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. In the end, Caple Jr. identifies with the characters, which helped make the decision to sign on to direct Creed 2. He explains.
"I can really connect with the level of maturity that Creed is going through, the sense of relationships and starting a family and trying to build your own name, your own legacy. Things like that really touch me as I'm in that same vein as I'm trying to do the same with my life and my career. There's the pure commercial hype of it, the feeling good feelings that you get when watching the boxing, but the other side is purely character, purely artistic."
Steven Caple Jr. officially came on board to direct Creed 2 back in December of 2017, and had to jump straight into the quick production process to meet the November 2018 deadline. Caple Jr. said that the quick pace made him feel comfortable since it felt like working on a television series or an independent film. Caple Jr. says, "choosing a project is about personal connections and feeling good about my environment," and it appears that he picked the perfect project for himself. You can read the rest of the interview with Steven Caple Jr. at Indie Wire.