Call it anything, but do not call Creed Rocky VII. Explaining why he agreed to come out of Rocky retirement for Ryan Coogler's movie in which the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed persuades Rocky to train him, Stallone said it was Ryan Coogler's vision. The occasion was a celebratory dinner at Patsy's, the legendary Italian restaurant in midtown and producer Irwin Winkler and co-star Tessa Thompson were there to talk about this movie. What you can say is, this role for Stallone in Creed is paying back big time as the actor makes his way through the award season having garnered several nominations for Best Supporting Actor, including the Golden Globes this coming weekend.
Supplying a bit of history, the young filmmaker came to him early on with the idea for Creed, and Stallone put him off. Stallone quipped that he wasn't even born until Rocky IV. Then Coogler made Fruitvale Station, a game changer, starring the actor Michael B. Jordan. The film, based on a true story about a young black man, Oscar Grant, who died at the hands of the L.A. police, sits at the heart of the zeitgeist. Said Coogler, the black man is the personification of our country's "worst sin." For his part, Ryan Coogler said he wanted to pitch Stallone, and thought, no matter what happens, he could get the actor to sign a DVD of Rocky II for his father, which he bought at Best Buy on the way to their meeting.
Even if you know nothing about boxing, as many at the dinner professed, the core of Rocky was his love story with Adrian. Not so for Rosie Perez! Who knew she was such a boxing fan? She commended Coogler on his attention to detail. A real boxing fan is not just interested in what goes on inside the ring, she told the rapt crowd. The life story, and so much else is important to a fan. She loved how Creed was layered.
Stallone said they may even write yet another, bringing back the story line of Rocky's son from Rocky Balboa. It's the perfect way to tell the story with Stallone on the traditional arc, and Coogler covering the new, what's compelling for young people today. As everyone took just one more bite of a home made cannoli, Sal Scognamillo bid the party goodnight showing off Patsy's new cookbook. Look, he said, pointing out the foreword by Ben Stiller and an endorsement from George Clooney, stating he could honestly say he's been coming to Patsy's since before he was born as his mom was photographed at Patsy's when she was pregnant with him, and he's been coming ever since. It's a bit of old New York, just like the food is a reminder of family, and Sylvester Stallone in Creed keeps the iconic Rocky alive.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.