As Creed III hits cinemas tomorrow, star Jonathan Majors has opened up on his gruelling role in the latest instalment of the boxing franchise.
The powerful third movie in the Rocky spin-off series marks the directorial debut of star Michael B.Jordan and sees Majors star as Damien ‘Dame’ Anderson, a childhood friend of the eponymous boxer who has just been released from prison after 18 years.
But when he reconnects with his old friend, tensions rise as Damien becomes hellbent on proving that he deserves a shot as a boxing champion. With Jordan behind the camera, the intriguing premise is turned into the franchise’s most emotionally charged offering yet – anchored by a brooding and intense performance from Majors.
As he explains in our interview, which you can read in full below, he drew inspiration from his own childhood for the role, while physically pushing himself to the limits.
Hi Jonathan! Creed III is a boxing film, but deep down it really feels like a film about the nature of friendship.
Yeah, it’s about friendship in the ancient kind of way. That’s one thing that me and Mike said from the start. They’ve got to be friends, because friendship is a very different thing these days. Everyone’s like ‘oh brother’ and ‘what’s up bro’, but they sometimes don’t know what that means. It does feel like we may have started saying it, you know, to overcompensate the fact that we don’t know how to be friendly to each other.
And look, that’s kinda what Adonis faces in the film. He has the question of how to help Damien, but also do what’s right for him. That’s the conflict here, because Dame is torn and tormented too.
We see that Damien is newly released from prison in the start of the film. You’ve spoken before about turbulence in your own childhood and being arrested. Were you able to draw on that?
Absolutely. I mean there’s no substitute for experience and you know, I don’t wish some of those things on anybody, but I’m in an art form where I can take my experience of, you know, being arrested and suspended and show that. Dame’s experiences are a lot more extreme than mine, but I do know what it’s like to have a run in with the police and to be treated unfairly, you know? So yeah, there’s a real 1 to 1 comparison which I think helps in the portrayal of the character and keeps it real, it keeps it honest.
How did you come to be involved with the film? Did you know Michael B Jordan before?
It was quite unorthodox. You know, he was very forthcoming. He reached out to my representation and asked them if he could have my number. And we gave to him of course, because I’d only briefly shook hands with him at some event a year and a half before. We got the call and it was all love, he was very open and asked me to do it. Five minutes later we had it sorted.
And that was the tone throughout his direction. He was very much like ‘this is what I’m gonna do, what do you think?’ It’s probably the best way of working and it helped our friendship. We walk around the world in the same way, but he’s an actual movie star so there’s that!
I do think our friendship was also developed through the vulnerability of the work. He’s said before it’s a very personal story for him and it was for me too. I think that yields a very honest and truthful relationship.
The fight scenes and training montages are particularly powerful and very typical of the Rocky mantle. What was it like filming them?
Man, it was so intense. You know, the amount of focus and training and emotional expense throughout. You’ve seen those training montages right? Those are real. The thing they don’t tell you is you never just do it once, because they need to shoot from different angles. The level of grit, that was a real bonding moment! It took five crew members to get it out there, but I had to flip it by myself. Primarily because they tried to give me a fake tyre and I just said ‘fuck that, bring me the real tyre’. I had not been training for a year to get here and fake it, you know? I mean, that’s just my mentality. I remember we had to flip it three times and then Mike came out and said ‘I need you to flip it one more time’.
I’m down in the sand and he comes into my ear asking me to do it one more time! He told me at the start it would only be one time. The physicality was gone, it was just spirit, grit and ultimately friendship. Now I’m flipping the tyre for the movie my buddy is directing, and he needs the shot! That was a beautiful moment and then we had to go and shoot something downtown that night. I fell asleep in the car.
Do you take that commitment and intensity into all your roles?
Yeah, you have to! I’m still trying to have an experience, I’m a hunter and always hunting for that next thing. Even in this interview, I’m looking for it. That intensity is imperative because it means things and hard and you want that level of difficulty because selfishly I want to keep acting and I know if I get bored with something, I’ll just walk off. I’ll work at Autozone, which is a car shop in the States. I don’t give a fuck! It’s gotta give me back something and the character has to grow my mind, my body and my spirit. This is the case in my last few pictures, it’s imperative. It has to move me.
That’s a similar arc to Damian in the film, you’re always pushing forward?
Yeah, this might feel like the apex for me so far, it’s going in the right direction but the work is never done. I feel that even more now, all I’m thinking about is the next project. I’ve done this one and I’ve now got a script in my bag. Maybe that’s youth and maybe it’s knowledge, but I know I need to just work and cook the next one.