Exclusive: Ryan Coogler Clarifies Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Work Ethic’ Comments

Ryan Coogler
(Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Ryan Coogler’s remarks about Sylvester Stallone’s concerns about his and Michael B. Jordan’s work ethic were taken out of context, according to the “Creed” director.

“One thing he was concerned with was me and [star Michael B. Jordan’s] work ethic,” the Los Angeles Times reported Coogler as saying at the Cannes Film Festival Monday, May 11. “He would always say, ‘Do you know how much work this is gonna require?’ For us, it was, like, never letting him see us not working.”

The comments were met with backlash from fans who alleged Stallone had a bias against the filmmaker and actor.

Yet Coogler, who spoke about getting Stallone attached to the spin-off to the boxing franchise ahead of filming, made it clear that the 71-year-old “Rocky” icon was only concerned about his and Jordan’s youth and inexperience. Jordan was 27 when shooting began while Coogler was 28.

“[Stallone’s] concern was simply because we were both young, it was my second feature film, and Michael had never played a boxer before,” Coogler said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star Thursday, May 17. “Sly had, at that point, written, starred in, and directed several boxing films and knew it would be a massive undertaking for us. He was concerned – rightly so, because of our age and our relative level of inexperience – with whether we knew the insanely demanding nature of what we were about to embark on.

“We went on to have a wonderful working relationship that still lives on to this day,” Coogler added. “And Sly has continued to help cultivate young, talented creatives — he’s currently in Philly right now working with another amazingly talented young director, Stephen Caple Jr. on ‘Creed 2.'”

Since “Creed,” Coogler has gone on to direct the blockbuster smash “Black Panther” and is set to direct the HBO film “Wrong Answer,” based on the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Jordan, who is set to star in “Wrong Answer,” played in “Black Panther” and is gearing up for the debut of HBO’s adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451.”

“Creed 2,” which is starring Jordan with Coogler as executive producer, is currently filming.

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