Tessa Thompson enjoys getting back in the ring with fellow actors and filmmakers she’s previously worked with. And for good reason, it’s a chance to push each other and see how you have grown as an artist. This of course applies to Creed II, her follow-up to the Rocky reboot that gives her the chance to work with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone in new ways, but it also applies to simply reteaming with Thor: Ragnarok co-star Chris Hemsworth for next year’s Men in Black spinoff. She told us as much while considering the prospect of switching in sword and sorcery for black ties and nerualyzers.
“For me, it’s so cool,” Thompson says of acting against Hemsworth again. “Chris and I talked about this a lot when we were making Men in Black. It’s like there are so many greats before us, and not to compare us to them at all, but you see like Hepburn and Tracy, who get to play together in all sorts of space, and you see them over a career make these movies together, that’s so neat, and it’s really incredible to get to have that rapport but also to continue to challenge each other… I think we’re always hopefully trying to break new ground and the benefit of working with someone time and time again is you get to look at them and you know when they’re not breaking new ground. You’re like, ‘I’ve seen that before. Surprise me, do something new, do something more interesting than what you did the first time around.’”
For Thompson this also applies to Creed II, which reunites her with Jordan and Stallone, except now with Sylvester returning to his duties as screenwriter. Despite writing the original five Rocky movies, the man who would be Balboa passed scriptwriting duties to Ryan Coogler and Aaron Corvington on Creed. Now Sly is back with the pen, which in turn gives new creative opportunities to work alongside Thompson.
“Sly obviously super knows this universe because he created it, but it’s also Creed II, you know?” Thompson says. “So there’s a lot of things in terms of these characters that Mike [Jordan] and I created, I mean there’s tons in the first movie that is improvisation or there’s tons in that script that is a result of improvisation that happened during rehearsal, and we worked the same way this time around too, so there are things that literally come out of Bianca’s mouth that are the result of conversations that I had with Mike or with [director Steven Caple Jr.]. And yeah, Sly puts it in the script and we all make it work.”
One of the things Thompson was most excited to work into this script though was partnering again with Phylicia Rashad, who plays Adonis Creed’s mother and whom she had no scenes with in the original Creed.
Says Thompson, “We had conversations about that. It’s a beautiful thing because hopefully with any screenwriter, you’re just trying to write a human, right? You’re not trying to write specifically a woman, but there are certain things that I think a guy will just miss. And so we had conversations about like, ‘Oh, how do we make this more right for us?’ And then also just to share space with her, I literally would not be here if it weren’t for Phylicia Rashad. The way in which she has paved the way for women is tremendous, so to get to share screen time with her, to get to share space in the hair and makeup trailer… it’s a gift.”
The gift begins giving on screen on Wednesday, Nov. 21.