EXCLUSIVE Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” is on the outside track, making a quick secret run toward an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Sylvester Stallone, already tipped for a Golden Globe this Sunday, is looking at his own Oscar nomination and very probable win. Who wouldn’t want to hear that acceptance speech on Oscar night, after Stallone’s played Rocky Balboa for 40 years?
So last night, Stallone, Coogler and “Creed” (as well as actress Tessa Thompson) were feted at Patsy’s on West 56th St– the real Patsy’s, former home of Frank Sinatra and his buddy Jilly Rizzo, where the bolognese sauce melts in your mouth.
Producer Irwin Winkler– who’s been with Stallone the whole 40 years– was also toasted by the likes of Gayle King, Bob Balaban, Patricia Duff and journalist Richard Cohen, New York Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman, legendary former NBC News correspondent Richard Valeriani, director Malcolm Lee, actors Joey “Pants” Pantoliano and Rosie Perez, Rutanya Alda, “Wall Street” producer Ed Pressman, Oscar winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) and so on.
Missing only were “Creed” stars Michael B. Jordan and Phylicia Rashad, each working on the west coast.
Stallone was beaming. Dressed nattily in a blazer and tie, and looking fit, he held the room in the palm of his hand when he spoke about how Coogler convinced him to “raise Rocky from the dead.” You can see that Stallone is very enamored of his new director.
Now that “Creed” has crossed the $100 million line, it’s time to think about the sequel. Stallone thought after “Rocky Balboa” (2006), the franchise was dead. But now it’s back. He told me he could see a sequel that brings back Rocky’s son (played by Milo Ventimiglia in “Rocky Balboa”) as Coogler develops Adonis Creed’s next story.
Rocky’s cancer, of course, would be in remission.
“We just gotta sit down and map it out,” Stallone told me.
So what was the difference playing this Rocky than the last six? “As we live we acquire all kinds of experiences, some good, some bad. It builds up a reservoir of emotions. As we got older the opportunities diminish and we don’t get a chance to express ourselves. Well, he [Coogler] gave me a format where I could let out a lot of stuff that had been building up inside. It was very cathartic. Perhaps when I was younger, it was a different kind of exuberance. I think as you get older you get a resignation about how life works, and maybe a world weary intelligence.”
Did you know Sly Stallone was so articulate, so thoughtful? As Ryan Coogler said after first meeting him and expecting Rocky, “You know he has to be a good actor. He’s completely different from the character.”
Yup. “Creed,” Rocky, Stallone. It’s time, kids.
PS Stallone pointed out that Coogler, 29, wasn’t born the year after Sly made “Rocky IV” in 1985!