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Rocky star Stallone 'an old dog learning new tricks' in Creed

Published 12/01/2016

Sylvester Stallone with the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for Creed at the Golden Globe Awards (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Sylvester Stallone with the award for best performance by an actor in a supporting role for Creed at the Golden Globe Awards (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Sylvester Stallone has labelled himself "an old dog learning new tricks" as he returns to play Rocky Balboa in the new film Creed.

The actor, 69, has now played the boxer seven times since the original movie, Rocky, in 1976.

In the new movie by director Ryan Coogler, Rocky is tracked down by Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan), the son of his former rival Apollo Creed, and persuaded to re-enter the boxing world as the young athlete's trainer.

Speaking at the film's European premiere in London's Leicester Square, Stallone said: " This fella here, Ryan Coogler, he's a genius - he really is. Because he took something that lacked the element of surprise - people know Rocky, and so when you hear about it your eyes roll, you go: again?

"But that's the magic of what he pulled off. I'm just an old dog learning new tricks."

Stallone won his first Golden Globe Award at the weekend, picking up a gong for Best Supporting Actor.

After accepting the accolade and reeling off a list of acknowledgements, he concluded: "Last of all, I want to thank my imaginary friend Rocky Balboa for being the best friend I ever had."

Recalling the moment, he said: "That's why I was so shook up. I didn't expect to win. I didn't expect to be there.

"The last time I was there was maybe 1977. It was ten tables, it was indoors, it wasn't televised. So you'd understand it was surreal for me.

"Here was my wife, my kids, and Rocky. He's come through."

Stallone was joined on the red carpet by Jordan, Coogler and other stars of the film, Tessa Thompson and British professional boxer, Tony Bellew.

Coogler's plus-one to the premiere was his father, Ira Coogler.

The writer and director explained: "It was my relationship with my dad that motivated me to want to make (the movie), so it was always a father-son story for me... He's the biggest Rocky fan in the world, and he means a lot to me.

"He got really sick round about the time I finished film school. And going through that put me in a real emotional place, and I came up with this story as a way to vent."

Thompson, who plays Adonis's love interest Bianca, said: "We tried not to think too much about the legacy, because I think if we did, we'd all get in our heads and be worried that we couldn't satisfy it.

"I think for Rocky fans, there's certainly a lot there in that it feels like a classic Rocky film, and then I think it also brings in a new generation."

The film's producer, Irwin Winkler, who has been with the franchise since the first movie came out 40 years ago, said he had not expected another film after 2006's Rocky Balboa.

He said: "I didn't imagine that after Rocky Balboa, I thought we really waved goodbye to the past.

"Now we're really looking forward to the future, so it was really a big, big chance.

"I never thought about, when we made this movie 40 years ago, that we would be talking about Creed now, and also thinking about what the next Creed will be. So it's very exciting."

On the prospect of a sequel, Coogler said: "As I've had a chance to get more distance from the project, I've started to realise that there are more stories to be told in that world, so we'll see how it goes."

Stallone joked: "I hope so, I hope so... I don't know how long I'll be around."

:: Creed will be released in UK cinemas on Friday, January 15.

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