On Tuesday, December 18, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a Q&A with Creed II actor Dolph Lundgren and director Steven Caple Jr., moderated by NYFA screenwriting instructor and dedicated Rocky fan, Eric Conner.
Lundgren is best known for his role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, which he reprised in the 2018 hit film Creed II. He also starred in Marvel’s The Punisher (1989) and The Expendables (2010), among many other films throughout the last three decades.
Caple Jr. was given the chance to direct Creed II, the latest entry of the extremely popular and successful Rocky film franchise, after directing just a handful of short films, some television episodes, and one independent feature. He follows Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the first Creed film, starring Michael B. Jordan as the title boxer who trains under Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky.
Conner opened up the Q&A by asking Lundgren about reprising the role of Ivan Drago 30 years after originally playing him in Rocky IV. “I wasn’t too crazy about it originally when I heard,” said Lundgren. “I was afraid it was going to be just a one-dimensional bad guy… but it was when I met Steven and I read the script that I realized, ‘Oh this is a real movie.’”
Conner agreed and brought up a scene from Creed II in which Drago and Rocky, longtime boxing rivals, are sitting at a table across from each other in a restaurant, just talking. “I really wanted to know who Drago was, you know, besides a ‘killing machine,’” said Caple Jr., “and it felt like a perfect opportunity to blend in that sort of, you know, two legends sitting down hashing [it] out after 30 years, yet also giving [Lundgren’s] character some dimension… so it’s more than just a revenge story.”
“Man, I was afraid to take on this project because I am a fan, you know; it was like who wants to make a sequel to something that was already dope?” joked Caple Jr. He added, “I made it for people who are honestly Rocky and Creed fans.”
Conner added that Caple Jr. was a good choice to direct Creed II because he could make the Rocky franchise relevant to a new generation of viewers by connecting with Creed, the younger character of the film. Conner also shared the statistic that Creed II was the fourth movie directed by an African American director to earn over $100 million in the box office in 2018.
“There’s so much talent out there,” said Caple Jr. He shared that it was important for him to have a production team that included people of color because he wanted to provide as many opportunities as possible to progress and diversify the entertainment industry. “There’s a movement going on.” said Caple Jr.
The New York FIlm Academy would like to thank Dolph Lundgren and Stephen Caple Jr. for speaking with our students and sharing their entertainment industry knowledge and their experiences developing a story and franchise simultaneously.