Creed 3: Inside the Fight Scenes of Michael B Jordan and Jonathan Majors

IIt is often said that fight scenes in movies are closer to dances than to actual combat. It’s a sentiment Clayton Barber certainly endorses. “It’s really violent ballet,” says the American. The Independentwhile reflecting on his 30-year career in film and television—a career he’d worked as a choreographer, stuntman, and actor.

In recent years, two of his most notable choreography credits appeared in 2015 rocky spin off creedand the latest installment in the series creed 3. Upon its release this month, the third installment of the episodic trilogy secured the most successful opening weekend in history rocky franchise, and has grossed $182 million worldwide at the time of writing.

movie, like creed and 2018 creed 2, stars Michael B Jordan as Adonis Creed, and also marks the 36-year-old’s directorial debut. Actor Jonathan Majors is the actor opposite Jordan, who – at 33 – is best known this year for his portrayal of Marvel villain Kang in Ant-Man 3.

Talk to the barber The Independent about what it was like working with Jordans and Majors, and what it took for a “violent ballet” to find its rhythm.

I have practiced martial arts since childhood. When it came to boxing choreography, were your existing skills sufficient, or did you seek the help of professional boxers to guide along the way?

I think my martial arts expertise has always helped me in Hollywood because when it comes to fight choreography, no matter if you’re using your fists, your feet, or a weapon, it’s the same story: violent ballet. Boxing is by far the hardest, in my opinion, because it doesn’t lie – two people in the ring, each with two fists, and one square. The environment dictates the story, and it’s hard to be original and honest.

I love bringing in real boxers to help with the basics of rep training. They bring truth and provide confidence, so I can focus on the story, the camera, and the characters with the director. Real boxers act as trainer and security blanket in build up fight.

What’s the first thing you tell anyone working on a battlefield for the first time?

“Don’t worry, trust the process and the team and we will guide you.” I look them in the eye and say, “We’re going to sweat and suffer and bleed together.” This is the journey and the expectations for all of us. We shake hands and make a contract for success. Then I give them a big hug and say, “Let’s get to work!”

Jordan (left) with Benavidez Jr. on the set of Creed 3.

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How quickly did Michael B Jordan return to that style of choreography in the first film, and what about that Jonathan Majors in this movie?

Michael is a pro at this now. He’s been doing this for 10 years and three movies with this character, and he’s basically an expert in choreography and performance. I’ve never worked with an actor who had a better memory for moves, or a stronger work ethic. It’s amazing to see and my job is a little easier.

Jonathan Majors was new to directing a movie about boxing, but he bumped it head-on and embraced the ride. We called him “The Machine” because he never left the gym. He was there from morning till evening, always working on something. He always wanted to do another tour, another actor, talk about the story and try to find the magic. Kudos to these guys for their work ethic and dedication. They really were the perfect pair for this movie.

What were the most difficult elements for you, as well as for the actors involved in these scenes?

One of the hardest elements for me is convincing everyone of this process. After I get my orders from the director, I go out and write the physical and visual language, like a rough draft of the script.

Once we agree on the direction, I have to get production design, props, makeup, wardrobe and everyone on the same page. Camera operator and DP are the most important partners for my business. My goal is to get the worker to work on the same team as the stunts, so we work in unison and rehearse everything.

When everyone knows the action script, the actors feel comfortable, the camera is ready, and so on. This is a very efficient way to work because in production, time is not your friend. The magic happens when you prepare, prepare, and prepare. There is only a certain amount of shots you can get the actors to work in before you run out of gas.

“Creed 3” marks the debut of the Jordanian director

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What are the most fun items?

The fun is when the process works, and I see everyone grow and do something they really thought they couldn’t do. So the flight is real.

Are there any stories that stand out from the filming? creed 3When it comes to fight scenes?

I really couldn’t believe what was going on when we were filming. I knew something special was going on with Michael seeing the movie and I think they did too, and so Michael and Jonathan were pushing each other really hard. But they never went down. In the end, we all looked at each other and said, “This just happened!” We both suffered through that journey and embraced it. So much respect to these guys for what they did and what they went through.

Many people say that fight choreography is actually more like dancing than fighting. Do you agree with this analogy or do you sum it up differently?

Yes, fight choreography is more like a dance than a real fight. It really is a violent ballet. Everything must be rehearsed, memorized, and performed a thousand times over, because the movements must work perfectly in order to be safe. All sections must meet, top to bottom. When the two actors dance together in the process, you find real magic.

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