Given Bill Conti’s iconic theme, it’s easy to understand why some composers would feel trepidatious about trying to score a new title in the “Rocky” series. Yet Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” is no ordinary “Rocky” movie, and as composer Ludwig Goransson explains in our recent webcam chat (watch below), the two decided to take a different approach altogether. “We really wanted to tell Creed’s story, to make something new and unique, and really develop Creed’s character.”
This seventh film in the series explores the journey of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of boxing legend Apollo Creed, who seeks out the mentorship of his father’s old friend and rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Legacy was a touchstone for Goransson. “I think there’s a lot of expectations working on a film in a franchise with such a legendary score,” he admits. “I think when I started to score the movie, having permission from the director to start on a clean slate was a really good way to begin.”
Starting from scratch gave the Swedish-born composer room to explore new themes, including the main one for the title character, which evolved from something else entirely. “That was originally written as a love theme for Adonis and Bianca,” he explains, referring to the love interest for whom he also wrote a number of original songs.
“If you think about the movie, there is a scene where they have their first date in the restaurant, and that transitions into the graveyard scene with Rocky. So that’s the first time you hear the love theme.” According to the composer, the director “really loved it, and it was also my favorite, so I later on just tried different variations of this theme and just put it with big brass and the orchestra, and it just turned into this heroic, big theme for Creed.”
Goransson scored Coogler’s debut film, “Fruitvale Station” (2013), for which he received a Black Reel Award nomination. And not only is he in contention this year for his score but he’s got three chances at a Best Song nomination with “Fighting Stronger,” “Grip,” and “Waiting for My Moment."
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"Creed" photo credit: Warner Bros.