Michael B. Jordan Says Rocky Balboa's 'Essence' Will Live On in 'Creed III' Despite Character Not Appearing

Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone starred in the first two Creed movies, with Stallone reprising his iconic Rocky character

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa and Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed 'Creed II'
Photo: B Wetcher/MGM/Warner

Sylvester Stallone might not be returning to Creed III, but star and director Michael B. Jordan says his "essence and his spirit" will always be part of the franchise.

Jordan and Stallone starred together in the previous Creed movies, which follow Jordan as Adonis, the son of Stallone's Rocky's rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed. A rep for Stallone, 74, recently confirmed he won't be part of the third movie, and Jordan explained why in a new interview.

"I think that Sly let it be known that he wasn't coming back for this one but I think, you know, his essence and his spirit… there's always going to be a little bit of Rocky within Adonis," Jordan, 34, said in an interview with IGN. "But this is a Creed franchise, and we really want to build this story and this world around him moving forward."

He continued, "So, it's always respect and always a s----ton of love for what he's built, but we really want to push and navigate Adonis forward and the family that he created. So, hopefully, you guys will love what I'm thinking… what we're cooking up. I think it's going to be something special."

Sylvester Stallone Creed II

Creed III, which is set for a Nov. 23, 2022 release, has locked Jordan in for his directorial debut.

Alongside reprising his role and directing, PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive will also produce the film, THR previously reported in March.

"Directing has always been an aspiration, but the timing had to be right," Jordan said in a statement obtained by the outlet at the time. "Creed III is that moment — a time in my life where I've grown more sure of who I am, holding agency in my own story, maturing personally, growing professionally, and learning from the greats like Ryan Coogler, most recently Denzel Washington, and other top tier directors I respect. All of which sets the table for this moment."

"This franchise and in particular the themes of Creed III are deeply personal to me," Jordan added. "I look forward to sharing the next chapter of Adonis Creed's story with the same responsibility of being its director and namesake."

Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad are also expected to reprise their roles, according to THR.

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