Tessa Thompson wanted to work with Jonathan Majors

Like many movie fans, Thompson was impressed by the Creed III cast in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Four years later, he still looks to the festival for inspiration.

Like many movie fans, Tessa Thompson first noticed her “Creed III” co-star Jonathan Majors during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival when he starred alongside Jimmie Fails in Joe Talbot’s debut film, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. (That year, Thompson was on the jury for the United States Drama Competition, which awarded Talbot the director prize and the film a special award for “creative collaboration.”) From the start, he was captivated and eager to work with the rising star.

Four years later, he got his wish. The pair co-star (alongside director Michael B. Jordan) in “Creed III,” which returns Thompson as Bianca Creed and casts Majors as Jordan Adonis Creed’s old friend, former Golden Gloves champion Dame Anderson. For Thompson, it’s a full-circle moment.

“I already admire him from afar. I was at Sundance the year his film The Last Black Man in San Francisco premiered, and that was the first time I saw his work and I just thought it was so brilliant,” Thompson said in a recent interview. IndieWire. “He’s an actor I’ve been following. So I’m a fan. … I get so excited when people I follow come and join projects I’m involved with. Because it’s a team sport to me, I’m like, ‘Oh man, we’ve got to get this person on our team. . That person is an ace.

Working alongside Majors and Jordan was exciting for Thompson, who relished the opportunity to watch the two stars duke it out, literally.

“One of the things that’s really fun for me about these movies is that there’s an aspect of really becoming a viewer,” Thompson said. “Because typically, and especially on this one, all the boxing scenes are preloaded, so guys can do those scenes, and all the narrative stuff usually happens afterwards. In those (early) weeks, the work I do is cut footage, work that I can do very quickly, but I’m usually there to watch and be part of the energy, and I love to watch. I really liked coming even when I wasn’t working to see what it was like.”

“Creed III”


For Thompson, who hopes to direct his own films soon, watching Majors work was particularly exciting. “I was so fascinated, maybe because of my interest in directing, in the acting process, because everyone approaches it so wildly differently,” he said. “I will say that Jonathan’s approach is very colorful. There is a theatricality to the way he approaches the work, especially when the cameras aren’t rolling. I am a theater woman! I really enjoyed watching this.”

Before the release of “Creed III,” however, Thompson was able to return to Sundance, which often debuted films starring the star, from Rebecca Hall’s “Passing” to Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You.” The actress was seemingly everywhere at this year’s festival, presumably checking out other potential co-stars.

“First of all, I like going to film festivals when I don’t have a movie, and I haven’t done that much,” Thompson said. “I’ve done it twice now at Sundance, once on the jury. Just by accident this time.”

Asked to name his favorite films from this year’s Sundance, Thompson was ready to make a choice. “So what I loved about Sundance: I’m a little biased because I’m working with him right now, but it’s really amazing because I’ve been a fan of him since his debut,” Thompson said. “Will Oldroyd, who did ‘Lady Macbeth,’ which introduced us to the incredible Florence Pugh and the incredible Naomi Ackie. I love that movie. I remember seeing a matinee and it shook me. You watch those certain movies and they stay with you for a while for the rest of your day. I’ve been following him for a long time.”

The pair are working on a quiet television project, so Thompson took time out to watch his latest film Eileen, starring Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie. “We’re working on some television together, but I had this anxiety because I hadn’t seen ‘Eileen,’ and I was like, ‘Please, make it good. Please let it be good, let it be good,” he said. “And it is like this good. I really, really loved Eileen.



Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Also on Thompson’s list? “I really, really, really loved the documentary ‘Invisible Beauty’ about Bethann Hardison,” Thompson said. “What I really like (when) watching movies is obviously (I like a movie that I like, but also a movie that changes my mind film making. That’s what I thought the film did so well, because the film itself is in a way about the filmmaking and the authorship rather than the stories, because Bethann, who is the subject of the documentary, is also one of the filmmakers. While making the film, they talk about the process of making the film, and there’s something very meta about it, and it’s just beautiful.”

He’s also crazy about Sebastian Silva’s wild “Rotting in the Sun,” in which social media star Jordan Firstman and Silva himself share a broken relationship (and more) in Mexico. “I really liked the crazy movie Rotting in the Sun. It’s so good and weird and the twist is so good,” Thompson said. “Recently, funnily enough, I was in Japan and something weird happened to my eye, so I went to a doctor and we used Google Translate apps back and forth. That device in the movie was so funny, but then when I was in a semi-stressed situation and had to use it myself, I was like, “So clever. It’s such an honest thing to do.”

Final choice? Thompson added with a gasp, bringing it all back: “And in ‘Magazine Dreams,’ obviously Jonathan is incredible!

MGM release “Creed III” is now in theaters.

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