Tessa Thompson has starred in multiple films including 2010’s For Colored Girls, 2014’s Selma, and 2018’s Sorry to Bother You. She became a superhero in Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, playing the character Valkyrie. Her most recent film is Creed II, where she plays Bianca Porter, a singer-songwriter suffering from progressive hearing loss who is Creed’s girlfriend.
Screen Rant: Tessa. This is a great movie. I love it so much. And I gotta ask, because Bianca is so refreshing to me. Because she's not a general love interest, she has her own goals, her own aspirations. So let's catch the people up. How is Bianca's music career going?
Tessa Thompson: Oh it's going really well. She's very happy. She just signed with a label, which is a big deal. I think for her she's in this space that I think that a lot of artists, I have tons of friends that are musicians and they go through this period where maybe you're an indie musician and you're making music in your living room and you're in charge of everything. And then suddenly you maybe have some interests and you have to make a decision do you want to open yourself up to collaborate with others? Do you want to take a chance and maybe see your work go to the next level, but give up some of your control over it and that's a really delicate and exciting space for an artist. And so it was really fun to get to play that in this. And also in the space between the first film and the second she has really evolved and how do make the music evolve too? So we had some dope people like James Fauntleroy and... come in and write with me and that was so exciting to take the music to a new level.
Screen Rant: That's awesome. This time around you get to share the screen with Mama Creed, Phylicia Rashad. How was that experience?
Tessa Thompson: Incredible, because I wouldn't be here without Phylicia! Honestly she paved the way for me and so many women like me. She's just like class personified and so incredibly giving and gifted. And when we were making the film, she only had Mondays to give us because she was directing a play in New York. So she would come on the train and work her only day off with us. So she's just a consummate professional and like, I just aspire to be a fraction of what she is as a human and performer.
Screen Rant: Me too.
Tessa Thompson: I know. Don't we all?
Screen Rant: Speaking of collaboration, you have a new director this time around. Steven is taking the helm here. How was his vision lining up with Ryan Coogler's and what did he bring to the table for the sequel?
Tessa Thompson: I mean, you know, oddly we were so...Obviously this was our darling and we made it with Ryan and he wouldn't be coming back, so there was trepidation around that. And then Steven was really the perfect person when I saw his film, The Land. That was immediately apparent to me. And oddly, he and Ryan share a lot of things in common. They both went to USC. These Creed films respectively are their second films. They both made their debut features that went to Sundance, both about their hometowns. They're both with their high school sweethearts.
Screen Rant: Really?
Tessa Thompson: Yeah. It's crazy the parallels between them and in a way they are similar filmmakers in the sense of their sensitivity. But they're also very different and very singular. One thing that I think that was so beautiful that Steven brought to this film is really wanting to humanize the villain. The would be villain in the form of Drago. And I think that really sophisticated the movie and complicated the fight scenes in a way that gives them a real emotional core. So I love that about his vision.
Screen Rant: Because you care about Viktor just as much as you do about Adonis.
Tessa Thompson: I know! That's the cool hat trick of the movie. I think it's really like very, very special and very different than any Rocky film really. You really care...yeah.
Screen Rant: Speaking of Adonis and Viktor. How does Bianca deal with, kind of, Adonis' obsession to beat the Dragos?
Tessa Thompson: Yeah, I mean someone was talking today about how this film sort of talks about toxic masculinity and I think something that is happening to Adonis at the beginning of this film is that he really is an army of one. He is so focused on this idea of vengeance and what he wants and his own legacy. That he sort of...he is ignoring the things that are really important to him, that really sustain him and in the course of the film he figures that out. And certainly Bianca helps him, but the truth is that's something that he has to figure out on his own. It's not the responsibility of any woman. He's gotta figure out his own toxic masculinity and clean it up. And it's cool that he in the course of the film, he does that and he also realizes that in his opponent they have so much in common. Which I think is really beautiful.
Screen Rant: It really is. Well you guys did a great job. Thank you so much!
Tessa Thompson: Thank you so much.
- Creed 2 (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018