Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) begins “Creed III” as the retired heavyweight boxing champion of the world, while wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) is a high-powered music producer. A power couple like that in Los Angeles would have a home that reflects their success, but this particular house also needed to be a showcase of accessibility for their deaf daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). This led production designer Jahmin Assa to imagine a home for the Creeds that was extremely modern in style and materials.
“I started talking to people about what you would do if you had all the resources at your disposal to provide for a deaf family member, and learned that everything [being] visible is a lot better than having things that can sneak up upon you,” Assa told IndieWire. “So a lot of glass, a lot of wider hallways. We wanted this openness upstairs to show some of these artists as well, like Theaster Gates, his take on the American flag. We actually got a painting from him. There’s a Charles White painting, who is a big, prominent Los Angeles artist.”
Those artworks speak to who Adonis is, but not as clearly as what Assa calls his “man cave.” That room was designed from scratch while production scouted for an appropriate location in Atlanta, and nowhere is Adonis’ sense of self more apparent than in its decor.
“It just became about, ‘Who are his heroes?’ [So we put] Afro Samurai, all the heavyweight champions, the L.A. Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant on the wall,” Assa said. “I wanted to always have this sort of imposing figure of himself and [the boxer] he was behind him. So we did that photo mural of him where he’s just looking gorgeous and strong and [it’s there] in all his most vulnerable moments. A lot happens in that space.”
In the meantime, Assa looked at “a gazillion” Atlanta homes in search of the modern style Adonis would gravitate to and that would reflect the Creeds’ tastes. But Assa was able to find an Atlanta location that would work for the rest of the Creed mansion. “We scouted and we scouted and we scouted, and then we finally found one house that was gorgeous,” he said. “And the thing that really did it for me was it had that upper glass landing. So that was isuch an interesting way to incorporate all the sensitivities to the ASL/deaf community, that [Amara] could always see the doorway. We wanted you to be able to see from every angle.
There were also fringe benefits to filming at that particular Atlanta house. “The location was near Buckhead, in Sandy Springs. It was next door to Cardi B’s house, actually. So we had wonderful security all the time who were lovely. Like, they just sort of sat out front when we were prepping and everything,” Assa said.
Courtesy of Jahmin Assa
But there were certain things about Los Angeles that neither Assa nor director Michael B. Jordan wanted to fake. So a location high in the Hollywood Hills was used for rooftop or exterior sequences, allowing the city of Los Angeles to serve as the background of Adonis’ life. “We came out to Los Angeles and shot that one brilliant scene with him and his daughter by the pool. I wanted them on top of the world, where they’re looking down at all of Los Angeles,” Assa said. “I was really into the idea that he’s a heavyweight champ and they’re in this fishbowl. The way the whole story plays out, he’s constantly being looked upon.”
The sense of scrutiny proves enough to prompt Adonis into ending his retirement to return to the ring. But it’s telling that Adonis doesn’t find the sense of being observed oppressive; it’s part of what drives him to excel as a boxer. But it’s also telling that different forms of scrutiny is built into the very walls of his family’s home. “The job is simple: To give each of these characters a voice,” Assa said.