Watch: Tessa Thompson talks about Sylvester Stallone sitting out Creed III
However, Tessa Thompson — who plays the eponymous Adonis Creed’s partner Bianca — says that she felt Stallone’s presence on set every day.
“His DNA is so inseparable from the project, that I feel like he's ever present,” she tells Yahoo UK.
Read more: Why Sylvester Stallone is not in Creed III
Thompson points out that Stallone directed the third Rocky movie, while the third Creed movie has been helmed by Michael B. Jordan, who also plays Adonis.
“I feel like Mike just so wanted to do him justice and make him proud,” she continues. “So I really felt his presence on set the whole time in a way.”
For the actor, best known for playing Valkyrie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Creed series has always felt special because of its focus on family.
That’s particularly true of Creed III, which sees Bianca and Adonis raising their spirited child Amara while Adonis deals with a character from his past, played by Jonathan Majors, interrupting his new life.
“These films have always felt unique and special to me, because at the heart they're really films about family and about relationships; the relationships between mentor and mentee between father and son,” Thompson says.
“At the heart of these films it's really about family, both the family that you're born into, and what that means in terms of your legacy, but also your chosen family. It's the thing that resonates with me the most about this franchise.”
Although there are six Rocky movies, Thompson says that she never went into the first Creed thinking that they would make more.
“I don't think we made the first one thinking that we would necessarily make more, although if you ask Mike, I think he would say that was always the plan and the dream,” she says.
“I think there's a reason why the Rocky films in general have stuck around for generations at this point. There's something about rooting for the underdog – this idea, as audience members, that we understand what it means to have to fight for something or fight through something, there's something essential about those themes.
“But I'm just so excited when I think about making this eight years ago, and how far we've come individually, both Mike and I, and how far these characters have gone.
"I adore Adonis and Bianca and now Amara. So it's a dream ticket to get to continue playing in this world.”
Creed III is in cinemas and IMAX from 3 March. Watch a trailer below.