NewYorkMoves.com — There’s a sense, when you’re watching celebrities on the red carpet at the premiere of their newest blockbuster, that they’re as comfortable in front of screaming legions of fans as they might be sitting on their couch at home. There’s also a sense that they enjoy standing there, squinting under flashing lights and deafened by photographers crying out for their attention–and may even be basking in it.
Not so for Sebastian Stan. The evening I spoke to him was also the evening premiere of Captain America: Winter Soldier in LA. Although he was about to take a turn on the red carpet himself, he didn’t seem to know what to feel about the madness about to ensue.
“It’s not a normal thing,” Sebastian says of the red carpet experience. “You just see all the fans that have gathered and they’ve been there since…I don’t know what hour. And it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”
That’s not to say he takes the feeling as his Moment of Arrival. “I find that if feels better always being on the chase, as opposed to feeling like you’ve never arrived somewhere. Because arriving somewhere also means kind of an end… If anything you’ve arrived at one point and then it just sort of begins again.”
(We’ll see how it feels after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, catapults his name even farther into the Marvel fandom than Captain America: The First Avenger did.)
Sebastian Stan has had his share of beginnings. He’s lived in several countries. As a kid he grew up in Romania then moved to Vienna and finally New York when he was 12. While New Yorkers might have grown up playing Captain America with their friends, Captain America was never on Sebastian’s radar. “I didn’t even grow up with comic books,” he says. “I grew up in Communism. I think that’s the bigger coincidence–that I ended up playing somebody that has a red star on their shoulder.”
“[The move] was a long time ago,” he adds, “but at the same time I feel like it was the right age because I adapted pretty quickly. I had an accent and I was also so self-conscious–some people feel I still have an accent. But it got me to where I am today, and I’m happy it happened the way it happened.”
Sebastian still calls New York home–largely because he was just more accustomed to the urban way of life, as opposed to sort of more suburbia, spread-out type living. “For me it’s as simple as that, it’s just where we came when me and my family came to this country.”
From the first play he ever performed in, Sebastian knew that acting would be his calling. Since then he’s made it his business to be a triple threat: acting on television (Political Animals), on stage (he played Hal Carter in William Inge’s Picnic last year), and now stepping up to put his focus on film. When asked if he has a preference for a particular media platform, he pauses thoughtfully before deciding.
“They have their own challenges… I don’t necessarily prefer one over the others. At the moment, the movie experience is something I’m currently more focused on. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the material. … If it’s something I read and really respond to, or just get a feeling like ‘I have to somehow do this’, I gauge it by that.”
Flawed and conflicted characters are his preferred ones–as they often are with actors, and it’s easy to see why. “It’s sort of like going to a restaurant,” he says, “You have a menu… and you see all the things you can order; and you’re asking the waiter, ‘Hey, what’s in that? What kind of sauce is that? How do you cook that?’ It’s like wanting to order the richest thing [on the menu]. Rich characters are perfect characters. They’re always swinging to either side of the pendulum…” He chuckles and rushes to assure: “It doesn’t mean they would ever be fun to live in real life; I definitely beg to differ on that.”
Flawed? Conflicted? Rich? These adjectives certainly describe several of the characters Sebastian has graced us with – TJ Hammond and Bucky Barnes most definitely included. Not only because of the characters but also the space which they occupy. Concerning TJ, Political Animals followed the life of a prominent political family and all their personal troubles–and how those troubles, TJ’s in particular, followed them into the public spotlight.
“We live in a world where celebrity culture is really massive… For [TJ], [coming up with his character] was more like, [looking at] some of these kids of really public figures that end up taking the weight [of their parents’ public lives] and how they deal with it.”