GQ-Magazine.co.uk — Even as our backsides became numb and our eyes mere bloodshot arrow slits, at the very end of Avengers: Endgame, Sebastian Stan (as Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier) stayed true to form, keeping stoic and, largely, shtum.
While Anthony Mackie, in the role of Sam Wilson/The Falcon, was handed Captain America’s famous vibranium frisbee by a very wrinkly but very happy Chris Evans – thus becoming, for now, the MCU’s next Cap’ – all the dewy-eyed audience got from our favourite, oft-scowling tough guy was a modest nod of approval. No air punch. Not so much as a celebratory grunt. Stan as The Winter Soldier is nothing if not the very strong, very silent type.
Today, reminiscing freely about that last scene he had to play in Marvel’s multibillion-dollar-shifting Infinity Saga – Thanos defeated, Hulk with a sore hand, Tony Stark (*sob*) deceased, multiverse opened and unhinged – Stan explains how the germ of an idea for their new spinoff, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, now streaming on Disney+, began to take shape. “This wasn’t something long planned, not at all,” he says, laughing, when I suggest super-producer Kevin Feige – Marvel’s boardroom-based end-of-level boss – may well have had Mackie and Stan’s on-screen partnership in the pipeline for years.
“Maybe Kevin did, but he didn’t tell me about it. But once Anthony and I realised these changes were taking place to the storyline in Endgame, in particular to the story of Captain America, I think both of us sort of looked at one another and thought, ‘Well, we’re still here! We’re not dead! So, what happens to us now?’”
Naturally, almost unflinchingly, Marvel’s “not-so-random successful movie generator” had a decent answer: “This show is a revival, in spirit at least, of some of those buddy comedies that were so popular in the 1980s.” Think Lethal Weapon – just with more capes and a bigger pyro budget.
“Anthony and I both get a kick out of working together; we always have a lot of fun. Also, this show is six hour-long episodes, which gives us a lot more to play with than a two-hour film. ‘Buddy’ walked out of that last film with an identity crisis, so there’s a lot to dive into.”
Stan pauses momentarily, chuckling to himself. He stares off camera to his left, something he does sporadically throughout our chat, like he needs a horizon in order to contemplate certain answers. We’re Zooming, natch, he in Vancouver shooting Fresh with Daisy Edgar-Jones – who was kind enough to take these photographs of Stan, exclusively for British GQ – and me in darkest North London nursing a Heineken 0.0.
Stan lifts a flat cap, scrapes back a full hand of jet-black hair. Although his accent rolls in deep and direct from New York City, the actor was in fact born in communist Romania, where he witnessed his parents struggle through the revolution. He spent time in Vienna too, before emigrating to the States with his mother aged 12.
“Actually, now we’ve got these longer scenes together, there’s a lot more dialogue between us.” You make it sound like that is a problem, I say. “Well, in a way it’s the bit that worried me the most. Not as an actor, per se, but as a fan of the character.” How come? “Well, Winter Soldier and Falcon have worked together best when they’ve had little to say to one another. We’re good at quips. So, now, what are they going to say to one another?”
This sounds somewhat trivial but Winter Soldier’s entire thing – as the man who has walked, run and generally caused mayhem in his boots since 2011 knows only too well – is a very nonchalant, 1950s sort of sullenness. “He’s been silent for, well, almost all the movies and that’s what made him cool. He was cool because he didn’t open his mouth, a sort of less-is-more, brainwashed assassin.
“For this show I had to find his voice, in all senses, and do it in a way that was timely to what is going on in 2021.” Timely, how so? Stan is emphatic: “Look, you can’t do a show that explores the title of Captain America without touching on some of the stuff we have seen on the news. In fact, I would argue this is Marvel’s most relevant show yet.” Continue reading