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While Sebastian Stan has been working consistently for the past decade—in movies like Black Swan and last year’s The Martian, and the TV shows Gossip Girl and Once Upon a Time—this summer he got a high-profile break with a vastly expanded role in the film Captain America: Civil War. As Bucky, Stan became a vital role to the latest chapter in the Marvel film series, starring alongside GQ Style cover Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Mackie. And speaking of GQ Style, Stan tried on the season’s slickest sunglasses for the debut issue. We caught up with the actor last week on one of those perfect NYC spring days, the kind that give him anxiety, and talked social media, his relationship with the fashion community, and his thoughts on Bucky and Captain America’s rumored gay relationship.
GQ: Are you based in New York?
I am, I am. I’m seeing this beautiful weather right now. It’s so pretty it’s giving me anxiety.
Because I feel like I have to go live life, every day.
What do you do when it’s nice out, to take advantage?
Oh, the usual. Just run six miles, read a novel, go out until three. Everything. [laughs] I’m joking. Probably like five minutes of each of those things.
Can you just run around the streets?
Yeah, it’s New York. Nobody cares. I ran by the West Side Highway yesterday; it was fantastic.
Do you ever get double takes?
No, but today I did run into a fan on the street that I recognize from some of the conventions. Some of the fans are so loyal you end up seeing them again and again at different things. So I ran into her on the street, and you always think, Oh, hey. I thought I know you. But then you think…Is this really a coincidence? I never try to share my location, you know?
You mean on social media?
Yeah. Well, I was so against social media for such a long time, but now I can’t live without it.
You’re very active on Instagram.
It’s part of the world that we’re in now, it really is. I understand the way that it fits into my business, in all of our businesses. Like the other night at the CFDA Awards, where I went with Todd Snyder; it was a great opportunity. A) It was a fun night, and B) It’s a great partnership. And then I feel like you have to connect with fans; individual connection is important. It never used to be that way. It used to be—I’m talking 30, 40 years ago—the less people knew about you, the better, the more different roles you could play. There’s a pro and a con to the whole thing. What I find is that the individual connections you have with fans that transpire—once you get a great message or see some artwork, it’s really humbling. I see it as a plus in that regard.
You have a strong theater background. Will you be doing more of that anytime soon?
I love it. I wish I could do more of it. With theater, it’s about a more specific window. It comes down to availability. The commitment there is every night, eight shows a week, and I feel like it’s even more important to connect with the material and to really like what you’re doing, because you’re doing the same thing every night. So you’re looking for something like that, but that fits in a very specific window. It’s not easy to find that, but I’m always looking for it. Theater is the most challenging thing to do, it’s just you out there with no rope. You can’t call time out, you’re on a roller coaster.
You went to that famous theater camp, Stagedoor Manor, when you were younger. What was that experience like?
It was a magical, magical place. The time that I was there was a very particular time. First of all, there were no cell phones. The first thing they did when you get there is say you’re not allowed to contact your parents, you’re not allowed to contact your friends. There were no distractions. You were forced to embrace your environment. It breaks you out of your shell, and I ended up with some amazing friendships from there. I met my manager there, and we’ve been together for 17 years. It’s a really special place. It was heartbreaking saying goodbye and going home. It was fucking real, man. This was before Glee! This was like, are you at the cool table or not? Or at the respected table. There are always hierarchies and stuff—it’s just a product of those environments—but at Stagedoor, everyone was embraced. Continue reading
“I’m haunted by that movie Birdman,” Sebastian Stan tells me as we sit in a hotel room at the Los Angeles Four Seasons while the press day for Captain America: Civil War unfolds around us. Based on the number of men and women with headsets stationed near doors, you’d think there was a head of state in town — and really, how far off is that comparison? The Avengers actors aren’t running any nations, but they do represent Disney’s flagship franchise, one so elaborate they had to invent a term for it: a cinematic universe. By the time Civil War leaves theaters, this universe will have made Disney $10 billion worldwide; knowing that, the pomp and circumstance doesn’t seem so overblown.
Stan, who plays Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier — namesake of the second Captain America movie and an even bigger part of this new one — is clearly trying to wrap his head around this superhero life. Thus, the reference to Birdman: a movie about an actor attempting to erase the memories of his superhero alter ego by staging a serious play; a movie in which an actor’s superhero alter ego follows him like a ghost, reminding him it’s the hero people want to see, not the washed-up actor and his play; a movie that exists as a rebuke to the tights-clad tentpoles that have taken over the industry. This seems like a matter for a licensed therapist, not one of the revolving door of journalists coming through press day. Is Stan worried that his alter ego, the Winter Soldier, will overtake Sebastian Stan, the actor?
“I think that depends on what choices you make as an actor in your time off,” he explains. “But it’s an interesting — I love how in Birdman, it talks so much about where the persona ends and when the person and the character become the same thing. Because I’ve seen that happen with certain people. Certain characters become so popular, right, because people just love to see them.”
It’s a valid consideration for a guy like Stan, who has chops and experience and was certainly not raised with the expectation of becoming a movie star. Born in Romania, Stan made his way to the United States by the age of 12 and studied at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, including a year at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London. After school, he did work on the stage, including a run with Liev Schreiber in Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio — here’s Stan doing a Bogosian monologue — as well as on film and TV, highlighted by a recurring role on Gossip Girl and parts in Black Swan and Rachel Getting Married. Continue reading
Sebastian was on The Late Late Show with James Corden on May 5th to promote his film Captain America: Civil War (which is now in theaters, by the way!), where he discussed the film albeit while charming the hell out of Sharon Stone along with ladies and gents everywhere (let’s be honest). It’s a great interview for sure with lots of laughs.
You can watch the entire episode below if you missed it, and check out HD captures in our gallery now.