Hey guys! I know it’s been kind of quiet from my end in regards to updates and without diving into details I’ll just say life hasn’t been super nice in regards to having time or motivation to work on the site. However, in my downtime I’ve finally gotten all of Sebastian’s previously released films capped and uploaded into the gallery. You can check those out below by clicking the links to the gallery.
Hollywood Reporter — The actor also dives into the debated ending of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and what the future holds for Bucky Barnes: “These characters are getting so much more mileage for all of us to explore them.”
Sebastian Stan jumped at the chance to try his hand at improvising for the duration of Drake Doremus’ latest relationship drama, ‘Endings, Beginnings’. Starring opposite Shailene Woodley and Jamie Dornan, Stan plays an Angeleno named Frank, whose erratic behavior complicates a budding relationship between Daphne (Woodley) and his friend Jack (Dornan). Despite being intimidated by the exercise of improvisation, Stan knew it was important for him to see what he was capable of without the comfort and safety of a script.
“I’ve always felt protected by scripts, lines and scenes. I feel like I’m one of those people who’s opened up much more by scripts. I’m not as witty on my own,” Stan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This was one of those different experiences, and I would certainly do it again. I’d be curious to see if I could ever use parts of [improvisation] in a bigger movie… So, maybe this was a really training experience for that.”
Until the coronavirus pandemic shut down the entirety of Hollywood, Stan was just a few weeks away from wrapping Marvel Studios’ ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ — the MCU’s first foray into scripted television for Disney+. Since many fans have wondered whether the show would maintain the look and feel of its theatrical counterparts, Stan is now shedding some light on how cinematic the streaming show is.
“It felt like both. In a lot of ways, it felt like a movie,” Stan recalls. “What I loved about it was that, tonally, it was very much in the same world that ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ was, which was one of my favorite experiences that I’ve ever had, period. So, in a sense, it was grounded and very much in the world as we know it. But, it’s also really jam-packed with a lot of massive, massive action scenes mixed with deep focus on character. These characters are getting so much more mileage for all of us to explore them. We can put them in situations that we’ve never been able to put them in before because you now have six hours as opposed to two.”
Now a year removed from the release of ‘Avengers: Endgame’, the highest grossing film of all time, questions are still being asked about Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Bucky Barnes’ concluding moments. While many fans agree with Rogers’ choice to pass his iconic shield on to Sam Wilson, there’s also a contingent of fans who wanted to see Bucky take on the mantle of Captain America from his best friend. To Stan, Steve was giving Bucky the same gift he gave himself: a life.
“Steve is saying to Bucky, ‘You’re going to go and do that, too. I’m not going to put this thing on you. We’re both going to live our lives — the lives that were actually taken from us back in the ‘40s when we enlisted,’” Stan explains. “So, that’s where I felt they were at the end of the movie. I don’t think there’s a desire or any conflicted thoughts about taking on that mantle. Sam, to me, was always the clear man to take on that mantle for numerous reasons, which also comes with so much more baggage that’s going to be explored in the show. I guess you’ll have to tune into Disney+ to find out why. (Laughs.) At the end of Endgame, for either Steve or Bucky, it’s really not about the shield.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Stan elaborates on the process of improvising an entire movie, the latest with Disney+’s ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ and his interpretation of Steve and Bucky’s last moments in ‘Avengers: Endgame’.
How’s everything with you in New York?
It’s alright considering what people are going through out there. I’m pretty lucky. I haven’t been home in a long time so it’s been good to be home. You always feel weird when somebody says you can’t do something; It’s difficult to grasp that quickly. But, in truth, if I wasn’t working and I had time at home, I would probably be doing what I’m doing now. I’m writing, watching a lot of movies and just taking advantage of this time to chill out and get back to being present, something that is more and more difficult in our lives. I’m finding that my motivation is all over the place. Once I get to about 3 o’clock, I’m done for the day because it’s hard for me to get my focus back. So, I try to do all the important bits in the morning. Once in a while, I’ll go out for a run in the very early morning because I know nobody is around here in New York, and I was able to grab a couple of really cool stills of Times Square empty. It’s just weird, but anything to make a day go by. (Laughs.) This is where we’re at.
So, as I said to Jamie, I felt like I was invading the characters’ privacy while watching ‘Endings, Beginnings. Did you feel that level of intimacy as a performer?
Yeah, man, it was extremely intimate right from the beginning. I was familiar with Drake’s work so I kinda had an idea going into it, but I didn’t really know what the process was going to be like. It really just started with this one-on-one meeting that Drake and I had really early on; we ended up talking for three hours about everything, basically. I don’t think either of us are small-talk guys anymore, so that felt very natural. I loved how honest he was about life experience, relationships and the curiosity of it all. So, we really hit it off. When I met him, I think I was trying to sway him to think of me as Jack, Jamie’s character. Personally, I felt a little closer to that character, but when we made the movie, Drake made me believe I was wrong. (Laughs.) We had an outline of what the movie was trying for, but the specificity of the performances, the relationship dynamics and the chemistry really made it feel like we were discovering it in the present moment on the day. There wasn’t a lot of rehearsal. Shailene came in late in the movie, and we probably had about two weeks where we were kind of rehearsing and just getting to know each other a little bit. The rest was a day-to-day, on-set trial and error in order to see what would light people up.
Since you had just come off a string of massive Marvel movies, was it nice to get back to basics with a film like this, so to speak?
Well, yeah, it’s just different. Particularly in the last two years for me, I’ve been so much more aware of directors like never before. I’ve desperately wanted to work with very specific directors — Drake being one of them. Then, when you go on that set with a specific director you’ve wanted to work with, they have a very specific vision, and I just immediately know that I’m going into somebody’s very specific vision. On the bigger movies, for example, I had a relationship with the Russos over three movies, and I knew the way they were working. Every time, I sort of felt like we were picking it back up again, but just in terms of format, structure and overall scope, I knew they were making a very different movie each time. On these little movies, sometimes, the director can take these very specific points of views, and you’re just in the hands of that. That’s what makes the experience different because it’s that director’s vision, and it’s very oriented to that particular person. That’s how I felt with Drake, and that’s how I imagine other specific directors are. I recently worked with Antonio Campos [on The Devil All the Time], who’s another director whose movies I love, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. Again, he has a very specific approach, vision and how he wants the thing to look and feel. You kind of just surrender to that.
When your character, Frank, first meets Shailene’s character, Daphne, at the New Year’s Eve party, they jokingly put distance between one another. Since many of us are now watching entertainment through our present-day lens, have you realized how ahead of the curve you were in this case?
(Laughs.) I didn’t even think about that; you’re right. It’s interesting to think because we don’t know, really, what the ramifications of this social distancing will be. We may still feel the effects of it well into the next couple years. It’s going to be a while before we get life back to “normal,” but will it ever really go back to normal? That’s the stuff that remains to be seen. I can definitely see a world where people are much more conscious about personal space, perhaps. I don’t know. Shailene and I were talking in another interview the other day, and I was like, “Listen, I know you’re a hugger — and so am I — but do you think people are going to want to be hugged by us after this?” I don’t know.
At least we can now opt not to shake hands without offending anyone.
Well, apparently, no one liked that. I was not aware that that was not a fun thing to do. Yeah, that might be gone at this point.
I got a kick out of Frank’s The Pianist reference. Did you name a different movie for each improvised take?
(Laughs.) No, that was the only time I referenced a movie. Every time it was different. One of the things that I learned with Drake really early on was to never try and do something that worked, again. That reference worked; I didn’t know he was gonna use it. Doing it again — even remotely getting close to it — goes against his way of working. You’re just recreating a moment, and he wants everything to be very fresh and in the moment. I have a friend who always picks on me for watching heavy, intense, dramatic movies by myself at home on the weekends. He just makes fun of me all the time. So, the reference came from that. I love all movies, but I just love watching the heavier dramatic movies. (Laughs.) So, it came from remembering that in the moment and just saying it. It was odd enough, but it made it.
I asked Jamie this question, but I’d like to get your take as well. How do you ensure that you’re improvising as the character and not as Sebastian?
That’s the problem. I don’t know. Even though we’re improvising as honestly as possible, we’re still kind of doing it with a direction from the outline. I think that is what gives it an element that’s still affected rather than me just going up there and saying how I feel. And then, in the editing room, which is what makes Drake brilliant at this, he finds the moments; the way he cuts is just fascinating to me. I remember saying to him, “Drake, no take is the same. I don’t know how you’re going to cut this. It’s impossible.” And yet, he made it work. He found the conversation, and he found the moments. He’s got a very specific way of cutting that I love which is the reactions and so on. He really filtered those performances in the editing room as well. There was a lot of back-and-forth dialogue between me and Shailene that never made it, but again, it’s about him picking what he feels is right for who each character is.
Did you have any history with improvisation before this experience?
No, not at all.
Were you intimidated by it?
I definitely was. Absolutely, I was. I didn’t have an audition for the movie, but I had that three-hour session with Drake where we talked about different things and topics. I think he was just curious to see how honest our conversation could go, and I just wasn’t afraid of that. It was very scary at the beginning. It’s that question you asked, where you go, “Well, this isn’t really who I am. I don’t do these things that this character does.” I’ve always felt protected by scripts, lines and scenes. I feel like I’m one of those people who’s opened up much more by scripts. I’m not as witty on my own. This was one of those different experiences, and I would certainly do it again. I’d be curious to see if I could ever use parts of it in a bigger movie. Believe it or not, on those bigger projects, you do use improv. You do the scenes a couple times. You get it as it’s written on paper, and then you say, “Let’s just do this one more time and try it out this way. Let’s just see what happens and then we have it.” Sometimes, that ends up in the movie because it’s weirdly a sort of wildcard. So, maybe this was a really training experience for that.
Shifting gears to some obligatory Marvel questions… Did you shoot ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ like a TV show or movie?
It felt like both. In a lot of ways, it felt like a movie. Again, we’re not finished; we still have some stuff to do. What I loved about it was that, tonally, it was very much in the same world that ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ was, which was one of my favorite experiences that I’ve ever had, period. So, in a sense, it was grounded and very much in the world as we know it. But, it’s also really jam-packed with a lot of massive, massive action scenes mixed with deep focus on character. That’s what’s really exciting about this. We’re getting to keep it in the world of the movies, so it’s recognizable that way, but at the same time, these characters are getting so much more mileage for all of us to explore them. We can put them in situations that we’ve never been able to put them in before because you now have six hours as opposed to two. It’s always a discovery.
Prior to the shutdown, is it true that you were only a week away from wrapping?
No, we were probably at least two or three, but don’t quote me on that.
At the end of ‘Avengers: Endgame’, between the dialogue and your performance, it seemed pretty cut and dried that Bucky knew about Steve’s plan to remain in the past with Peggy (Hayley Atwell). Were you surprised that some people didn’t entirely pick up on that?
I don’t know if I was surprised. The Internet completely misconstrued something else and made it entirely into something that it wasn’t, but later, I sort of became aware that people really felt like we needed to have more between the two of them or something. But, it hadn’t occurred to me because at the same time, that scene was saying so much with subtext. That being said, how do you put it all together in a three-hour movie? To merge all those different stories together, you could’ve had another movie of everybody saying goodbye to each other. So, I love how much people care about those two characters and that they wanted more from them, but I just took it as “This is as much screen time as we’ve got left before the movie ends.” It was already such a long movie. And then, it’s just the knowledge that these guys have always known each other’s moves, so to speak. They knew each other so well that they could say, “Okay, I know what he’s going to do, what decisions he’s going to make and I support that.” Yeah, it’s just what it was. That’s what was on the page, and that’s what we shot.
Bucky hugged Steve and said he was gonna miss him. To me, it’s crystal clear that you played it as knowing Steve’s intent.
Oh, a thousand percent, yeah. I played it as goodbye. What I was playing was, “Okay, I know he’s going, and he’s not going to come back. I can’t talk about it, because if I do, then they’re going to try and stop him from doing what he wants to do. So, I’ve gotta support that.” That’s what I was playing in the scene. Suddenly, when he shows back up again, I’m playing it like, “Oh! Well, he didn’t tell me he was gonna do that. I knew he was gonna leave, and even though I knew what he was going to do with the shield, I didn’t know he was gonna pop up over there now and be older.” So, I was playing that. Look, I love a good scene with dialogue, but sometimes, I find it really interesting when there’s not a lot said. And funnily enough, it’s sort of been the trademark of Bucky. Then, you’re watching behavior, you’re watching the eyes and you’re wondering what they’re thinking. You’re more involved and tuned in. So, it’s always fun for me to try to do as much as I can without dialogue. It’s exciting as an actor because then I wonder what people are getting out of it. In that aspect, it’s fun.
Some people still lament the fact that Steve didn’t give Bucky the shield in order to take on the mantle of Captain America. Bucky may have been brainwashed, but Captain America is such a symbolic position that you can’t just write off fifty years of transgressions by The Winter Soldier. I also have a hard time imagining that Bucky would even want that role. Since you know Bucky best, what’s your impression of Steve’s choice?
The MCU — as I saw it from my humble perspective — is a bit different in that regard to the comics. Where we arrived with him at the end felt more like he was in a place with a desire for some sort of release: to start over, start life again in a way, find out who he is again on his own and leave all this behind. Yes, it all happened, but at some point, you gotta own your mistakes, what happened and try to start over. That’s where I felt like the character was at the end of ‘Avengers: Endgame’. It’s also what he wanted for Steve. Like anybody that ends up traumatized by a war experience, he was affected by it for the rest of his life. So, what felt like a desire there was for a restart — for him and for Steve in a way. It didn’t necessarily feel like the shield was gonna be that. Steve going back in time and saying, “I’m gonna take something for me now. I’ve been here for all these guys, and I’ve done the best I could. I’m just a man, and I’m going to go back and try to live my life.” I feel that is something that Bucky would want for his best friend, and at the same time, Steve is saying to Bucky, “You’re going to go and do that, too. I’m not going to put this thing on you. We’re both going to live our lives — the lives that were actually taken from us back in the ‘40s when we enlisted.” So, that’s where I felt they were at the end of the movie. I don’t think there’s a desire or any conflicted thoughts about taking on that mantle. Sam, to me, was always the clear man to take on that mantle for numerous reasons, which also comes with so much more baggage that’s going to be explored in the show. I guess you’ll have to tune into Disney+ to find out why. (Laughs.) At the end of Endgame, for either Steve or Bucky, it’s really not about the shield.
I really loved ‘Destroyer’, and I thought you were great in it. It continues to blow my mind that Karyn Kusama isn’t able to do whatever she wants. Granted, she just got Universal’s Dracula…
I already emailed her about that. I said, “You know I’m from Romania, right?” and she goes, “Yes, yes, it’s very early — and there’s a pandemic. Hopefully, we’ll see you in four years.” (Laughs.)
What comes to mind when you reflect on that experience and working with Karyn?
Thank you for mentioning that movie. I love that movie, I love her and I had such a great time on it. I would love to keep finding projects with her — projects that kind of push you in a different direction. Again, this goes back to your earlier questions about these smaller movies, and I was referencing the vision of a director, how important that is and sometimes surrendering to that. That’s what that movie was for me. Karyn saw this character and movie in a certain way, and it was my job to learn that world, the tone and fit into it. I loved her as a director because she was so specific with me from the get-go. She also really allowed me to discover it on my own. We talked about the tattoos, the look, his history… It was very collaborative before we started, and then, when we started, it was actually very specific. She was one of those directors that made me feel so safe and confident in my choices, simply by the way she communicated with me. I think that came from her absolute confidence in what she wanted and what she saw. I really wish more people had seen that movie. Maybe they have by now; I don’t know. And obviously — Nicole Kidman. It was one of those dreams to work opposite her. It was a good package.
‘Endings, Beginnings’ is now available on digital HD and VOD on May 1.
Variety — Every night at 7 p.m., Sebastian Stan peers outside the window of his Manhattan apartment and cheers. It’s become a nightly ritual for most New Yorkers to honor doctors, nurses and other essential workers who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.
“It was crazy the other day,” Stan tells Variety. “There was a woman on the street; it broke my heart almost. She started playing ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra, just blasting it out loud. And everybody was just like, ‘We ain’t going down, baby. No matter what.’”
Stan knows, better than most, what it means to be a New Yorker. Early in his career, the now 37-year-old actor had a reoccurring part on ‘Gossip Girl,’ which shot throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn and has cameos from notable restaurants and clubs. But Stan’s career really took off after he played Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky Barnes in ‘Captain America.‘ The notoriety from the Marvel Cinematic Universal has afforded him chances to take risks on independent films ranging from ‘Destroyer’ to ‘I, Tonya.’
Stan’s latest movie, ‘Endings, Beginnings,’ is now available to watch in homes after premiering at last fall’s Toronto Film Festival. In the drama, directed by Drake Doremus, Stan plays Frank, who meets a woman at a party (Shailene Woodley) that both he and his best friend (Jamie Dornan) start to romantically pursue.
Over an Instagram live conversation with Variety, Stan spoke about making ‘Endings, Beginnings,’ through improvisation, when he might return to the Marvel Universe and why he never wore a belt on ‘Gossip Girl.’
Can you talk about working with Drake Doremus. There’s no script when you sign on for one of his films, right?
Right. There’s only an outline, which is about 70 pages and it’s sort of like a general, loose direction of where he wants the story to go. Everything is discovered in the moment on the day. A lot of what you’re going to see in the movie is improvised. One of the things he’s such a master at is being able to take all these moments and piece it together into a performance. I have no idea how he edited it all together.
You and Jamie Dornan play—
… who are both vying for Shailene Woodley.
Yes, we are good friends in the movie and our friendship is tested when we meet Shailene. It’s a very honest movie about how confusing relationships are sometimes and really how messy they are in terms of a beginning, middle and end. Things don’t just always close. One thing I’ve love about Drake’s movies, especially ‘Like Crazy’ and ‘Newness,’ is the vulnerability and intimacy that he seems to capture, the authenticity of the connections between people.
Jamie told me he wanted to play the nicer guy, and that you picked the bad guy, because that’s more fun.
I would have played either role. Drake put me in that role. I was just happy to be part of the movie, it didn’t matter what he was going to choose. I think the way it was cast was the right way.
How do you prepare for a scene knowing you’re going to improvise most of your dialogue?
It’s definitely scary because you’re like, “How interesting of a person am I?” When you [normally] have a scene, you have lines, you have protection. But we had a direction. A lot of it comes from the dynamic you build in rehearsal. And being open with each other. Shailene, acting opposite her, it was total vulnerability, total honesty. It’s a lot easier when someone opposite you is giving their all.
Were their moments that you improvised that made you cringe?
Every scene made me very upset. Every scene made me question why I’m doing this. And why my relationships haven’t really worked. No! It’s a very exposing process. There are takes that we probably shot for 20 minutes straight without cutting and we would go all over the place. You go home and wonder if any of it is good. But it’s kind of nice because it gets you out of your head; it gets you out of your comfort zone. You just show up tomorrow and all you’re trying to do is be as present as possible and available to any accidents that might happen.
How do you feel about people watching ‘Endings, Beginnings’ in their homes?
If we could, I wish we would have had different circumstances for the movie. I think it’s so beautifully shot — every frame, every single angle. I’m also grateful it can be watched now. This is a crazy time. It’s a testing time. If people are at home and they want to tune into something else for two hours that makes them think about something else, then why not?
How have you been passing the time in self-isolation?
Talking to myself. By the way I’m in New York. We’re 10 minutes away from 7 p.m., baby. That’s the moment of the day — for people who don’t know — at 7 p.m., people go out to their windows and they start clapping for all the workers and everybody when their shift changes. It hits home, because everybody is on the same page. No matter where you are, no matter what apartment you‘re in, we’re all connected for that moment. There’s something very special about that. It’s about those people who hardly ever get any kind of notice for their work. I don’t know how it is for you. For me, I try to do something productive every day. I’ve got some writing that I’m doing and some reading. I haven’t been home in a long time. It’s been nice to be home and finally hunker down. And then I just think about all the things I’ve taken for granted, and how nice it is that we’re so lucky to be able to do the things that we do in our life. I just hope when we come out of this, we don’t blow through that. That we maybe learn to take each other in a little bit better. The fact that we can be so close and you could touch somebody, you can hug your mother whenever you want and go over there and be close to them.
In New York, it’s hard because we all live in a concentrated space. Even going for a walk, there are too many people outside who aren’t wearing a mask or respecting social distancing.
I think we have that problem everywhere, not just in New York. What sucks about it is all it’s going to do is make everything longer. Yeah, it’s a nice day out — and you’ve got to take care of your mental health, too. If you want to go for a walk, there’s times you can go for a walk, like really early where it’s empty. But this isn’t the time to be going and having a picnic in the f—ing park, which is still happening.
I wanted to ask you about your career trajectory, because you’ve taken some risks in the last few years. You starred in the ‘Avengers’ franchise, but you’ve also done some great work in independent movies, including ‘Destroyer’ and ‘I, Tonya.’ How do you choose what you want to do?
I think it’s all about a character or the directors. I’m just trying to surround myself with people I admire who I like to think are a lot better than me. And by that, by default, I’m going to end up learning. A lot of those choices are based on finding directors who have a very specific vision and honoring that vision. I don’t think movies, even TV, is not really an actors’ medium. It belongs to the writers and the directors. I’m just trying to do things that are interesting to me and kind of make me scared and keep me on my toes, because I’m a very bad self-critic. If I feel like I’m leaning too much into my Sebastian-isms, I get critical about that. I try to mix it up.
How did starring in ‘The Avengers’ franchise change your career?
Well, it was huge. It was 10 years ago, in 2010, when I came in. Looking back, I feel like I had half the amount of experience and knowledge that I do now. In a way, I felt like I grew up with the franchise as a person myself and I feel like that character grew up with me as well. But I don’t think any of these movies that you referenced would have been possible without it. I wouldn’t be here without it.
How did feel to have ‘Avengers: Endgame’ become the most successful movie of all time?
That’s just wild. You don’t even think about that. It’s crazy to think it’s bigger than “Titanic.” I went to see “Titanic” way too many times in the theater. It’s exciting, because 10 years worth of filmmaking went into making [“Avengers: Endgame”]. The fact that people went out to see it and support it so much only shows how much they love the characters, how much they’ve invested in the past 10 years. And they feel like in a way they grew up with the movie.
Is there anything you can tell us with your involvement of the future ‘Avengers‘ movies?
You know, I know nothing about that. I’m just a man. [Laughs.] We got to figure out a couple other missions first before we even get there. I’ve got to deal with this other person. It’s been nice to have a break from him, Anthony Mackie. It’s nice to have a little quiet in this quarantine without him. But we got to figure out some adventures together first before we get there
Our social media editor Meg Zukin wanted me to ask you if you had any insight into what’s happening to your character Carter Baizen on the ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot.
The old Carter Baizen, he’s still out there on the island of Maui or something — who knows. I can’t believe we’re having a reboot. It’s kind of cool. It’s kind of crazy. It kind of reminds me of how old I am. That wasn’t even that long ago.
It doesn’t feel that long ago.
It was 2008. It was like a different world. But it was a great job, like I was so happy being a part of it. I was in New York. I was working with my friends. And also, that show was at that moment. Everybody was talking about it. I remember going into the fittings and being told, “You’re never wearing a belt again from a fashion standpoint.” I was like, “OK.” So I never wore a belt again.
Why weren’t you allowed to wear a belt?
In terms of ‘Gossip Girl’ fashion, I think that set a couple of trends. I don’t know if I remember them entirely. But with men, I remember that. Don’t wear belts. Just watch. There’s not a belt on that show.
Sirius XM – ‘Endings, Beginnings’ – In present day Los Angeles, Daphne (Woodley), a thirty something woman, navigates love and heartbreak over the course of one year. Daphne becomes intertwined with friends Jack (Dornan) and Frank (Stan) after meeting them at a party. During that time, she will unlock the secrets to her life in a sudden turn of events and in the most surprising of places. ‘Endings, Beginnings’ is now on digital, VOD May 1.
Sebastian Stan discusses ‘Endings, Beginnings’, ‘Destroyer’ & ‘The Bronze’ on Sirius XM’s The Jess Cagle Show. Click below to listen.
Sebastian stopped by AOL Build Series in New York on January 21st to talk about his film Destroyer. You can check out high quality photos, screen captures and video of the interview below in case you missed it.
ScreenRant.com — We spoke with Stan about his role in Destroyer and how he plays an influential role in Erin’s past, while also threading into the emotional chaos of her present. He revealed what sort of one-on-one research he conducted with real-life undercover detectives to prepare for the role, what it was like working alongside Nicole Kidman, and even how his character differs from – but also relates to – Bucky Barnes in the MCU.
What sort of research is necessary to get into the mind of someone like Chris? Were there any real-life undercover stories that stood out before filming? Or did you prefer to rely more on Karyn’s direction and the script?
Yeah, it seems like everyone in Destroyer is kind of at odds with their identity in some way.
That’s what I loved about the script. I loved that everybody is sort of teetering on the edge of being a good or a bad person, per se; or being thrown in situations where they have to make decisions that are not likable or- and that’s very human to me. That’s what I love about her [Kidman’s] character. We’re seeing a female character that… you know, meeting situations in life, and doing the best that she can, but is still the character that she is; the circumstances of one’s life, what shapes them to be what they are – and how much of that can you let go of or how much of that can you accept or not accept. The demons can grab any kind of person, no matter what they are or where they come from.
Now, if you don’t mind me touching on this a little bit, you obviously play another character who famously struggles with his identity. Bucky Barnes. Did you notice any overlap in how you would approach Bucky’s struggle with identity versus how you approached Chris’?
Kind of just came at it from the same-
[Laughs] No, man. Of course not. Listen, I love Bucky Barnes. I really do. It’s just a very separate entity in a way. For me it is. And I certainly treat it that way. The characters, to me, are very different in terms of kind of the emotional baggage that they carry, per se, or what their emotional intelligence is. Now, you can make some parallels about identity, and a search for questions of identity; wanting to lose oneself or embrace certain aspects of yourself. Maybe that’s something the characters have in common. But, essentially, I was always thought it was a different situation.
BusinessInsider.com — Business Insider talked to Stan about that, the steps he took to get in the role for “Destroyer,” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
Jason Guerrasio: Were you as shocked to see how Nicole looks in the present day “Destroyer” footage as we were when that still of the movie came out?
Sebastian Stan: Yeah. I didn’t have any scenes where she transformed. I didn’t experience that firsthand. I only saw that photo once on the internet. It’s really impressive. You are always inspired by those things. And now that we are doing press it’s fascinating to listen to Nicole talk about her process and finding her way into the character. The whole thing to me is a science project. Not one choice wasn’t well thought out. Those are my favorite kind of roles, when you can see someone extremely recognizable and you lose them in the role.
Guerrasio: Well, how was your process for this? You also had to get into a certain mindset.
Stan: On a much smaller scale than her, but it was a little similar. The great thing about the script is it didn’t spell out who these people were. It didn’t tell you much about where they came from or what their lives were outside of the job. So it allowed me to build a whole backstory on my own based on what the guy was doing in the story. Figuring out what kind of guy would lose himself in this scenario.
Guerrasio: Does that include going back and watching old cop movies?
Stan: On something like this you get a good excuse to go back and revisit projects that are inspiring. And I also met with an FBI agent in New York who is a family friend and was able to go through the script with him. That was really helpful because I really wanted to understand what it takes to become an undercover agent and what sort of training you would need. A lot of these guys sometimes have military training, other times they have training on the street. That was one of the decisions I was making with my guy. Ultimately he’s somebody who is more at home while on the job rather than his real life. That’s how it appeared to me. So I kind of created this backstory that he had a bad history with the law when he was younger and then wanting more structure in his life decided to join this line of work using his experience from his past. [“Destroyer” director] Karyn [Kusama] suggested I shave my head and we talked about the tattoos and finding a look for the guy. That was exciting, too.
Guerrasio: How you all play off each other in this movie is one of the thrills. Do things get competitive on set between actors on a movie as intense as this? Will seeing an actor really bringing it across from you make you pick up your game?
Stan: It happens on set. It happens in a way that can be healthy for the movie, and it can also happen in a way that’s not healthy for the movie. We did not have that on this. And I think it’s because you have good actors. This cast, the work speaks for itself. But when it’s an intense scene some of us may keep our distance, but that’s a level of respect. You’re always coming from a level of honoring the other person and their process.
Guerrasio: This is the kind of story that’s not told in movie form anymore. These crime thrillers are more and more finding their way to TV. So how bad did you want this role because on the movie side it’s becoming more rare to do.
Stan: I wanted it very badly. I had done “I, Tonya,” and that was a great experience and I loved every minute of it. I wanted to find a collaborative effort similar to that. But I really thought I wasn’t going to find it. Then I found it with this. I wanted to be a part of it because I respected Karyn and Nicole and I just knew this was going to be a very specific movie.
Guerrasio: You’ve done some great supporting roles, are you gunning for lead actor parts?
Stan: Always. There were a couple of things that almost came my way that would have been great. The opportunity is there. I’m much more interested right now in working with a great director and on a great script and that’s been a priority for me. But I’m looking all the time. Down the line I want to be remembered for being a part of specific works and visions of directors rather than a group of characters. I’m still figuring that out.
Guerrasio: Have to throw out some Bucky questions before I go. (Note: This interview was conducted before the “Avengers: Endgame” trailer was released.) Have you wrapped all your stuff on “Avengers 4”?
Stan: I haven’t worked on anything since two years ago, so no. My character died in the last film. [laughs]
Guerrasio: Ok? How about this one: Are the reports true that you and Anthony Mackie are going to team up for a Winter Soldier/Falcon limited series on Disney+?
Stan: Anthony Mackie and I are going to try to revive “Beverly Hills Cop.” We’re trying to get Eddie Murphy, but he’s not calling us back. It’s been difficult, but hey, you have to keep trying, right?
Guerrasio: I’m getting nowhere with you, am I?
ETOnline.com — “At some point, I’ve got to ask you about some of your guilty pleasures out there,” Sebastian Stan says off-hand to his Destroyer director, Karyn Kusama. “Because in my head, I feel like you’re watching, like, super f–king amazing horror projects…”
Though Kusama may be best known for her own horror films, including the “really disturbing in a great way” (as Stan put it) The Invitation and the campy Megan Fox cult classic Jennifer’s Body, her tastes are hardly confined to the genre; one of her early films was the Charlize Theron sci-fi spy action flick Æon Flux. “I don’t have guilty pleasures,” she shrugs. “I think Point Break is a masterpiece. I legitimately think it’s a masterpiece.” In fact, her latest film is most like the latter, a pulpy detective drama about LAPD officer Erin Bell (a bewigged Nicole Kidman), who goes undercover to investigate a gang of bank robbers with her partner, Chris (Stan).
(For his part, on the topic of guilty pleasures, Stan shared, “I was working out today and because of this thing with a Boston accent that I’ve been looking up, I ended up watching the Housewives of Boston and I was like, Oh, my God, this is so insane!“) (I pointed out there is no Real Housewives of Boston.)
With Destroyer opening in select theaters on Christmas Day, Kusama and Stan sat down with ET to discuss leaving their comfort zones, what it took to make Kidman look like a meth addict and how hot Stan looks covered in tattoos.
ET: Karyn, you’ve worked in so many different genres — you did sci-fi early on and then moved into horror and television. This feels like something new. What was it about this story that called out to you?
Karyn Kusama: A couple of things. Practically, I was excited to make a movie in L.A., which is my home and I have a family here and I collaborate with my husband, who was one of the writers of the script. I have a dog! [Laughs.] I felt like it was a nice way to be committing to working in my hometown — which a lot of that TV that you mentioned doesn’t allow me to do. I was [also] really drawn to this labyrinthine journey that this very compelling character makes, where we discover her capacity for love, her capacity to make huge mistakes that haunt her for the rest of her life and her capacity to take some responsibility for those mistakes. In today’s times, that’s an interesting thing to watch a person decide to do.
What put this guy [Stan] on your radar?
Sebastian Stan:Our agents.
KK: Our agents, but also, you have a lot of nice friends.
SS: Oh, good!
KK: No, but you do. You have a lot of nice friends that I think are nice people and good actors, so when your name came up, I’d be like, “Oh, that’s cool.” And then I watched I, Tonya, and I felt like, that’s so interesting to see a guy who in real life, frankly, has a leading man vibe and leading man looks — in a great way, not holding it against you. You’re a very handsome dude — but to see you play a character who was capable of so much smallness and shame and ugliness, I just thought, “My God, that takes bravery.” After our first Skype session, I was like, let’s just figure out how we’re going to work together.
Had you read the script by then?
SS: I had read the script and then we had a Skype session about it. I just love that it felt like you were never really figuring out entirely what was happening or who these people were. It didn’t explain anything, it just kind of–
KK: Put you in their lives.
SS: Yeah, and you’re there as a witness and it’s as if you’re walking by and you’re turning and you’re seeing that scene happen. That felt very real to me. I always feel like, as an actor, you’re always looking in the writing for rhythms, and those scenes were written a certain way. It’s a very direct, frank nature that they have with each other, at least in the scenes that I was involved with Nicole. And I was like, here’s an opportunity to play a completely different character by not doing anything. By almost just letting–
KK: By not indicating anything about the character. By just being, they told so much story.
SS: Exactly. And I just knew it was going to be a very special movie. The idea of protagonist and antagonist was always flipped around here, and I think that in life, good people do bad things and bad people sometimes end up doing a good thing for that moment, or whatever. This movie was so straightforward about that. And to have a female character that had no excuse for anything in a way that didn’t apologize but also, you understood where she was coming from, because all the flaws were so… Nobody shied away from any of that. And then you get Nicole to do it and then you’re like, “All right, well, now it’s going to be a whole other thing!” [Laughs.] Continue reading
IndieWire.com — Nearly a decade into his turn as Marvel’s Bucky Barnes — otherwise known as The Winter Soldier — actor Sebastian Stan is busier than ever, but not with the kind of safe commercial bets that other franchise players might be pursuing. A year after taking on the risky role of former criminal and national laughingstock Jeff Gillooly in Craig Gillespie’s Oscar-winning “I, Tonya,” Stan is still chasing unconventional supporting roles in smaller features.
In Karyn Kusama’s “Destroyer,” he acts opposite Nicole Kidman as an undercover police officer helping Kidman’s no-nonsense detective through a dangerous mission that destroys her life. It’s a tricky r ole for any actor to hold their own opposite a proven movie star in dark, moody thriller, but Stan said that “I, Tonya” opened him up to embrace that sort of challenge.
“It was definitely a transformative year for me, in terms of what I want,” Stan said in an interview, and he credited “I, Tonya” with shifting his priorities. “It kind of set the bar for me in what I wanted going forward.”
The rest of his current schedule speaks to the actor’s interest in peering beyond the commercial realm: He starred in Stacie Passon’s Shirley Jackson adaptation “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” which debuted at LAFF earlier this year, and he recently wrapped roles in Todd Robinson’s true-life war drama “The Last Full Measure” and Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ romantic drama “Monday.”
After years of working in franchise mode, “I, Tonya” opened the actor up to exploring these opportunities. “It led me to want to look for that again, to find more things that scare me, and that are challenging,” he said. “I came out of that movie feeling like, ‘I don’t know how I’m gonna find the situation again.’ I was really wanting to find that again, and lo and behold, I actually did.”
However, “Destroyer” nearly slipped beyond his grasp. Stan originally met with Kusama to discuss the role of cult leader Silas, played in the film by Toby Kebbell, though he had some initial reservations about taking on another dark role. “I was actually concerned, after ‘I, Tonya,’ because I was like, ‘God, this is gonna be another really dark, dark role, I don’t know if I can sort just get into that again,’” he said.
He wanted to work with Kusama and Kidman, but walked away from the meeting wondering if the role was a fit, and even made his own audition tape as the character to further feel it out.
“I put a scene on my iPhone, and I sent it to her,” he said. “I said, ‘Hey, look, I just got inspired, and I want you to check this out, and you let me know what you think, obviously, you know, whatever you feel is best.’” Weeks went by without an update and Stan figured he didn’t make the cut. In October 2017, Kusama finally called. “She said, ‘You know, I loved your tape, but actually I feel like you’d be better in this role, the other role,’” he said.
As a choosy performer who takes his time pursuing various roles, Stan admits he wasn’t immediately comfortable with Marvel superstardom.
“I don’t think it came naturally to me,” Stan said of his ease with his fans and fame. “Even if you look back a few years ago, I remember doing interviews and just being so scared and just trying to take it all in. I feel like I’ve learned a way to sort of embrace it.” He added with a laugh, “You can see it, if you go on YouTube.” (Admittedly, in some of Stan’s earliest video interviews for “Captain America: First Avenger,” he looks ready to jump out of his skin.)
These days, he appears more comfortable with the role. His Instagram account is filled with pictures and videos of him interacting with fans, and happily so. He’s a vocal supporter of the charity Our Big Day Out, which aims to provide shelter and a better way of life for children in Stan’s home country Romania. It’s raised thousands of dollars over the years, with big pushes often spearheaded by the actor’s fans in honor of the star.
He’s understandably tight-lipped about what to expect from future Marvel movies (he’s credited on the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame,” but isn’t entirely sure what stuff he filmed will be in the final cut). But he’s quick to talk about his latest projects, including an untitled romance directed by Drake Doremus, which allowed him to stretch his improv muscles. As for other genres he’d like to explore, he’s interested in doing a period piece like “Game of Thrones,” something that would let him play around with “a great accent.”
And he’s not saying no to more big films, though it’s the smaller ones that seem most top of mind.
“Look, I would never necessarily say no to a lead in a franchise,” he said. “I love all movies, so I’m game. … I think I’ve been so lucky to have this Marvel universe to go back to. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in 10 years. They’ve given me so many opportunities, and one of the opportunities that they’ve given me is a chance to go out there and find something that’s gonna stretch me in some way, and challenge me in a way that’s gonna be different. … I mean, how much better than that can it get?”
TheMarySue.com — While the movie focuses on Erin and her past and present, Chris plays an important role in how Erin exists in the modern day. He’s only in the movie for maybe ten minutes, but his role is so important to the Erin we meet later in her life, and his presence is felt throughout the film thanks to his performance:
“Thankfully, Sebastian brought so much intelligence and complexity and genuine tenderness to the role so you really felt, by that last scene, that he is so desperately in love with her and that he’s going to do something so foolish in service to those feelings.”
Erin and Chris are head over heels in love (and continually high on drugs as they get further into their undercover mission), but there are aspects of their characters that reach into the audience and make us care for them both:
“He (Sebastian Stan) brought a lot of layers to it that just told us that these guys were not ready for what happened, and Sebastian is just such a lovely guy that there is something about him and Nicole. It was so instant that I was like, ‘We’re going to be okay.’ I feel like the chemistry between them is very real and genuine and, I don’t know, just truly emotionally connected. And I know that, in some respects, the audience isn’t sure, initially—when we discover that they really are a couple—we’re not sure what’s really driving that, but by the end, to learn that they are crazy about each other, it makes it heartbreaking.”
Their love is told in a way that brings a contrast to the film, separating the two sides of Erin’s story, and it’s important to uphold the significance of her relationship with Chris:
“She opens herself up to him, and in doing so immediately ensnares him in a plan that’s so wrong-headed, and she lives with that for the rest of her life.”