If you’re not familiar with the Winter Soldier from Marvel Comics, who now functions as the primary super-villain in the new Captain America movie, there are two things you need to know. One – his identity is a bit of a spoiler to non-comics readers. Two – Marvel doesn’t really care about keeping it a secret, so if you want to remain unspoiled, as comic readers were originally, it might be best to avoid all movie clips and so on from here on out. You might even want to avoid sites like imdb that might reveal what characters actor Sebastian Stan has played previously.
But if you already know, the following conversation might be a fun one to read.
Luke Y: Thompson: How are you doing today?
Sebastian Stan: I’m doing well, thanks.
LYT: As a stage-trained actor, what’s the transition like to being so purely physical in a role where you can’t even see your eyes half of the movie?
SS: Well, actually, I never even thought about it, now that you’re asking. Actually, coming from the stage is a very helpful thing, because on stage, being physical is a major thing, because you don’t have the close-up.
SS: So you’ve got to kind of be very conscious of your body and your movements for the people that are all the way on the top in the very end seats. And so I was very body-conscious in this movie, and it was largely a lot of what I had to work with in terms of being able to convey certain feelings to the audience, so it helped.
And then also, on stage, you’re just doing the same thing over and over again for so many different nights, so once you kind of survive that, then you sort of have a little bit of feeling that you can survive anything.
LYT: Is it a challenge not to have dialogue?
SS: Sure, it is a challenge, because dialogue is a little bit easier to communicate certain things. But sometimes it’s a blessing, also.
LYT: When you got the role in the first Captain America, obviously the Marvel movie system is kind of a juggernaut already. Were you just going, “Please do Winter Soldier next! Please do Winter Soldier Next! I want to be Winter Soldier,”?
SS: Absolutely. Without a doubt.
LYT: So you were a big comic book fan before?
SS: Umm, well, I didn’t grow up with comic books. I didn’t know them, you know what I mean? I got to know them and I started to appreciate them in about 2009, 2010, when I got the first movie. But I didn’t know them very well growing up. I didn’t grow up with them.
LYT: Do you feel like you can add to this character, kind of the Eastern European tenure a little bit [Stan grew up in Romania]?
SS: Ha, ha, ha! I always just thought it was a really funny coincidence or something, if there are coincidences in the world, that I came from a country that once embraced the red star, and then I suddenly was acting a character with a red star on his left shoulder, so it was a very funny coincidence in my mind.
LYT: I always think of it sort of metaphorically, like Bucky’s the enthusiastic kid, and then he becomes the brooding adolescent writ large, throwing temper tantrums.
SS: Yeah, except these are like adult temper tantrums, aren’t they?
LYT: When you’re doing the scenes with Steve Rogers before he’s bulked up – how does that work? Is Chris down on his knees? Is it someone shorter with a CGI head pasted on?
SS: Yeah, well, it’s almost like we get two passes – I actually get two passes at it. I do it with him, and then I do it with somebody else, who is that size, that small. So it’s a bit technical, but we’ve done so much of that in the first movie, it was pretty easy this time around.
LYT: Without – obviously I don’t want to spoil too much for the viewers, but there is more that could be done with the Winter Soldier after this movie. Do you know – is that going to happen in Age of Ultron, or is that being left to a future Captain America movie?
SS: As of right now, I don’t believe I’m involved with the Age of Ultron. That I can definitely say. As for the latter, listen: I don’t know. We’re just literally now putting this movie out there. You know how the story goes in the comic books. There’s a lot there to be covered still, and I’m equally interested to see where the guys are going to take it next. As far as I’m concerned, we just scratched the tip of the iceberg.
LYT: Was the metal arm entirely practical, or was it digitally enhanced?
SS: The metal arm was about 95% practical. And it was about 5% CGI. The only pieces of it really were the elbow, around the elbow area, because I needed – I couldn’t have – I needed the flexibility of moving my arm. So that’s where the CGI kind of covered it up.
LYT: Is the preparation for the character very different in this? It’s almost like he has a whole new back story, that’s like 50 years’ worth in this one.
SS: Well, it was a lot. It was a lot to cover, you know, and this movie only sort of touched on a very specific few things, so I couldn’t really – I had to just work on the stuff that was necessary for this film. But I just – I was just, for me, two key things in the film were that this has got to be a realistic, violent threat to Captain America – a real opponent, so what does that mean? How is he going to be a real opponent? This is from an actor’s perspective. And then also that he’s got to – as an audience, you’ve got to recognize him a little bit, to some extent.
LYT: Was the physical training different for this one than the last one?
SS: Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah. I didn’t have to do much training for the last one. This was a six, seven month sort of head start, in terms of diet, physical training, and then fight training closer to the shooting date. I mean, it went on for a while.
LYT: Is it cool to have toys of you now?
SS: [chuckles]I don’t – your brain doesn’t naturally go that far. I don’t think about that. But yeah, now that you mention it, it’s a very cool thing.
LYT: Did they digitally scan you for the toys?
SS: I believe they did, yeah – I think so.
LYT: What’s that whole process like? Do you remember it at all?
SS: I don’t. We did so many of those. I’m not sure where it fit in. But it’s a little bizarre. It’s like a 360 machine. Getting every little angle of your face, every wrinkle and everything.
LYT: To get the role originally, was it just a standard audition process, or did they specifically have you in mind?
SS: I auditioned for Steve Rogers, I think, I want to say 3 or 4 times, and didn’t get it. And then I was called in and I sat down with Marvel and discussed Bucky Barnes for the first time.
LYT: At that point, were you familiar with the character?
SS: No. Not at all. Nothing. Because I actually didn’t want to read any of the comic books, even for my auditions for Steve Rogers. I didn’t know how much the script was going to be similar to that. I originally knew Captain America, of course – I knew the name and very vague things, but i didn’t know anything else.
LYT: Back in the day, a lot of people used to worry about being typecast as super heroes, and this has been sort of your most defining role to date, I guess.
LYT: It doesn’t seem to bother people as much anymore. Is it something you worry about, or is it just that it’s awesome that you get to be this iconic character?
SS: Look, you know, we’re in a different time now, than I think the time that a lot of those people that thought that way about super heroes grew up and became actors. It’s an entire different time now. I happen to enjoy these movies. I happen to like these movies. I like doing all the action sequences that I did. I like this character. I’m OK with it. I don’t think about it, because I enjoy it. Listen – maybe one day a script is going to come along about some Mormon tribe or something. I don’t know, it’s just always about if you’re having fun and you really like the character, then you should be doing it.
LYT: Can you tell me how many Marvel movies you’re contracted to do?
LYT: That’s an impressive contract!
SS: Yeah, that’s -only recently someone asked me that, and I remembered. I believe that’s right.
LYT: What’s coming up next for you?
SS: Well, it depends. I’m excited for this movie to come out, and I have to kind of wait and see April 4th, about certain things.
LYT: I don’t think there’s much doubt as to the success of this film.
SS: Oh, there you go!