Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the set of Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, along with a small group of journalists. We’re finally able to bring you an account of our on-set experiences, along with interviews from the cast and crew that tease the amazing action and intrigue that’s sure to come. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s sequel stars Chris Evans as Captain America, but this interview is all about Sebastian Stan, starring the other title role.
While on set, Sebastian Stan talked about the moment he realized he’d be playing the Winter Soldier, getting used to the costume, playing two very different versions of Bucky Barnes in both movies, his character’s relationship with Steve Rogers, physical conditioning and much more. Hit the jump for the interview.
Question: So, I’m sure at the Captain America junket you got asked plenty of times if you’d ever be playing the Winter Soldier. How early did you actually know that this was going to be in your future?
Sebastian Stan: Well, I think in my brain I knew, or I hoped I knew a long, long time ago, but I didn’t really know until about a year ago to be quite honest. Yeah.
Were you excited? I mean, because like he was saying, we all kind of…fans were all hoping they’d go there, but they didn’t go there so quickly, because they might’ve waited a couple movies, you know?
Stan: Well, that was the whole thing. I had no idea, you know? I had no idea that…I mean, it obviously came up in discussions very early on when I got involved, and that was part of the excitement for me. And actually now, looking back, I should’ve sort of asked myself whether I could’ve known in any way, shape, or form, but it really is one of the more interesting storylines that Steve Rogers has. So, it actually does make sense to want to take it to that level, especially the way that the whole MCU is moving anyway.
So now you can tell us what they were doing to you on that torture chair in the first movie, right?
Stan: I mean, I think…yeah. Looking back, that was probably a very smart setup in their situation to kind of suggest that it could’ve been tied to this. I wish I knew when we were shooting it that that was what was happening, [laughter] but I think…yeah. I mean, I think that makes more sense to look back at that scene and kind of sort of think that it had something to do with breaking the fall, I suppose.
Did you have a game plan as far as bridging between Bucky and The Winter Soldier in a way that movie audiences will really get what this is?
Stan: I hope so. Yeah. I mean, that was always the plan, you know? I mean, even in the first one, for me, I feel like sort of knowing ahead where it was potentially going to go, I was always trying to, even back then, see what I can possibly layer in to…sort of, that one day if someone does look at this movie and then kind of goes back and looks at that, they can sort of maybe spot something and then just go, “Oh, I see that that guy had potential to…” I mean, Bucky to me was always interesting because he was a little bit more…he stood out more clearly in terms of someone who, you know, had flaws. And though he was extremely loyal, and very caretaking, and there were a lot of endearing qualities about him that there were other things that…like, any muscle that you work out too much could sort of take over the rest. So, there were other things about him I always thought that, you know…I was hoping you could see in that first movie that if they sort of amplified that, that he could become something dangerous, necessarily so.
The original Winter Story arc flashbacks to Bucky and Cap adventures a little bit here and there. Does this film allow you to do that? Kind of go back into Bucky territory again, or was it all present day going forward?
Stan: I think it was important that the movie was going to stick to present day. I think we sort of arrived at that, and we wanted, you know…I think that’s what it called for, but there is a level of reminding everybody in terms of reinstating those things to sort of…so that you really do remember what that relationship was.
Right. Right. Obviously, you’re sporting a completely different book for this film. I mean, what was your initial reaction to it? How’s it been, kind of, wearing that new costume?
Stan: “Oh God. What will it look like?” [laughter] I was very open to it, you know? I was very…obviously I’ve never had long hair, I mean…but as an actor, the thing is that you got to get out of that comfortability level once in a while, and I was really excited to sort of not recognize a little bit myself when I looked in the mirror, and between the costume and sort of the overall look of The Winter Soldier, it was nice. Then all the credit really goes to Legacy and the costume team who’ve done, I think, a pretty incredible job in terms of just, you know, going from page to reality, which is obviously really hard to do sometimes with certain characters that look really cool when they’re drawn and then, how do you make them look that way in real life? So it was…I think there was no question that whatever was needed to make him as authentic as possible is where I was at with it.
Did they make the arm…does it hinder you at all when you were doing some the action stuff? I don’t know if they made it like…
Stan: No. Actually, I was always worried about that, but no. It actually kind of informed, in a way, a lot of character stuff for me, because I had enough time to sort of work with it. I think it sort of changed the way I was moving, and it was one of those things where you know, I sat and I thought, and thought, and thought about what it was going to be like on the day, but until you just sort of get into it completely, until it was just on and everything, then that discovery kind of came to light, and it was really neat because I felt like…it just was like the missing piece, and then I was really informed kind of where to go with it.
Interesting for you and Chris, you know, because you created the rapport between your characters in the first movie to not only play a very different side of the relationship here, but also to have the modern day setting, you know? Does kind of feel surreal to have created these characters in the World War II setting and now to play out the continuation?
Stan: It’s just a neat thing. I mean, you know, it’s just a really cool sort of thing. The World War II aspect is, you get to research the music, and the way people talked, and the way they behaved, and the way they dressed, and what their hobbies were. You get to sort of day dream about what these guys might’ve done on a Friday night, and there’s something very sort of like romantic about the way women dressed back then and all that, and it’s cool. You take that, and you bring those…well for him, essentially, bring those…person from that time into the world of today, and there’s a lot of sides to that. There’s a lot of comedy to that because it’s part of sort of having to get to know everything all over again. For the first time, rather. There’s, like, a lot of endearing sides to that. To having someone with such an old mentality yet still very fresh in the world that we know today. Winter might not be there just yet.
How challenging was the physical regimen to be able to train him the way he is now?
Stan: I mean, maybe I walked around the house a little bit with like, a plastic knife in my left hand all the time. There might’ve been some of that, but it’s all in terms of just…the thing for me was, you know, flexibility was kind of like the key factor I think that I was trying to be very mindful of, and obviously that there was so many pieces to the costume and everything. Being able to continue to move freely, and especially the way the team, you know, wanted to take the fighting style of this particular movie and the direction that they wanted to go, it was…yeah.
It was important to be flexible and in shape, at least just in terms of a confidence that you can step on set and be comfortable with what you’re doing and…but a lot of it also just has to…a lot of it is just kind of remembering what it was like when you were a kid and when you’re being able to imagine, and go off on it and be free with that, and so that was like, part of the fun with it. I mean, I don’t know how else to explain it. That tends to be a challenge in itself because, you know, you sometimes take things so seriously, and you want to sort of be in the best of this, in the best of shape, the best of that, but at the end of the day, you got to remember to have fun, and if you just kind of like allow yourself to do that, you kind of just somehow end up doing everything better.
Stan: Yeah. There’s definitely a few things. I think I fired some stuff where things got in my eyes and I ended up having, like, particularly in my left eye for a second, I popped a blood vessel, which at first I thought I was, like, going to…I really freaked out about, but then I realized it was like…started kind of dissolving and then became this cool thing [laughter] and it was like…it added to the whole thing, you know? It was like…and then my shoulder…I mean, there’s always things sort of that you discover along the way. You know, I think the most exciting thing was definitely learning some of the fighting style that these incredible stunt guys that we have came up with and choreographed for us. I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited to share it with, you know, the fans and see what they think. I really think we’ve got some very interesting new stuff in this film in terms of that department. We worked really hard on it and so…yeah. We’ll see.
For someone who didn’t see the first movie, is there a way for them to get brought up to speed on the relationship between you and Steve?
Stan: Yeah, I would say so. Yeah. You don’t have to see the first movie to not have a…you know, you’ll have a good time. I think you can still kind of relate with the characters. I think seeing the first movie’s more of a neat trick. I think, if anything, it’ll be a little bit weird because it’s such a…it is a different movie. It’s going to be a very different movie from that particular origin film.
Earlier you were talking about how you sort of tried to layer in elements of The Winter Solder into your portrayal of Bucky in the first movie, but how much of the old Bucky will we see in The Winter Soldier, and how did you work to sort of pepper in those elements throughout this movie?
Stan: My goal is that you’ll get to see that. I mean, the truth of the situation’s like, there’s still…though he looks really different, though there’s different things about him, I mean, it still comes from the same person, you know? I think you’ll get to see that no matter what. I think part of my goal here was to make sure that you see an extension of that version, but sort of like just a different color of that same version, in a way, and I think he’s…you know, he’s still the same guy. He cuts from the same cloth. I mean, in terms of the first movie, all I was really trying to show here and there were aspects of him sort of…maybe when he was…there’s that one shot where he, like, saves his life and he kind of…you see that he’s a sniper and so on. There was just something about his face and his expression when he’s sort of, you know, saved Steve’s life and kind of shot someone without really being kind of ticked by it. I mean, there was just little things like that. Sort of that there was a little bit of an edge to him. That there was something that he was maybe wrestling with a little bit more. I mean, at the time, I think in the first movie, it’s like they’re just trying to, you know, find themselves. Young guys trying to find themselves that have to go to war, so whatever that means. So, you know, I hope that people can kind of track that a little bit when they look at it A to Z.