When I visited the set of Captain America: Civil War last year with a group of fellow reporters, Anthony Mackie was easily the most entertaining interview. I wish I could have shared the audio with everyone because Mackie was so carefree and funny in his answers to our questions. You almost forgot that he’s pretty close to the central conflict, which sees Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) squaring off over superhero registration.
During our conversation, Mackie talked about how he learned he was member of the New Avengers, his new costume, the CGI wings, why no one cares about Falcon’s personal life, what it will take for him to buy Grindr (and why he thinks that’s a horrible name for a gay dating app), and more. Read the full interview below.
ANTHONY MACKIE: You know you could just record this and email it to each other. I don’t know. Shit gets real easy.
We saw in Ultron that Falcon gets to be an Avenger. Do we find out in this movie what that means to him to now be a part of this team?
MACKIE: Definitely. I think the Russos and everybody are very specific about The Falcon’s storyline and how he feels about Steve and the rest of The Avengers. The idea of him becoming an Avenger is pretty cool. He’s pretty excited about it. We definitely get an element of that in the film.
Is Anthony also very excited about that?
MACKIE: Uh, yeah! It’s weird. You never know. They never send you the whole script. Like when they asked me to do Avengers (Age of Ultron) they sent me two scenes. There are two hours and seven minutes around those two scenes, but I never got to read it.
When we were at the premiere I was like “Cool.” I’m with my son and he gets to see his daddy in two scenes in The Avengers. By the end of the movie I turn around and they’re like “Avengers Assemble!” I’m like, “HOLY SHIT! I’M AN AVENGER!” So I turn around to everybody with me and they were like, “Dude! You’re a fuckin’ Avenger!” “This is fuckin’ amazing.” So, that’s the story of my Marvel life.
When you filmed that scene you had no idea of the context at all?
MACKIE: I had no idea. I flew in, Chris and Scarlett are up top and the rest of us are standing there. It was like “Cut. Anthony fly in. Action. Hrm-hrm-hrm. Cut. Alright, thanks!” That was pretty much it. Six months later you go to a premiere and you shit yourself.
Everybody was like “Why are you so excited?” I’m like, “Arrhhhahhh… I just found out I’m an Avenger!” That’s pretty much how it happened over and over. That’s how Cap 2 happened, over and over and over again. So, I’m used to it. I’m interested to see what’s going to happen with this movie.
So what’s it like being part of this team? What’s the dynamic like between Falcon and the rest of them?
MACKIE: It’s really cool. With being an Avenger there’s not really a hierarchy. Everybody gets to make decisions, everybody’s put in a position to save the day as opposed to standing there while one person flies in and saves the day and you’re like, “Good job!” Avengers is really a team effort.
I feel like if you watch the first one, it wasn’t about Tony saving the day by flying up into the… hole? I don’t know. Fuck. Flying into the hole with the nuke, but it was moreso about everybody doing their own thing to make that happen. I feel like that theme carries on into a lot of Marvel movies, where it’s a team effort as opposed to one guy’s effort.
So do you recommend any more awesome music to Cap in this movie?
MACKIE: I do not. I recommend music to Chris, but not Cap. (makes a scrunchy face) Strange taste, dawg. Strange taste. But not Cap, no.
You say there’s no hierarchy in the Avengers, but Sam and Steve have a real tight connection. In this film, which is about conflict between heroes, is it fair to say that these two guys are still tight or is this going to test their bond?
MACKIE: I think their relationship carries over from when I was introduced in Cap 2 and you saw a little bit of in Avengers. There’s definitely a confidence and respect between the two of them. You get to see more of that. I think our relationship is more mano a mano as opposed to mano and friend. It’s not so much that it’s challenged, just made stronger.
In Age of Ultron Sam was sort of on the case in trying to find The Winter Soldier. Is that the case this time? Is there a side mission to track down this character?
MACKIE: Um. It’s… yeah. No. I can’t answer that. (laughs)
Will we get to see Red Wing at all?
MACKIE: I hope so. I hope so. I’m looking forward to it. I told you, I can’t wait to see this movie! I just found out I was an Avenger, like, 3 weeks ago, dude! I have no fuckin’ idea!
What’s something you get to do in this movie that you haven’t done previous that you’re excited about?
MACKIE: In this movie I get to interact with everybody as opposed to just interacting with Cap. I get to continue my (un)dying love affair with Black Widow, which is good. I think moreso in this one that I didn’t get to do before is become my own person. Now everyone knows who I am, so it’s not “Who’s the flying guy?” It’s more, “Hey, Falcon’s here.” You get to see my relationship with everyone else has grown as opposed to being the new guy on the team.
We were talking with Jeremy (Renner) and he said everybody’s getting costume upgrades. Is Falcon upgraded as well?
MACKIE: Yeah, we’ve all been Tony Stark-erized. We’ve all had major upgrades to our costumes and stuff like that. Jeremy still has those indispensable arrows that come out of nowhere and just rejuvenate out of his back. And Elizabeth still has her angry rave thing going on. We’ve all had upgrades.
So Stark did those upgrades?
MACKIE: I would guess. He’s kinda like the guy that upgrades everything. It’s either him or Hydra, so I’m pretty sure since we’re with him that he did them all.
How much of your suit, like the wings, is actually physical on your person while you’re shooting?
MACKIE: They 100% add all the wings. I realized yesterday how stupid we look. They’re “We need you to run, but before you break into a full run pop your arms out so your wings can extend and you’ll fly.” I was like, “Okay, alright. I’m 36. Let’s do it.” We were running and it’s so hot. It’s balls hot. So, I’m running and my goggles are filling up with water, right? I don’t know how women do this, but it’s torture. The makeup starts getting into the corners of my eyes, so I start crying. It’s so hot… I can’t really see anything and they’re like “So, hold your arms out and just… fly away.” I was like, “Let’s just do it, dude. Fuck it, let’s do it.” (laughs)
So, the wings are real in my mind not on set. They have these little wings, like these little three foot wings. I do this shit, then I have to do it with the little wings, so I look like a quail or a pheasant. It’s whatever. I’m happy about it. I’m happy to be an Avenger!
There’s a split between Steve and Tony. Where do you find your character? Do you immediately side with Rogers? How do you approach this disagreement?
MACKIE: I think the conflict is moreso between them. I don’t think anyone else chooses sides. I think we’re all on Steve and Tony’s side. The conflict is more with them and we step back and watch it unfold.
They’ve talked about this being a very global movie. Is there any specific location you’re excited about at all?
MACKIE: The thing about Avengers 1 that was so cool was they were in New York. I was like “Damn!” I really wanted to go shoot a few days in New York, but we were, like, in Birmingham, Alabama. It was like… “Why are we shooting here? Why are we doing Atlanta for Birmingham?”
We have a bunch of different locations, but I really wanted it to be a major city like New York or LA.
But you were in Birmingham, Alabama?
MACKIE: No, why would we shoot in Birmingham? I was using that as an example. Have you ever been to Birmingham?!?
I’m from there.
MACKIE: Wait, you’re from Alabama or Birmingham?
MACKIE: Are you from Birmingham, Alabama?
MACKIE: Alright. Go to Birmingham. It’s bananas! You drive through that motherfucker and make it out alive. Yeah. Go to Birmingham. Just check it out, dawg. I drive to New Orleans once every two weeks and I hit Birmingham and I’m like (looks terrified, hands on an invisible steering wheel). Literally just look at the front of the car. Don’t look out the window. Don’t look out the window.
I have this picture… There was this dude in a truck and he was hauling ass. He was in a Toyota truck, so that tells you what kind of dude he was. Who the fuck buys a Toyota truck? So, he had, like, deer legs hanging out of the back of his truck, like tied up and out. It was like one, two, three, four deers. Then there was some other animal. It wasn’t a deer. The legs… I don’t know what it was, but it was hanging, like he had it tied from a rack, I guess it was a gun rack, out the back window… Carcasses. Driving. And leaving a trail of blood as he drives down the highway.
Don’t look, dawg. Keep going. Whatever that fifth thing is, don’t look.
So, what music have you recommended to Chris?
MACKIE: He’s an interesting guy, that Chris Evans. I’ve tried to help him understand… the greatest band in music history, pound for pound, they invented the crescendo… Earth Wind & Fire. I don’t care what nobody say, I’ve never been sitting on my couch and was like, “Man! Put on that Doobie Brothers CD!” Never happened. And I love the Doobie Brothers, alright? Never happened, alright?
Earth Wind & Fire is the greatest band of all time. If you don’t believe it and have iTunes I will give you forty bucks. Download forty songs and it’ll blow your mind. Blow your mind, alright? Greatest songwriter of all time, pound of pound, I don’t care what nobody says… I don’t care about his children… Lionel Richie. I don’t care what nobody say. I don’t care. I never was on my couch and was like, “Man! Barry Manilow made me cry!” Never happened. Lionel Richie. Earth Wind & Fire. That’s it.
But he don’t believe that! And it confuses the shit outta me! How do you… It’s Lionel Richie. I guarantee you, I put on Say You Say Me you’re going to say “Damn. I need to text her right now.” I guarantee you! If I put on Dancing On The Ceiling you’re going to go, “Shit. Ugggggghhh.” Because all you’re going to want to do is “Whooo!” Fuck that. Lionel Richie.
You can’t get a girl with Lionel Richie? You a loser. All of my high school years, every time I wrote a girl a note it was literally sixteen bars of Lionel Richie and then I would sign it “Anthony Mackie.” She would be, “Oh, my God. You’re such a poet.” I said, “I know, baby. I know. So cultured. I’m a poet. I’m just a renaissance man in my heart. I can build shelves and I can write poetry.”
I don’t know how we go back to the movie after this.
MACKIE: (laughs) I’m just saying, call your girl and recite one of Shakespeare’s sonnets and she’s going to go “What the fuck are you talking about?” Call her and recite one Lionel Richie song. You’re going to be tazing her off you. Real talk.
I don’t know, maybe you don’t want to taze her off. That’s cool. I don’t know. Maybe you don’t like tazing girls off you. That’s cool. Knock yourself out.
So, in this movie… (laughs)
Since you mentioned that your character interacts with a lot of others, is it fun for you to see what your character makes out of folks like The Vision or some of these other characters?
MACKIE: Definitely. Vision is by far the easiest person to make fun of. He’s always a good target. Vision is definitely my one guy because he’s easy to make fun of. And Tony Stark. I don’t know why everybody thinks Tony’s cool, and Tony thinks he’s really cool, but Falcon just thinks he’s a nerd.
And not like a cool millennium nerd. Nowadays you see a nerd and they’re, like, hot chicks and they’re like “I’m a nerd!” and you’re like “What’s up?” I’m talking about a 1985 nerd. Naw, kid. You don’t win. Naw.
What’s Falcon’s reaction to Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch?
MACKIE: Do you mean, like, in the metaphorical sense when me, Anthony who plays Falcon, saw the movie and saw Scarlet Witch in it? I went deep with that.
No, I mean the dynamic between you and them in this movie.
MACKIE: Are they in this movie? Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch?
MACKIE: Hey, man. If you got the script, pass it to me. I’d love to check it out. I’m sure it’s a good read. (laughs) It’s funny. I think he likes Ant-Man. Ant-Man is another character that when I see (him) in the movie I just don’t get, you know? You’re an ant…
I’m being used strategically to ask the audience’s questions, like prime example… In Avengers (Age of Ultron) when Jeremy and Scarlet Witch are talking and he’s like “Look, we’re adults. I’m wearing a suit. I have arrows. I’m not cool, but we have to go out here and fight.” I feel like that’s been the audience’s perspective of his character since you first read the comic book.
In this movie there’s some more of that as well. I’m more the audience’s perspective, so when Scarlet Witch is all (does rave hands) I’m like, “You saw that? Right. Just making sure you fuckin’ saw that.” Scarlet Witch and her crazy rave baby technique and Ant-Man and him riding an ant. Alright, cool. That’s what he does, he shrinks and rides ants.
MACKIE: No, people don’t come to Marvel movies for personal life subplots, no. If you literally are watching this movie and we go, “On a side note, Falcon is over here trying to get a date at a coffee shop,” you would shoot yourself in the face. You literally would.
“Where’s Falcon?” “Ah, he’s at the coffee shop on Tinder again.” (laughs) That would be the worst.
MACKIE: (laughs) My non-ending quest to figure out Tinder! “How do I upload my picture? My wings don’t fit!” That would be awful.
Somewhere you’re going to find fan art of Falcon sitting in a coffee shop on Tinder.
Probably get some art of him on Grindr, too.
MACKIE: What is Grindr?
(Silence, then huge laughter)
MACKIE: If you compare it to Tinder I have a pretty good idea what Grindr is.
It’s Tinder for gay guys.
MACKIE: That’s so awful. Who came up with that name?!?
Someone who’s rich now.
MACKIE: He’s a sexist pig. Whoever named it Grindr is awful. Sorry, sorry. I’m gonna write him a fuckin’ email. “Gay people aren’t tender to each other. Gay people GRIND each other.” That’s awful.
You said before that you don’t see Falcon as Captain America. Do you still believe that?
MACKIE: No, no, no. I definitely see him as Cap. I mean, I have the comic books. It’s more… I really enjoy coming to work with the people I work with and I’d rather be in a great movie with a bunch of cool people than a standalone superhero movie with just me standing there looking like a fucking idiot.
I mean, not too many people can say they love what they do and they really like the people they work with. I mean, Sebastian is my dude. Chris is my dude. Paul has become my dude. Jeremy has been my dude for almost 10 years now. You get to come to work with your friends!
I did a movie last year that Paul Bettany directed. If you take all that away just so I could be number one on a call sheet? My ego is well intact. I’m really cool with being that tall (holds up fingers an inch apart) on the poster.
But if it happens… I’ll shit myself again. If it happens I will buy and rename Grindr.
(laughs) Thank you.
MACKIE: Thank you for coming. Y’all stay cool.
For more of our Captain America: Civil War set visit coverage, click on the links below:
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: 115 Things to Know about Marvel’s New “Sprawling, Epic” Film
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Directors Joe & Anthony Russo on Crafting a Psychological Thriller
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: Chris Evans & Sebastian Stan on Playing Men out of Time
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: Robert Downey Jr. on the “Sokovia Accords” and Irreparable Things
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’: Chadwick Boseman on Bringing Black Panther to Life
- ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Screenwriters Explain How This Is Not an ‘Avengers’ Movie