Sebastian Stan is back for his second Marvel Studios film in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and while he may be reprising his role from “Captain America: The First Avenger,” The Winter Soldier is certainly a departure from the first film’s James “Bucky” Barnes. To shed some light on the work that went into preparing for the physically demanding role of The Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan stopped by the CBR Speakeasy in Los Angeles, discussing the challenge of returning as a different version of his character, acting with Hollywood legend Robert Redford, his desire to take on more comedic roles and his fascination with the fast progression of technology.
On whether he knew where his character was headed during “Captain America: The First Avenger”: First off, I don’t know anything ever. I very much operate on a phone call basis. If they need me, I’m there, I’m good to go. I love the character, I’d be ready to play it tomorrow whichever way they wanted me to do it. As a transvestite? Great. Let’s do Bucky that way. [Laughs] But I needed to read the comics and just really get the arc and know as much as I could before the first film. Just for that purpose, I was educated on it, but I had no idea how they were going to take it onscreen, so I just went with the flow.
On the challenges of playing The Winter Soldier: I think the costume really helps. I think it helps when you can’t recognize yourself when you look in the mirror. This was one of those situations where the character had such a specific look — and with the mask — I didn’t feel like myself, I didn’t recognize myself to some extent, and so some of the things you rely on as actor sometimes to go to because you know they work were stripped away from me. It was actually a benefit for me in the long run, having that costume and the mask.
On his scene with Robert Redford: The first thing that comes to mind is, for me, he really treated me as an equal on set, which was — I came in with this whole perception that I knew who he was. I love “The Sting” and a lot of the movies he was in. I don’t know, a lot of times when you’re around those actors, they like their privacy, they like to be a certain way, you want to respect that — but he was so giving, he was actually very engaging. I got to talk to him, I got to ask him questions about Natalie Wood and the 1950s and Paul Newman and theater — I was pretty amazed because he was pretty giving. … Any nerves in that situation actually worked to my advantage, because you take anything you can grab to translate it to the screen. Just his presence and the character he was playing and our relationship in the film, the dynamics, actually translated well.
On his obsession with Jim Carrey growing up: First of all, I was really obsessed with JIm Carrey growing up. Jim Carrey was a big [part] of me wanting to act. I was imitating Ace Ventura and everything he did — “Dumb and Dumber.” I love that sequence in “Ace Ventura” when he’s in a mental hospital. In a sense, comedy was something I always gravitated to — it’s not something I’ve gotten a chance to do, but it’s on my radar, hopefully, the opportunity will come. I don’t know if it helps to say that I think I’m funny, but — [Laughs] Everything I do in my head seems to be funny sometimes, so we’ll see. Comedy’s always been interesting to me.
On something his fascination with the progression of technology: We were talking about the concept of “The Singularity,” the Kurzweil documentary, and I was just saying — I was sharing with you how this idea of technology running ahead of us and rapidly progressing and us getting to the point of somehow trying to merge with it or being against it. Just this thing of how we communicate now, it’s just easier through text than calling and hearing each others’ voices. “The Singularity” just talks about that, and it’s something that I geek out about. I feel like we’re moving towards that to some extent, so I’m curious as to how that’s going to shape up.
On whether he might come back to “Once Upon A Time”: I don’t know! I really don’t know! No phone calls. I have no idea. I had a great time, and that’s such a cool character. Those guys just reinvented all those stories and it was a great thing to be a part of, but I have no idea.
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