Sebastian Stan’s A MODERN-DAY SUPERHERO FOR THE BIG SCREEN
Sebastian Stan must be the most down-to-earth superhero of all time!
One can’t imagine a superhero from the Marvel universe played by such a down-to-earth and unassuming man as Sebastian Stan, aka Captain Bucky Barnes. Maybe that’s how Marvel and Disney get us to the cinema: they hire nuanced, thoughtful actors, not just action stars. Sebastian’s also had a star turn in I, Tonya and appears opposite Nicole Kidman in the upcoming Destroyer. He’ll also star in Beat
the Reaper, based on the Josh Bazell crime novel and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
TV SOAP catches up with him in the penthouse of the luxe Shangri-La in Santa Monica.
You’re originally from Romania, right?
Yes. I was born there and I left when I was eight. Then I lived in Austria for four years and I came to the US in 1995.
What was it like to arrive in New York aged 12?
It was very weird. A lot of my childhood was kind of chaotic, moving around. But this is what life is – the life of an actor. You’re always moving, four months there, 10 months there. I’m kinda used to change, I crave it. I like relocating and going to a place I’ve never been and restart, get to know it. All that stuff is fun for me when doing my job.
Your first big break was Gossip Girl?
I did some things before that but Gossip Girl was such a popular show! It was an amazing opportunity for me. I was living in New York and it was shooting there. I never thought my character would recur. Also one of my best friends was in it, Chace Crawford, so it was nice to reconnect with him. We were hanging out anyway, so it was like, “Let’s just go to work at the same time!” I guess that was the first time that, here and there, anyone recognised me.
You’ve been playing Captain Bucky Barnes for close to a decade now. How has it changed your life?
Oh my God! It’s so bizarre. It’s certainly brought me a lot of exposure. So many people coming up to you feeling they have a special bond to the character. It led to a lot of work opportunities as well, because of the exposure these movies have. It really catapulted me into the public eye, in a different way than I was used to but in a nice way. I’ve been really grateful and lucky to come back and revisit that character over time. It’s even kinda strange to imagine what life would be without that character and without the people I’m playing with. It’s a giant family, Marvel, in a way. Every movie’s a hit. I think every movie is created like its their first and last. That’s why they’re good. It’s become a big part of my life.
Do you think any of the aspects of the Marvel Universe relate to real events? Or is it fantasy?
Look, I think it varies movie by movie but there’s something to be said that these movies sometimes penetrate into the real pulse of what’s going on. You can see it with Black PantherPanther. Panther. It was not only a story that needed to be told but it was something people wanted to see, needed to see, and there was a lot of themes that are prevalent to what’s going on today. So I think Marvel’s very smart with that kind of stuff, always finding a fine line between keeping you entertained and keeping you grounded so that you will be thinking of certain things. It’s an interesting time to have these movies now because they serve a lot of purposes. It’s almost like we really need heroes. We need leaders. There’s something subconscious there about the idea of feeling protected and safe. Maybe these movies tap into something subconscious, into people’s desires because we live in a scary world. I always think about one or two decades from now — when people will look back, how will they be looking at these movies and the pop culture of the time.
Are you surprised a movie like Captain America, , which has very patriotic, “proud to be American” themes doing so well overseas?
I think Captain America (far left) has been sort of updated. He’s more relatable than people initially thought. A man lost in time. He’s actually a very sad character. He’s trying to find his way. The ideals he grew up with and made him do the things he wanted to do are no longer applied the same way in the modern world. It goes to show that there’s something about these movies that transcends stereotypes and
perspectives. Especially in Asia, in China, these movies are huge.
How has your relationship with all the other actors in the Marvel universe evolved?
Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie are probably the closest to me. Everybody gets along. I got to know different people this time around. I spent much more time with Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth. And Scarlett [Johansson]. You almost grow with those people. Some get married, some get divorced, some have kids, some move houses. It feels like we come together and a lot of things have happened since we’ve been in each other’s lives. It does feel like family.
How do you think you’ll feel after the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally comes to an end? Is it even going to end?
You don’t know. Everything ends and begins one way, but you don’t know. These movies are still bringing people to the cinema. Why go to the movie theatre? When you have a nice plasma TV at home, you can watch it there. But I feel these movies are still serving that experience visually. You can watch on iMax, with advanced sound technology and a big part of this is that technology right now is so great to help those stories to be told. Ten to 20 years from now… you may be able to pick your favourite character and make him do whatever you want. Netflix might own a country!
It seems your relationship with your celebrity is somewhat ambivalent. Would you even want to be more famous?
I’m definitely not seeking it. I like walking the street. I don’t know what it would be like to be someone who cannot walk the streets. I have no idea what it would be like. I’d love to continue doing what I’m doing. Sometimes one is a bi-product of the other. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, sometimes. The only good thing about being famous… I see it more of a responsibility than anything else
What else have you got coming up?
There’s one that I just finished that I was really happy about called Destroyer. That was a great experience that I was really happy with. Then there’s We Have Always Lived in the
Castle, which I filmed two years ago. Really nice experience, but a tricky film, a tricky story. In
Destroyer, you can expect Nicole Kidman as you’ve never seen her before. I’ve never seen her play a part like this. She was unrecognisable in some scenes! It’s a really well-written script that was a bit twisted. It was in LA and LA is a big part of it. The movie is about control and how we struggle with that. We all want control. Sometimes it’s also about who we present ourselves to be, and who we really are. It’s a very interesting movie and I’m also excited because of the director, Karyn Kusama. She’s really talented.
Is it easy to fit in the clothes after all the Marvel superhero training you do?
No… I’m not sure if I train as hard as I used to! Maybe it’s become part of my regular life and I don’t notice it anymore. Sometimes you have to lose weight, sometimes you have to gain weight. You just go with the job – the job just takes over.
You have millions of followers on Instagram. How did you develop your fanbase?
It’s always a learning lesson for me, on social media. A lot of it happened with Marvel, obviously. I got on Instagram when the Winter Soldier movie came out, it was in 2014. It was strange. But now it’s become a really interesting way to be able to communicate with the fans. Sometimes a lot of people reach out and ask me questions or advice. And that’s always very fulfilling.
What made you change your mind about being on social media?
I wasn’t on it because I didn’t think I was going to be good at it. I’m still trying to figure it out, in a way. I’ve figured out how to enjoy it, though. I just realised it was a necessity, in a way. It was part of the way the world was going. When someone really explained it to me that it was a way to keep in touch with your fans, and them to keep in touch with me, that really opened it up for me. Before I thought, What
am I gonna say? At least now we have a connection.
How much do the fans mean to you?
Well none of this would happen without the fans. They’re the ones that go to the movies, they’re the ones that spend the money, they’re the ones that connect to those characters and relate to them. A lot of them put their hearts out and become vocal. I’ve had a lot of fans come up to me and tell me how much they related to these characters, to the Winter Soldier and how much he’s meant to them. You need that, you need that support. That’s the feedback you’re looking for. Acting, to me, is an amazing experience. For me, personally, it’s gratifying. There’s a sense of release, a peace I get. But in the end, it’s a way to communicate something with somebody.
Gossip Girl Suiting up (far left) for The Avengers Sebastian with Margot Robbie in I, Tonya