In Captain America The Winter Soldier, the Winter Soldier himself is less a man, and more a force of nature.
The Soldier is silent, relentless, and driven. He’s also ably played by Sebastian Stan, a man who fits easily into the role. Stan played the Soldier’s alter ego, Bucky Barnes, in the previous Captain America: The First Avenger.
Stan took time to talk to Newsarama about the role, and the new film, which debuts April 4.
Newsarama: Sebastian, you started off playing Bucky Barnes in the first movie, who became the Winter Solider in the second. In the comics, Bucky became Captain America for a while. Is this going to happen with you?
Sebastian Stan: I don’t know! [laughs] They don’t tell me anything. That’s just the truth.
Nrama: Does your deal with Marvel call for more films in this series?
Nrama: How many more?
Stan: Uh…I think…I think I actually have nine.
Nrama: Really? We call that “job security.”
Stan: Yeah, it’s great job security.
Nrama: Did you know, going into the first Captain America movie as Bucky, that you’d be doing the Winter Soldier in the second?
Stan: I did, and I didn’t. It was a “maybe.” It led me to prepare myself for this just in case, but I’m not the guy who gets to shoot the movies. When we wrapped, I had no idea if we’d be back. A lot of that has to do with fan response, the public response. But I did really hope that I’d be back to play this character again.
Nrama: In this flick, you’re very much the cliché of the “strong, silent type.” But you’re an actor. You like to emote, you like to talk. Is it cool to be able to turn that off for a while, or are you Jonesing to say more?
Stan: I have to tell you, when I was younger and when I was in acting school, I was the guy saying, “Oh, I want more lines!” But now, you know, I find it more interesting as a viewer to watch “the other guy,” the guy reacting. Dialogue is important. It’s communication; it’s the first way we reach each other. But these days, I find it more interesting to watch the guy who’s listening to the guy talk.
But we all also get a first impression off people by what we see. Those first moments, those first impressions, are a communication too. Those first moments can be awkward, but I find them truly more interesting, more watchable.
Nrama: And chicks dig the strong, silent types, right?
Stan: Well, we’ll see. You’ll have to ask them. Those silent types would be good listeners, right?
Nrama: One big change in Bucky from the comics to the movies is that in the comics, Bucky was the teenage sidekick, while in the flicks, he’s a peer to Steve Rogers. In the comics, Cap was the alpha dog, and Bucky was the puppy. Now it’s almost reversed. Bucky, in many ways, is the stronger one in the relationship. How do you think that changes the dynamics of the characters, and was there anything you and [Cap actor] Chris Evans did to highlight that?
Stan: That switch, per se, was right there in the script for the first movie. So to me, it’s kind of always been this way. I think Marvel looked at that relationship between those two in the comics, and wanted to update it to something more relatable for the screen. I think that bit kind of had to be retold a little bit. I don’t think it could have worked the same way as it did in the comics when it was transferred to the movie. I think Cap needed a real camaraderie, a real friendship, a real brotherly love to be there. That’s the way I read it right from the first time I read the first script. They were close as brothers.
Nrama: And, truth be told, the teen sidekick is kind of a throwback to the 1940s…
Stan: Right! Today, people would be screaming “child endangerment!” It may have been hard for the first movie to break those conventions, but I think Marvel said, “Look, these ideas came from a 1940s mentality. What can we take from that and keep in tone, but what do we have to do to make it work in world today for a modern audience?”
Nrama: I know you guys are all absolutely, contractually obligated to say, “Yes! I’ve done my reading and done the homework and read the comics,” and I’m sure you have. But how much do you really care about it? How much do you get out of reading that original source material?
Stan: A lot. I’m certainly not contractually obligated to say that; it’s just the truth. Look, at the end of the day, you essentially take a year of your life, and make it about this movie. It takes six months to shoot it, another two months re-shooting it and going back for ADR [additional dialogue recording], and another three months talking to press about it. So you’d better love what you’re doing, right? You’re giving a year of your life to this. And you’re lucky to do that. In my case, I get to be lucky enough to do this for multiple years. So yeah, you have to learn about the character, love the character, and for me, there was no question—I had to read up, as much as I could. And fortunately, I’m not building from scratch here. There’s plenty of stories and material that tell you that Bucky acts a certain way, and there are plenty of fans who are very opinionated and will help you find out more and appreciate it all. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right.
Nrama: Marvel has been on a hot streak, and all these films are coming up roses. That’s a nice position to be in, but is there also pressure not to drop the ball? Do you feel, or do other cast members feel, a pressure from that past success?
Stan: I think that’s for the guys who wear bigger hats than me to worry about! I’m just an actor in the movie. I don’t deal with those kinds of pressures, if indeed others do. I’m an actor in a director’s medium. All I can do at the end of the day is show up and do the best I can. It’s up to them to edit it and make it happen. My job is probably the least worrisome!
But I think this is a great time for Marvel; you’re right. We have the technology to make these movies what they are, and that’s the best in what they are. I’m happy and lucky to be part of it all.