EXCLUSIVE: Sebastian Stan Talks Bucky Barns in Captain America: The First Avenger
The actor takes us behind-the-scenes of this epic WWII adventure from Marvel, in theaters July 22nd
On July 22nd, Captain America: The First Avenger will finally arrive on theater screens, offering the heroic Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) a chance to save the world from the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and his evil Nazi regime. Luckily, Rogers has a faithful sidekick in Lt. James "Bucky" Barnes. But don't let actor Sebastian Stan hear you call Bucky that. Sidekick is a naughty word when it comes to the world of Captain America: The First Avenger. There are no lesser beings, only heroes waiting to discover their true potential.
We caught up with Sebastian Stan to chat with him about his turn as Bucky in this exciting new adventure, and we also found out where Bucky might be when Steve Rogers is thawed out in present day.
Here is our conversation.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Having seen it for yourself, what parts of Captain America are you most excited for the fans to watch?
Sebastian Stan: Well, I have not seen it. I am serious. I am glad you have!
Well, then, I'll turn the question around. What are you most excited to see when you finally get a chance to sit down and watch it for yourself? Or maybe you don't watch your own movies? I have no idea...
Sebastian Stan: Yes and no. This is a special occasion. I have never been in a situation like this. I feel that it is really cool and special. Its excited to see what made it in there. In some ways, you remain personally connected to it. Even at the time that it comes out. You remember what was going on, and what you were doing in your life at that point. Wondering which scenes are going to make it. If there were any takes that you like left in. I am excited for all of that. I am excited for Joe Johnston. I was present when he was doing a lot of this stuff. So much of it felt so massive, ad expansive, it took over five months. To see that compressed into two hours? That is going to be pretty exciting. I hope the expectations and the hopes of the fans are met. That they are happy with what they see. Some things are different from what they know and expect. Some things stay very real. It is done to a T. It will be exciting to see how everyone feels.
In mentioning Joe, he has helped create some of the most iconic stunt sequences in the history of film. What was it like getting to work with him on a new set of hopefully iconic scenes?
Sebastian Stan: Of course, how could it not cross your mind. I was sitting at home watching Star Wars when I was nine. Now I am here. I am working with a guy who was a part of that whole process. It is nice. It makes you grateful. You have respect. It's nice to be included in a group like that. His work is something I grew up watching, so it's surreal. I am excited for him. I think he was perfect for this situation. And you will see some of that style that defines him. At the same time, I think that he has reinvented himself.
As far as Bucky is concerned, what, in your opinion, makes this version different from some of the other iterations we've seen of the character?
Sebastian Stan: Initially, I saw the character...This version was going to be a more relatable, real, honest take. And for audiences in 2011, we had to look at war and the realities of it. I found this version of the character to be very human. This is a guy who essentially grew up as an orphan. He's got Steve, whom he treats like a brother, this is his only family, and at the same time, he lives in a conflicted world. He was born into the military, but he has started to question himself. He has seen the horrors of war, he understands what it is. But he is constantly looking to better himself. Is he getting what he should be getting out of life? At the same time, the conflict is that he will never let anything happen to Steve. That ties directly into the circumstances that he is in. I think those are very real issues. Its not about, "Let's go kick some butt!" All the time. It's also about this internal struggle. I thought that was interesting.
From your point of view as an actor, and from the point of view of the character itself, what are some of the pressures a sidekick finds himself dealing with that the main hero doesn't ever have to consider?
Sebastian Stan: The truth is, I never looked at him as a sidekick. I didn't want to play him as a sidekick. I didn't want that informing my performance. I just wanted him too...Look, for me, Bucky lives in his own world. Steve is his family back home. When Bucky goes to war, that is what he is doing. He never wants Steve to go to war. He doesn't want Steve to be in a position where he can get hurt. He doesn't ever want to lose Steve. That is the only family he's got. But Bucky lives in his own world, at the same time. He travels the world. He has been around. He has seen things. When he comes back, what I think happens, when they both go on their mission, this is where the quote-unquote sidekick thing kicks in. When Bucky comes back, the next time Bucky sees Steve, Steve is a different man. Not a person. But an entirely different man. That changes everything, including the dynamic of his relationship. Bucky has to follow Steve into battle, because it never changes for him. That he will always have to look out for his brother. You know what I mean? There were aspects of that, that we've seen in other films before. Where brothers stand up for each other. One goes to war, because he doesn't want anything to happen to the other guy. There are different moral reasons at play here, other than, "Hey, we're going to go be super heroes. I think the world in the comic books looks at this as something that will take care of itself. But for me, I am interested in keeping it all about the reality of their relationship. The connection between people, and why Bucky does what he does.
So, as an actor in that type of role, do you have to take the script apart, and rearrange it a little bit, so that you can come at it from solely his point of view?
Sebastian Stan: As an actor, you know you are part of this world. That is why you have to read the scrip multiple times. You have to read it for your character, and to know what choices you are going to make. But you also have to know which part of the film you are in. When it's not your turn, you have to step back and let the story be the story, the way it is. That doesn't mean you play something with the thought, "Oh, I am only 25% in. Or 85% in." Everything else has to be as honest as possible. You have to know your place as a part of the movie, and as an actor. You also have to trust that the movie will take care of that for you, as long as you are in service of it.
With this storyline moving between time periods, and Steve Rogers next appearing in the present, I have to ask, where is Bucky today? Do we see him as an old man? As a war veteran? Has he passed away, as I believe he does in the comic books? Has there been any thought about this aspect of the character?
Sebastian Stan: The possibilities are endless. It's too early for me to say. Honestly, I don't know where this story is going to go. Obviously, there is a line in the comic books about where this could potentially go. I think the story is set up for any option. I think a lot remains to be seen.
Does that appeal to you? Playing Bucky in old age make-up, sitting in a retirement home?
Sebastian Stan: That sounds a little far fetched to me. As an actor, I would look to see where the interesting scenes are, what it's about, and what the purpose of it is. Should this be the story? I would prefer that he be a version of Jason Bourne. If we do see him as an old man, I would hope that he'd wind up in a better situation than a retirement home. Maybe he will be somewhere on a ranch, with a really hot wife and seven kids. Maybe it will end something like that. (Laughs)