Anthony Mackie has been impressing audiences ever since his feature debut in 8 Mile, along with roles in Million Dollar Baby, The Manchurian Candidate, Half Nelson, The Hurt Locker, Real Steel and last year's Gangster Squad and Pain & Gain. This weekend, the actor gets a boost into the stratosphere with his role as Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, opening in theaters April 4.
If you haven't heard of this highly talented actor until now, his performance will leave an indellible impression in this thoroughly impressive Marvel Phase Two sequel (CLICK HERE to read my full review), as he joins forces with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) to take on The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). I recently had the chance to speak with Anthony Mackie, where we discussed his first reactions to the script, the practicality of his Falcon suit, and how his catch phrase "cut the check" spread throughout the set. Take a look at what he had to say below.
I actually saw the first 10 minutes of the film, a few weeks before seeing the whole thing. It was an awesome opening, with Cap and Sam going around the National Mall, but it kind of surprised me. Were you expected to be thrown in right away?
Anthony Mackie: I wasn't. When I read the script, I was really excited by the relationship between the two of them. In that first scene, I was really happy with how it broke down the relationship between Cap and Sam, and it let you know who they were going to be to each other for the rest of the movie. I feel like that was very smart of the Russo's and Joss. It gives the audience a very clear understanding of the ride they're going on from the beginning. But, you know, usually with moviemaking, it's more of a set up. This is where we are. This is who we are, this is what we're going to do. This is what happens, the end. With this, you're literally thrown right into it, so that's why I always say this movie is like Marvel's The Avengers 1.5, because it's basically a to be continued. When Cap walked away, there should have been a camera that walked away with him. I liked the way it basically played off of Avengers, and now, at the end of this movie, another movie will play off the end of this. It's very smart of the studio.
This might be a weird technical question, but as far as The Falcon's suit, I was really impressed by that whole gun mechanism. It felt like a high-tech version of Taxi Driver.
Was any of that practical though?
Anthony Mackie: We had it. They tried to make the spring mechanism, but it just wouldn't work, so most of it, we had the pieces on my arm and the guns coming out was all CGI. We had the guns, we had the pieces, but we couldn't get them to go from A to B.
It looked phenomenal on the screen.
Anthony Mackie: Yeah, everything about it, there are so many different layers and complexities to the costumes in this movie, that every time something happens, it's like 'Holy s--t!' You never know what's going to happen, even with Cap's suit and all the stuff he does with the shield in this movie, going from the light suit to the dark suit, and all the different stuff with that, I feel like this movie really presses the button and kicks everything up a notch and makes it a completely different universe.
I read they actually took you up in the air a good 70 feet or so.
Anthony Mackie: Oh man, the flying stuff, that was the worst experience of my life (Laughs). They tricked me, man! The Russo's knew I liked them, so they were like, 'Why don't you fly a little bit?' I'm like, 'No problem! Send the stunt man down, I'm in.' So they pulled me all the way up, almost to like an interstate crossing, and let me go. It was the worst.
They actually had some scenes where you had to come in on your marks with that, right?
Anthony Mackie: Yeah, there's a scene with Chris and I, and we're walking next to these containers, when Bucky comes out and knocks him off of the carrier. The thing was, they pulled me up about 60 feet in the air, I had to come in and land on my feet and walk and talk. I come in, and I land, and I had to do all of that in sequence. I'm like, OK, I can fly, I can land, I can walk, I can talk, but I can't do all of it together. It was a disaster, but we got it. It worked out.
We talked about the opening scene and the rapport it set up, because of the battles they went through. Because of what Sam does at the VA, did you talk to any veterans to get into that mindset a little bit?
Anthony Mackie: I did. I emailed a bunch of guys I met doing The Hurt Locker and I bunch of guys I met over the years, just doing volunteer military work with the Navy and stuff like that. They sent me a lot of links and information to read about PTSD, PTSD counselling, the relationship that soldiers have, coming back from war, the perspective, a lot of essays that had been written by soldiers coming back from war, and them trying to integrate back into society and the difficulties they faced, stuff like that. I used that more so as source material, than I did reading the comic books, because it was very important for me. I thought this movie was going to hinge on whether or not the relationship between Chris and I worked. I felt like that moment was my moment of humanity. I felt like, if I can make Sam Wilson come off as a caring individual, who was trying to help his friend, in a way that he knew how, as opposed to just forcing his will on him, the audience would gravitate towards him and accept him, instantly. That was something I wanted to play with, and I used a bunch of my friends as references to do.
There's been a rumor that you might be popping up in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is that true?
Anthony Mackie: (Laughs) I wish. Everybody says that but Kevin Feige. Chris is a good friend of mine. The movie starts in three weeks. I know he's read the script. He's like, 'Yo, man, I read the Avengers script. It's good.' I was like, 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah, Joss (Whedon) is doing rewrites, but it's good. I was like, 'Great! So... am I in it?' And he says, 'I've got to go. I'll be back.' What do you mean? Why can't you just tell me if I'm in the movie? No one will tell me, not one person, so I gave up on it.
I know you have a couple of indie's you have coming out later this year. Is there anything you can say about those, or anything else you're developing that you can talk about?
Anthony Mackie: Right now, I'm just taking some time off, man. I feel like this has been such a whirlwind experience, that I'm just taking it easy for a bit. I did this movie Black and White with Kevin Costner that's really fun and great. I've been really focused and working on my Jesse Owens project, trying to get that off the ground. That's been my little brainchild for awhile, so I'm taking some time off to just focus on that.
Are you still working on the script for that then?
Anthony Mackie: Yeah, we finally have a draft, and we finally have it to where we want it, and now it's at the point where we're trying to figure out the next move, who's the best director, stuff like that, because this is a story that has to be told.
Is there financing in place?
Anthony Mackie: No, that's the problem of moviemaking. I have all these great ideas, and no money to make them. So, we're trying to put the best team together, so once we have our financing, we can be up and running.
I read that you had a catch-phrase that really caught on during production.
Anthony Mackie: Oh, 'Cut the check?' Yeah! (Laughs)
Is that something you've been saying for awhile?
Anthony Mackie: I've been saying that forever. The Roots from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, they had this song called Don't Say Nothing. The whole song is basically about all these rappers talking and not saying anything, and at the end of this section, they're like 'Cut the check,' right? I heard that and I'm like, 'That's genius.' So, every time I do something that's worth getting paid? Cut the check. That's my thing. When I'm done, I'm done. Cut the check, I'm outta here. It started on Gangster Squad and it's just evolved to something crazy now. It's just my little joke.
I can't imagine that anyone who is a fan of Marvel, won't go to see this, but, for my money, this is the biggest action spectacle out of all the Marvel movies. Do you think a lot of action fans will check this out, even if they aren't superhero fans?
Anthony Mackie: I think if you look at this movie, one of the movies I've always referenced since the first time I read the script was Catch Me If You Can. I feel like the suspense and the intellect that this movie is presented in and the story is told in, does not lend itself to an action movie. It's not your typical superhero movie. It's more of a Bourne type movie, as opposed to a superhero movie. This movie is going to change your perception on what a superhero movie should be, and I think that's the selling point of this movie. Everybody is going to come out of it and say, 'Oh my God, that's completely not what I expected, but I'm so happy it is what it is.'
That's my time. Thanks so much.
Anthony Mackie: Thanks a lot, man. I appreciate it.