This July, actor Sebastian Stan ("Black Swan," "Hot Tub Time Machine") steps in to the role of Bucky, Captain America's sidekick from the battle-filled days of World War II. In the Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures film, he's Steve Rogers' right hand man, fighting alongside the titular First Avenger in battles against the Nazi-esque forces of the Red Skull and Hydra.
When CBR News spoke with Stan on the set of "Captain America: The First Avenger" at Shepperton Studios in London, England last October, the actor had just finished a number of physically and emotionally draining scenes. First, an assault on a Hydra train in a treacherous mountain setting with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), then an emotional scene in which he gets separated from his partner. When we spoke with Stan, it was clear he had put in a hard day's work already, and it wasn't over yet.
CBR News: We just watched you film a rather emotional scene. You were inside a large warehouse that was on fire, standing on the top of a catwalk and screaming to Steve Rogers -- you were clearly in some distress! Was this the most emotional scene to film thus far?
Sebastian Stan: I would say the scene at the end [of the film]. [Laughs] I don't know how much more I'm supposed to reveal! [Laughs] I'd say the scene that we shot earlier today, where we were hanging off of a train in the mountains. That was probably the hardest, just in terms of having to do it over and over again, having to be present and kind of fresh in the intensity of it. That was probably the one that's closest in my memory.
Bucky and Steve have a very close relationship in the comics, not unlike that of a father and son. What sort of relationship have you established with Chris Evans in the making of this movie?
You know, I was very fortunate because, personally, I feel like we found a lot of parallels. We met fairly early on and we got along right away and, you know, he's just a very generous actor. It makes it very easy in terms of just being able to talk about him, just kind of be comfortable when we go to different places. So from that point of view, the casting was pretty good.
Chris spoke with us earlier about the physical aspects of his role, and I understand you had to go through a lot of training as well.
Yeah, we did a lot of weapons training and then your basic workout routine. You want to feel in shape when you're running around this much!
Does that routine help you stay fresh when you're doing take after take, as you mentioned earlier?
Yeah, absolutely. I find it very helpful to keep physical, you know, even at 5 AM, before you get [on set]. It really kind of sets the pace. Keep in mind, these character's we're playing are heroes, but they're people, too, and with any war situation, you're trained and you kind of have to figure out right there in the moment what the best thing to do is. So that physicality is key with this role.
Chris also discussed working with Hugo Weaving and the intensity he brings to all his parts. What's your experience working with Hugo been like?
It's just real easy to react off of him. He just makes your job easier because as an actor, you're so interested and captivated in what he's going to do next and his face has got so much expression. What he brings in terms of his voice and his accent and sort of, you know, everything. His presence. He just made it very easy. You're kind of in awe a little bit, which helps because the moment when he becomes Red Skull, you are in awe and freaked out. So, that always helps.
Is this a more challenging experience than your past roles? Is it more emotionally draining?
I would say so. This is the longest shoot I've ever been a part of. I find when there's a lot of changes [combined with] this length of time and how you sometimes work in portions, it's really important to keep the through line of the character and just always remember in your head where you are. Then, of course, there's a lot of that CGI stuff and the green screen. That's all about having that picture in your mind as to what you're looking at, even though it's just green. I found that stuff to be really challenging.
Did look to the comics at all for reference?
Absolutely. The old ones and the new ones. I don't think it would've been right or fair not to do that. I was actually very surprised, because there's a lot of neat little things that I didn't know about [Cap and Bucky's] relationship, small details throughout, that were very helpful.
Several years ago in the comics, Cap died and Bucky has since taken over as Captain America. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon with the films, but would you ever want to play Captain America if it ever came to that?
Sure! [Laughs] Absolutely, why not?
Did you read comics when you were a kid?
No, I did not, actually, because I didn't grow up in America. I'm originally from Romania, so I never knew the comics when I grew up.
So that aspect of American pop culture, super heroes and comics, never made it to Romania?
Unfortunately, no. I could see why this was cool for people when it came out, especially in the '50s, from an historical point of view. I used to sort of think comic books were just pictures and stuff, but once I got behind the story, I appreciate it more as a medium now.
"Captain America" seems to be a bit grittier, a bit more real than most Hollywood superhero movies.
I would say it seems more realistic to me in the sense of, you know, he's still just a person. We seem to be in a world right now where everyone seems to be obsessed with vanity and beauty and creating the perfect human being. To some extent, I could see something like that, maybe one day, happening, especially if it's a soldier. So all those things are very real.
Was going for the role of Bucky something that you wanted? Was it something your pursued?
Yeah, I explored it. I didn't know anything about the comic book when I was auditioning for the movie. I actually didn't know anything about him. Once I was able to see who he was and, all that stuff that happens, then, yeah, I got real excited. What I really enjoyed about him was how complex he was as a person. That appealed to me.
Do you find any of yourself in the character?
I think you find something of yourself in any character you play. You have to. There's probably a reason why certain people capture certain things in film. That being said, I think it's important you honor the character you play because sometimes what that character likes or dislikes or the choices they make may obviously be the opposite of your own choice, so you have to make sure you separate yourself from there.
Check back with CBR Monday for our report form the movie's set!
"Captain America: The First Avenger" opens July 22, 2011.