By the time Anthony Mackie calls me from New Orleans, I’ve already binged 8 Mile, The Hurt Locker, a handful of Avengers movies, and Mackie’s latest superhero performance, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I can’t see him (a Zoom is ideal for these sorts of things in pandemic times) but I don’t need to; I’d recognize his voice anywhere. “Coming from New Orleans, we don’t speak English like humans,” says Mackie, laughing and explaining why voice and speech training was especially challenging for him as an aspiring actor. “[But] when I got to Juilliard, I had this teacher named Denise Woods who made it very clear to me that I shouldn’t lose that spark, that New Orleans part of me.” Mackie seems to have taken Woods’s advice seriously. He isn’t calling from New Orleans because he decamped there to wait out the pandemic, but because it’s home. It’s here that Mackie is raising his four sons, and it’s here that he remains, Hollywood fame and all.
Mackie’s rise to stardom can’t be described with adjectives like “sudden” or “meteoric.” Instead, over the past 20-odd years, the 42-year-old actor has steadily accumulated credits in indie films and Hollywood blockbusters, on Broadway and off. He effortlessly slips from hero to villain, dramatist to action star, leading man to supporting actor. Onscreen, he’s played a U.S. Army sergeant, a boxer, Martin Luther King Jr., a drug dealer, an artist coming to grips with his sexuality, a rapper (twice), and one of the first Black bankers in U.S. history. In a recent interview with Variety, Mackie recounted a known joke in Hollywood: if you’re a white actor looking for an Oscar nomination, play opposite him. First, there was Eminem in 8 Mile in 2003 (Eminem won best original song for Lose Yourself). Then Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson in 2007. And then Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker in 2010.
The role of a lifetime, however, arrived in 2014, when Marvel cast Mackie as Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon, a U.S. Air Force veteran turned airborne superhero fitted with red-tinted goggles and a pair of mechanical wings. While Falcon has typically been found flanking Captain America or fighting as part of the Avengers’ ensemble cast, he levelled up to leading hero, alongside Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), earlier this year with the six-part The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. When the show — a more character-driven spin on the superhero format — debuted on Disney+ back in March, the streaming platform announced that it was the most watched premiere in its history.
Anthony Mackie was born in New Orleans in 1978, the youngest of six children. As a kid, he was rambunctious enough that his school principal recommended Ritalin. A perceptive teacher instead recommended a creative outlet for his excess energy. In second grade, Mackie made his onstage debut with a puppet play based on the song “Waltzing Matilda,” said to be Australia’s unofficial national anthem. What Mackie remembers is the standing ovation. “[It took] three curtain calls for a puppet play? From that moment on, I loved the idea of performing,” he says.
The theatre also proved to be a supportive home for an adolescent Mackie. “I always felt like I was at a disadvantage because of the race relations of things and the education system in New Orleans. I never felt adequate,” he says. “And then I read my first Shakespeare play. I got it. I felt informed. [That] this white dude could write a play 450 years ago that I could relate to today changed my perspective immensely.” Mackie began devouring the works of famous playwrights like Ibsen, Shaw, and Chekhov. He began listening to composers like Stravinsky and studying theatre practitioners like Meisner and Brecht. He even took clown classes and studied kabuki, a type of Japanese dance-theatre. “All these things just started falling into place,” he says. “I found myself in the theatre. I became the man I wanted to be in the theatre.” [more at Source]
What made you get into acting? Where you always passionate about acting?
I was a kid in second grade and my teacher suggested I should audition for the talented in theatre program at my public school. I was always a class clown and she thought it would help me focus and be a constructive outlet for my energy.
Where you “Dancing on the Ceiling” “All Night Long” when you found out that you will be part of Marvel MCU?
It was definitely a huge celebration. It’s not often that you have a dream and it comes true!
How did you find out that you will be in the Avengers: Endgame?
With Marvel it’s always the same. They call you and tell you to keep certain dates open. I never knew in what capacity I’d be used or what the storyline would be. I was just excited to hang out with Captain America again!
Tell us about “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”? What was it like to shoot the series?
The process for this series was really something special. I actually got to know things first and really prepare for what we were walking in. I have to say, I was very nervous because I didn’t think we could do on TV what we’ve been doing on the big screen. But, lesson learned, I’ll never question Marvel again!
Sebastian Stan and you are close friends. Does that friendship help your on-screen chemistry?
I truly consider Sebastian a dear friend. We’ve been through a lot together! Our friendship and trust off screen is the biggest reason we work so well together. I’ve learned a lot from watching him in scenes together and seeing his career grow. I mean… he was amazing in I, Tonya!
How different is making MCU as tv series compared to a feature film?
To be honest… it was exactly the same! Same crew, same schedule, same laughs. Doing a Marvel movie project is like summer camp. [More at Source]
It was March 2014 when the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier assembled in London for the U.K. leg of their international press tour. For some, namely Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, this wasn’t their first rodeo with Marvel Studios. They knew their talking points and how to regale reporters at the press conference by swapping war stories and feeding off each other’s energy. Sebastian Stan, only on his second outing in the franchise, was more reserved. He offered warm smiles and laughed along with the group’s jokes, but kept his own responses somewhat brief. When asked about any on-set injuries that might have incurred, he said. “I honestly wouldn’t feel anything until I was in the car on the way home, when I couldn’t get out of the seat. But I’m sure we hurt each other.”
On his left, Anthony Mackie chimed in. “You didn’t hurt me,” he said in a soft, almost amorous tone as they locked eyes. This made the audience chuckle. Stan livened up, volleying back what Mackie served. “You?! This is the first time I’m seeing you,” he joked.
Mackie had inadvertently solved a small problem for the Disney publicists managing that tour. “They were worried that I didn’t talk a lot. I get very uncomfortable,” Stan admits to EW, Zooming in from Vancouver for a chat with his New Orleans-based costar this past January. “They’re like, ‘Just put him in with Anthony, okay? They’re going to talk.’ And I was talking!” he says. “By the end, I was very lively, and it really is thanks to him.”
Mackie agrees. “I’m the ketchup to Sebastian’s French fries.”
Stan can’t help but smile. “Way to put a button on it, and then some!”
Whatever the special sauce, it’s this playful dynamic between the actors that made Marvel want to center them in their own event series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Premiering this Friday on Disney+ following the successful debut of WandaVision, the show sees Captain America’s two best mates — wise-cracking pararescue Sam Wilson (Mackie) and genetically enhanced super-soldier from World War II Bucky Barnes (Stan) — stomach each other long enough to face a global crisis involving a masked militia group and one Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), the big bad from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. As it happens, head writer Malcolm Spellman points to a scene from that film as “the moment this show was born.” Fans know it well: a cramped Bucky in the back of an old Volkswagen Beetle asking Sam, “Can you move your seat up?” Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, also looks to the duo’s battle with Spider-Man later in Civil War, which offered an opportunity for more banter. “They’re so funny,” Feige says. “Those are the two moments that we [at Marvel Studios] would watch and go, ‘I want to watch that! I want to watch them together more!'” [More at Source]
When Anthony Mackie got the call that the executives at Marvel Studios wanted to meet with him shortly after the release of the 2019 superhero blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame,” he figured he was either getting a new gig or getting fired.
But after several years and multiple Marvel films in which he had played Sam Wilson, that airborne ally of Captain America who is also known as the Falcon, Mackie was feeling optimistic.
“I’m walking in with the assumption that the next ‘Captain America’ movie is going to be me,” he said.
So Mackie traveled to the Marvel offices in Burbank. “I put on a suit,” he said. “I sit there like they’re about to tell me the best news I could ever get.” His ebullient voice receded ever-so-slightly as he continued: “Then they’re like, ‘We’re going to do a TV show,’” he said.
Beyond the fleeting dismay that he wasn’t being offered another film, Mackie said he was fearful that he wouldn’t be able to translate the Marvel brand to TV.
“I was taken aback,” he said, “mostly because I didn’t want to tarnish the Marvel moniker.”
This was how Mackie first learned of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” the new Disney+ series that will make its debut on March 19 and continue the adventures of those two reluctant allies, played by him and Sebastian Stan.
Arriving two weeks after the finale of “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is Marvel’s second show that seeks to extend the characters and momentum of its cinematic universe into streaming television. Its narrative mission is straightforward: to tell the next chapter in the story of its title characters, last seen in “Endgame,” after an aged Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has retired as Captain America and given his shield to Sam Wilson.
In both its story and its subtext, this show asks, how can the Marvel franchise continue without one of its most prominent figures?
As Stan explained: “We’re going to explore where these two guys left off, with one big character missing — the prominent figure that brought them into each other’s lives. Where are they, and how are they coping with the world?”
“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” consisting of six 45-to-55-minute episodes to be rolled out weekly, offers timely explorations into the nature of patriotism and extremism and the values of inclusivity, diversity and representation, set in a world striving for stability after a global catastrophe.
It is also a series freighted with implications for the Wilson character and for Mackie the actor, who, in a universe with precious few Black heroes, now have the chance to become full-fledged lead characters after long careers as sidekicks.
“I’ve gotten used to being the guy overlooked,” Mackie said. “It’s become part of my brand.”
The stage was set for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” about two years ago, when Disney introduced its Disney+ streaming service and turned to its subsidiary studios for original content.
At the same time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was arriving at a narrative turning point with “Endgame,” which said farewell to beloved characters like Steve Rogers while creating opportunities for new champions to rise.
Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studios president, said that from the outset, his company wanted its Disney+ programs to feel as significant as its movies in terms of their production values and of the characters and stories they included.
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“As far as Marvel Studios is concerned, the M.C.U. now lives in features and in shows,” Feige said. “We really wanted people to get used to the idea that it was going to be a back-and-forth. The story will be consistent across it and just as important in both places.” [More at Source]
The Captain America films are renowned for holding a mirror up to society, acting as parables for the modern world. Sure enough, as soon as Steve Rogers retired the shield and hung up his star-spangled boots, the world moved into uncharted, uncertain territory. Now, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan face the task of continuing a legacy that’s been built on values of courage and responsibility. Add mateship to that equation and you have a pair of comic book heroes uniquely equipped to meet the challenges of our times.
Over the past decade I’ve felt a difference within myself. A change, a pull, a stirring. And as the Zoom call connects and my face pops up between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, my suspicions are confirmed: I’m a nerd.
Of course, I’m not alone. The slope to Marvel fandom is not only slippery, it’s one that’s claimed millions around the world in the last decade-and-a-half. It’s the original pandemic, a wave of nerd culture sweeping up millennial males, driven for the most part by the creative forces behind Marvel Studios.
Over the course of 23 films, the Disney-owned studio has brought the comic book heroes of our childhood to the big screen, intricately weaving together a saga that culminated in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time. Beyond their box office clout, these films have had a profound impact on popular culture. They’ve created superstars of their casts, spawned a new generation of fitness idols and provided a great deal of fodder for this very magazine.
Here and now, I find myself positioned between two of the linchpins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (what us nerds call the MCU), trying my very best not to geek out. Maintain professionalism, don’t be a dork, do your job.
“How are you, boys?” I say, intentionally lowering my voice to mask my delight at the situation.
“Chillin’, ” says Mackie, stirring a tea in his mid-century-fitted living room. “Very, very excited,” adds Stan, juxtaposed in a cabin-style living room.
My inner geek stirs. So well cast are Mackie and Stan, that even their homes are reflective of their onscreen alter egos – Sam ‘Falcon’ Wilson and Bucky ‘The Winter Soldier’ Barnes respectively. To my relief, they’re both equally excited to be here, clearly relishing the opportunity to once again be back saving the world, and many others, in the process. [More at source]
For his entire tenure as an Avenger, Anthony Mackie had never been the first name on the call sheet.
In a galaxy of stars populated by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, the actor was aware of his place in the on-set pecking order, but would never miss an opportunity to make his presence felt.
“Number six on the call sheet has arrived!” Mackie would routinely shout on films like “Captain America: Civil War” and the box office-busting “Infinity Saga” sequels, according to Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige.
It exemplifies the sort of winning tone that the 42-year-old actor has brought to his superhero character the Falcon, aka Sam Wilson, for six movies from the top-earning studio — wry and collegial humor, with the potential to turn explosive at any moment. Both Mackie and his character are set to burn brighter than ever when the Disney Plus series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” lands on March 18.
On that call sheet, “Anthony is No. 1,” Feige is happy to report, “but it still says ‘No. 6.’ He kept it because he didn’t want it to go to his head.” The series is essentially a two-hander with his friend and longtime co-star Sebastian Stan, the titular soldier. All six episodes were produced and directed by Emmy winner Kari Skogland (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Loudest Voice”). The series, for which combined Super Bowl TV spot and trailer viewership earned a record-breaking 125 million views this year, is reported to have cost $150 million in total.
For Mackie, though, the show comes at a critical time for both his career and for representation in the MCU. Sam Wilson is graduating from handy wingman (Falcon literally gets his job done with the use of mechanical wings), having been handed the Captain America shield by Evans in the last “Avengers” film. While it’s unclear if he will formally don the superhero’s star-spangled uniform moving forward (as the character did in a 2015 comic series), global fandoms and the overall industry are still reeling from the loss of Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Marvel’s Black Panther to culture-defining effect. With this new story, Mackie will become the most visible African American hero in the franchise. And when asked whether he’ll be taking the mantle of one of its most iconic characters, he doesn’t exactly say no.
“I was really surprised and affected by the idea of possibly getting the shield and becoming Captain America. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I did it the way they said you’re supposed to do it. I didn’t go to L.A. and say, ‘Make me famous.’ I went to theater school, did Off Broadway, did indie movies and worked my way through the ranks. It took a long time for this shit to manifest itself the way it has, and I’m extremely happy about that,” Mackie says.
Feige says that, especially with the advent of Disney Plus and the freedom afforded long-form storytelling, the moment was right to give the Falcon his due. [More at Source]