Sebastian Stan does much of his work on television these days, with the likes of Gossip Girl, Political Animals and Once Upon a Time under his belt. But comic book fans will always know him as Bucky Barnes, the best buddy of Captain America in the two film adventures of the iconic superhero. He returns in The Winter Soldier as the title assassin, sent back to make life extremely difficult for his former best mate. In an exclusive interview with Mania, he talked about his return to the role and the challenges of playing a different character with the same soul.
Question: We talked three years ago for the first one, and you weren’t sure about Bucky coming back, but you had a little twinkle in your eye when you talked about it. At what point did you know that you were going to get another shot the character?
Sebastain Stan: I had hopes and obviously the character has this great story connected to him, but I really wasn’t sure. It really came down to the day where we shot Bucky falling off the train in the first film. They said we were going to soot with a green screen arm, and I thought, “Well if we’re going that, then that means something else is coming, maybe the Winter Soldier.” Then I showed up on the day of the shoot, and suddenly it was “no green screen arm.” And when the film came out, I looked at the fall and thought, “Well I don’t know. That looks like a whole lot of dead to me.” I was really happy, obviously, when I found out about two years later, that I was in line for this one.
Q: This seems to present a unique challenge, because he’s the same guy, and yet he’s not the same guy. How do you maintain the consistency between the two performances?
SS: You have to maintain that consistency. The Bucky who I saw in the screenplay – different from the Bucky in the comics – is a guy who does the right thing, but who doesn’t always know how he feels about his role. He wanted to be gung ho, like Steve, but he always had a darker side. A little resentment, a little chip on his shoulder. I saw that in the first film, and that got me thinking about what his dark side would look like. You had to see it, but he still had to be the same person. And those things were real, especially in the dynamic of a friendship. He knows this guy Steve Rogers, who’s a great guy, but kind of the little brother that Bucky’s protecting all the time. Suddenly, he comes back as this demigod. So there’s some resentment there. Some envy. Steve gets to be this decorated super soldier while poor old Bucky’s getting tortured by Hydra creeps. It’s going to put a little venom in your glare. At the same time, you had to keep the friendship, and the real camaraderie they had. You have to see it in glance, in flashbacks. It has to be there, only now it’s the thing you’re spotting out of the corner of your eye.
Q: He doesn’t have a lot of dialogue here, so you also have to convey everything physically…
SS: A lot of that really didn’t come into my mind until I had the costume and the mask. I looked at myself in the mirror, and there were things I couldn’t recognize anymore. But it fueled the performance. It was restricting in some places and it made for a terrific base to build on.
Q: Did you have a green-screen sleeve for this one? For the arm?
SS: If was all real except for the elbow. The joint. There was some trouble with the shoulder, but again, I was able to play with that and make it part of the character.