Anthony Mackie talks the Falcon Captain America The Winter Soldier
If you’ve seen an Anthony Mackie interview, you’ll quickly find out he’s anything but boring. He’s so full of energy, life and beyond excited to be an actor especially playing The Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. When we interviewed him, he quickly won us over with his quick wit and charm.
I’m was glad to see Mackie get such a great role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I absolutely loved him as Sergeant JT Sanborn in one of my favorite movies, The Hurt Locker, where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards. Mackie has been in a number of feature films, television series and Broadway and Off-Broadway plays. He was featured in Eminem’s debut film, 8 Mile, and appeared in Matt Damon’s film The Adjustment Bureau. He also portrayed rapper Tupac Shakur in the film Notorious. I have a feeling he has more roles, awards and nominations coming his way soon!
Playing the Falcon was no easy feat. Mackie said he had to work out for five months to do the movie but it must have paid off because he said he was impressed with himself. He said he looked like he was 18 again! Paid off it did indeed, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is breaking box office records and has brought in a record-breaking April first weekend total at nearly $100 million.
Every week I DVR The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. I don’t have time to watch them all so I go through to find actors that I want to watch and I’ll fast forward through them. Anthony Mackie was on both shows recently and I wanted to share these with you to see why he’s such a great guy. He’s especially over-excited on Jimmy Fallon. He has a lot to be excited about. Besides being the first African-American superhero, he’s in the number one movie in the world! Watch below as he talks The Falcon.
It was definitely like you’d try to find those moments where you can stop and have the frozen in the air pose, yay, jump. And this was one of those moments.
When I first started acting I was like, there are two things I want to do. I want to be a superhero. And I want to do a Western, preferably with Clint Eastwood. And, then Morgan Freeman took my role in UNFORGIVEN. And, uh, [LAUGHS] bastard! When I got this call, I put things in perspective. I feel like a lot of people are famous for different reasons. Some people are famous because they’re handsome. Some people are famous because they’re British. I’m very happy that I’m famous because I can act. And I feel like this is a job I got because I deserved it.
For me that was one of the most important things he said, “I’m famous because I can act.” Can you define your life in one sentence?
Q: When you found out you got the role as The Falcon and you worked with somebody like Hugh Jackman, who’s been working in a Marvel franchise for some time, did you call him up and ask him to give you any pointers?
No. I, I did not want to mess up my experience. I completely wanted to come into this naïve, ignorant and like my virginal eyes not knowing anything. It’s funny ’cause Sam [Samuel L. Jackson] has done like 15 Marvel movies. And Chris [Chris Evans] and Scarlett [Scarlett Johansson] have done like 6 each. And you know, Sebastian [Sebastian Stan] has done 3.
So I was like, don’t kill my vibe. I’m having a good time, we’re doing a Marvel movie, we get the best craft services. You know, we’re in California. We basically shut down the city of Cleveland. I know how Denzel feels, you know. So I was soakin’ it up. Chris and I have a very good relationship. And literally got to the point where we would show up on set. And we were like seven-year-olds. I mean, we had that first day where it’s like, deal with 35-year-old men in costume.
We’re losers. And then the next day we started making fun of each other. Done it next week, done the next month. And then it just turned into this thing, where it became infectious. It’s fun when you go to work knowing you’re gonna make a quality product. Because as actors there’s so many people with daddy issues that mess up movies. You know, it’s like, oh, I’m gonna edit it this way or, I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school so I’m gonna do this. And it’s like, Dude, just make a movie! Workin’ with Marvel is one of those studios where you go to work and you know everybody leaves their stuff at the door. And they just want to make a good project. Once we got over our suits, we had a good time.
Q: What was it like wearing the costume?
The hardest working actors in Hollywood are flying superheroes. I said it, I don’t care what Thor says with his hammer. I don’t care what Wolverine — I don’t — if you fly, it sucks. And, it’s just the simple stuff.
I loved my costume, I loved everything about it. I love doing stunts. I have the best stuntman in the business. We’ve done like five movies together. And literally it’s like that Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny cartoon, where like the missile is coming and Daffy’s — Bugs Bunny’s like paused — puts Daffy in. And he just takes every — the brunt of every hit for me. And I love it. My first day on set I walk in, I’m like, “What’s up, yo. Falcon in the building, what’s up?” Right.
I get up on like a 60 foot platform. And I’m like, all right, let’s do this. You know, brother in the building. And they said, “All right, stand on the edge of the platform, there’s a jet coming at you. We want you to stand up, turn around, shoot your guns and jump back backwards head first, into this mat.” From 60 feet in the air. And I’m like, Ohhhhhhh! Whoa! The first day is usually like walking down a hallway, or like eating or something. You know, just to break you in. Not jumping off the platform to your death.
Once we did that, in the heat of the day, I kinda knew what I was in for. It just got worse from there. It was really painful and exhausting. Aaron Toney, my stuntman, literally fell out of a car at 40 miles an hour. He got messed up on this movie. So kudos to him.
Q: What did you do to train and prepare for this film?
Salmon, chickens, tuna fish, asparagus. And a cup of brown rice at noon. Every day. For three months. I did it for high school football too.
When we played high school football we used to do these things called 2 a days. And basically six a.m. you wake up and you get ready, go to the gym for a hour. And you do cardio, just like Jane Fonda shit.
And then you come home, and you just rest and eat every three hours. Knowing at 7 p.m. you go to the gym, and literally lift whatever you can find, you lift it. For about a hour and a half. And then you go home and go to sleep. And then you wake up and do it again. For three months. And it was by far the most — I mean, it’s a lifestyle. Fitness is a lifestyle, you have to eat a certain way. You have to do a certain thing, you have to live a certain way. So you know, me and my homeboy Jack Daniels stopped talkin’. No more pizza, like all the things I love.
Me and my girlfriend Häagen-Dazs broke up. She French, it was crazy. I had to contain myself. And then I show up and Chris [Evans] looks like a Greek god. And I’m feeling good about myself, I’m like Spandex ready, you know. And I show up and he’s like, Captain, you know, tiny ass. And I’m like, “Dude, how’d you get your ass that small?” And I’m like, man size. Like, errrrrrrrrrrrrrr I can lift the whole building. And I look at his [Chris Evans’ butt] and I’m like, “What did you do, what did you do to it?”
I put my costume on, everybody was like, “Damn, we got to let out the air.” But I made it through it. I got together with my girlfriend Häagen-Dazs. It was a grueling three months.
Q: What was it like when you first put on The Falcon costume?
It was great the first time I put that costume on. I mean literally I couldn’t stop smiling, I was running around the room. It’s one of those moments where you just have to allow yourself to enjoy it. You just have to allow yourself to be in the moment and enjoy it.
It was 45 minutes to get in my costume. It was like five minutes to get out it. But it was fun, I really took every moment to enjoy being a super hero. So yeah it was a good time.
Q: What was it like to work with Scarlett Johansson The Black Widow?
Scarlett is just a regular chick. You expect her to be a diva or high maintenance or catty or need this. Or just so — an actress. But she’s a regular chick and she’s really low maintenance and cool and fun to be around. And you know, she just goes with the flow. She’s extremely talented. So I feel like a lot of people compensate for not being talented with being bitchy. So she’s just like, “ Scarlett Johansson, let’s make it happen”.
Everybody’s like, “Oh, you’re Scarlett Johansson.” She walks on a set and all the dudes are like, “Ahhhhhhhhhh.” You know. So it was fun, it was a lot of fun, she’s a very really down to earth, fun, cool, just regular chick.
Q: How do you feel about being the first African-American superhero?
It’s funny you should ask that. It’s cool. When I was a kid, I really didn’t have that person I could look at, other than my dad, and be like, “Hey, I want to be that guy and fly through the window.” You couldn’t be seven years old and say, “Who do you want to be for Halloween?” “Shaft,” you know.
It’s really exciting. The biggest thing — and it always makes me emotional. When I first got this role I just cried like a baby because I was like, “Wow, next Halloween, I’m gonna open the door and there’s gonna be a little kid dressed as the Falcon.” That’s the thing that always gets me. So I feel like everybody deserves that. I feel like there should be a Latino super hero. I feel like Scarlett does great representation for all the girls.
There should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that. There’s so many of these little people out here doing awful things for money, in the world of being famous. And little girls see that. They should have the opposite spectrum of that to look up to.
Mackie went on to tell us a very funny, true story.
There’s this craft store called Michael’s. My sister knits. She goes to Michael’s. Every now and then I’ll go there for something. My sister called me and she’s like, “Oh my god, I’m at Michael’s, picking up yarn.” And, uh, “You have a poster at Michael’s.” I’m like, what? She’s like, “There’s a poster, there’s a Falcon poster at Michael’s. I’m like, holy shit. She like, “I’m gonna come and pick you up, and we’re gonna see your poster in this store.” So I’m like, “Man, this is my oldest sister,” all right. So she picks me up. We get in the car, we go to Michael’s, we hurry up. [CAR DRIVING AND BRAKING NOISES]
We get to Michael’s. We go in, and I see the poster and I’m like, “Oh, this is….” She’s like, “I know, I know.” I said, “I’m gonna sign these posters.” I was like, “That would be amazing, you buy a poster and it’s like, actually signed by the Falcon.” Like, it would blow my mind. So I go to the front, I buy a Sharpie, I run back to the back of the store. And she’s like, “I’m gonna take a picture of you signing it.” So I’m in this store and I’m signing all the posters. The manager comes out, he’s like, “Hey, whatcha doing?” I was like, “Oh man, I’m signing these posters so when people buy ‘em, they’re signed.” He’s like, “Well, people are not gonna buy ‘em if they’re signed.”
And I was like, “No no no, it’s cool, I’m pretty sure there won’t be a problem.” And he goes, “Yeah, but it is gonna be a problem, you’re messin’ up my inventory.” And I’m like, “No, my man, trust me, I mean, I’m the — that, that’s me!” And he goes, “Yeah, right. You’re gonna buy those posters.” I said, “What?” He’s like, “You’re gonna buy all those posters or I’m gonna call the police.” So I’m trying to get the posters for people to buy, and trust me, it’s goin’ — He’s like, “Let’s go to the front, you’re buying the posters.”
He rolls up all the posters and goes to the front of the store. And I had to buy like 60 Falcon posters that I signed in my Michael’s. So that’s how I’m just enjoying it. Man, there’s so many bad things that happen to us at entertainers and actors, that I feel like, when something good happen, you should take full advantage of it.
Q: The Falcon goes back to the ‘60s. Which versions of the Falcon did you go back to for the character to draw on?
The Falcon is interesting because if you look at the Falcon, the reason I commend Marvel for putting the Falcon in this movie is, the Falcon’s history is something very unique to the comic book world. Usually in comic books they’ll introduce a character, if it doesn’t hit they’ll just let ‘em fall off into the sunset. But with the Falcon, Marvel made a unique choice to get him right. He had about three or four different incarnations in the life of the comic book. If you read like in the ‘60s, he was a hustler from Harlem, that moved to California and became a pimp.
You know, keepin’ it real. And flew to Brazil to pick up some drugs. Crashed and was drug into a lab and made the Falcon. The second incarnation, then the third incarnation where he became a military technician and a military expert. And then the Falcon that we know now. So as African-American culture evolved in America, so did the Falcon. And that’s very unusual, not only for the Falcon but for anybody or any character in any movie or anything.
I tried to stay away from the source material because I felt like what the writers gave me with this was a very, you know, it’s the introduction of the Falcon. So whatever I give you, that’s who he is. For all the time in all the Marvel movies. I just took what I had in the script, and worked primarily on that. I felt like the military history he had, and the relationship he has with Steve in this movie, is much more important than who he was in the comic books. I felt like if that relationship was grounded in truth and it worked, the rest of the movie would work. So I really just focused on what exactly are the side effects and repercussions of PTSD?
How exactly do you overcome that? And when it’s overcome is it like drugs, is it a work in progress everyday? Or is it like something, once you’re over it you’re over it and I’m good. Or is it person to person stuff like that? I just asked a bunch of different questions along those lines. So a lot of my research came from soldiers I’ve met during The Hurt Locker. And doing charitable work with the Navy and stuff. So I just emailed a bunch of guys and got a lot of stuff online, a lot of videos. Lot of depositions. With soldiers coming back and just talking about their experiences and where they are now. I just used that stuff and tried to ground him [The Falcon] in the history that was him, as opposed to the history that was the comic book.
Dive deeper into the Falcon’s character from Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier!
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