ENTERTAINMENT

'The Falcon And The Winter Soldier' Star Anthony Mackie Muses On Rise To The Top

From battling Eminem in "8 Mile" to being handed the Captain America shield in "Avengers: Endgame," Mackie has been through a lot.

Anthony Mackie, who plays the superhero Falcon in the Captain America and Avengers films, talked about his hopes for the upcoming Disney+ show “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and reflected on his journey through show business in a Variety interview published on Wednesday.

As every superhero fan must know, Falcon was offered Captain America’s iconic shield at the end of “Avengers: Endgame” with the hint that he would carry that shield into the near future. Mackie, 42, said that after a lengthy career in movies that had often seen him in supporting roles, he was “surprised and affected” by the opportunity. 

“I’ve been in this business a long time, and I did it the way they said you’re supposed to do it,” Mackie told Variety. “I didn’t go to LA 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.”

The actor mentioned his rap battle against Eminem in 2002’s “8 Mile” as the first “monumental step” of his career. As for Eminem, he won an Oscar for best original song.

Mackie said he carried the energy of that performance onward into 2006’s “Half Nelson,” an independent film that won Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination.

Then there was 2008’s “The Hurt Locker,” where Mackie acted alongside Jeremy Renner, who also received an Oscar nomination and later became one of Mackie’s co-stars in the “Avengers” franchise.

“It was the joke for a long time,” said Mackie. “If you’re a white dude and you want to get nominated for an Oscar, play opposite me. I bring the business for white dudes.” (The actor had previously stated that he took a year off from acting after “The Hurt Locker,” feeling like the Oscars had snubbed him.)

Anthony Mackie (left) as Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier in a scene from "The Falcon and the Win
Anthony Mackie (left) as Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes the Winter Soldier in a scene from "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier."

“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” set to debut on March 19, will finally be Mackie’s time to shine ― a prospect the actor said was both exciting and intimidating.

“I didn’t think we could do on the television what we’d been doing on the big screen,” said Mackie. “I didn’t want to be the face of the first Marvel franchise to fail. Like, ‘See? We cast the Black dude, and now this shit is awful.’ That was a huge fear of mine, and also a huge responsibility with playing a Marvel character.”

But the depth of the show’s scripts calmed those fears.

Mackie added that Falcon is different from other heroes in Marvel’s lineup ― including Black Panther, the most prominent other Black character on the roster ― because Falcon is an everyman, not a king or a god.

“I’m basically the eyes and ears of the audience, if you were put in that position where you could go out and fight alongside superheroes,” Mackie said. “It adds a really nice quality to him, that he’s a regular guy who can go out there and do special things.”

Read the full interview here.