Listen carefully and you’ll hear a tiny southern twang way in the back of Anthony Mackie’s voice. It comes despite 11 years of classes in acting for film, TV, and stage. It breaks through his molded diction training from New York’s prestigious Julliard School. Fragmented roots of New Orleans poke through Mackie’s vocal chords, blooming into Cajun spicy abrasive tones that come from the down-to earth heart of his Louisiana childhood home.
But today, Mackie is a long way from the humid Bayou shores of the Gulf Coast. Stepping into oversized shoes, or rather, wings of Falcon – Marvel’s first black superhero – 34-year-old Mackie has flown the world hoping and preparing for a massive positive response to his appearance as Steve Rogers’ new best friend in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sure, roles beside Matt Damon in the 2011 The Adjustment Bureau, or next to Jeremy Renner in 2008’s Oscar winner The Hurt Locker were huge. Even the risk he took playing Tupac Shakur in 2009’s Notorious was a memorable moment of his 13 year career. But none of these characters can compare to the wing span of Falcon, the role that will likely soar Mackie to new, outrageous, skyscraper heights that span the planet and stretch far out into the Marvel universe.
The second, action-packed installment of the Captain America series, this sequel stars Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce). Updating the original comic book storyline of Falcon’s Harlem hustler roots, in this screen version Mackie is a standout DC soldier. Thirsty and hungry for something new, he finds himself pulled into Captain America’s cavalry while on the run from the super assassin, Winter Soldier.
In this exclusive video interview with The Shadow League, Anthony Mackie discusses working with Jackson, Redford, and the tireless work and payoff that will come in simply seeing little boys dressed as Falcon for Halloween.
Raqiyah Mays: Black superhero. That’s a big deal…
Anthony Mackie: I think being a superhero is a big deal. I wish they would do the Wonder Woman movie. I think little girls need someone to look up to. I feel like Halle Berry being Storm was a monumental feat for young little brown girls to look up to. So I’m happy. I’m looking forward to little boys walking around as Falcon for Halloween.
RM: You’ve been quoted as saying, “I’d love to play a superhero.” Does this mean you’ve finally made it?
AM: I think so. If I haven’t I will have made it on April 4th. Yeah, my dream getting into this business, I said I wanted to be a superhero. And I wanted to do a western, preferably with Clint Eastwood. So when Morgan Freeman took my role in Unforgiven, I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll be a superhero.’
RM: (laughing) In this film, you get to work with Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson. What did you learn from them or about them that you didn’t know before?
AM: Well, I’ve known both of them for a long time now. If you like wine, Robert Redford has the best Pinot Noir in America hands down. But work wise, Robert Redford is a director, producer, filmmaker, the Sundance Institute is his. And when he showed up on set, and never gave any gripes, headaches anything, he played the role of an actor on set. And he gave the Russo brothers the greatest opportunity to direct him. And not too many people can do that when they’re in the position of wearing many hats. So I admired him for having the humility, also the confidence to step back and just be an actor.
RM: And Sam Jackson?
AM: Sam Jackson. Oh, Sam… (laughing)
This is my fourth movie I’ve done with Sam. He’s a huge mentor to me, a fan of Anthony Mackie. And the great thing is he’s always taught me how to be a man in the world of film. When he steps on set, he knows everybody’s name, he shakes everybody’s hand, and he does his work. And he does it with pride and dedication and that’s something you don’t find too often.
RM: So all the little boys out there will see you on screen with these big old wings. What do you want to say to them? What do you want them to know?
AM: I want them to know that hard work pays off. I’ve been doing this for 13 years. I was taking acting classes for 11 years. I’ve done over 36 movies. I’ve never been nominated, asked to present, asked to do anything in any way shape or form. But when Marvel called and told me I can be the Falcon, my childhood dream came true. And that’s strictly because of the hard work I put into it. So hard work does pay off.