Let me state the obvious here: Sebastian Stan currently stars in Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, and you’re undoubtedly aware of his over-a-decade-long gig of portraying Bucky Barnes. The character’s been on one hell of a hellish journey, from being Captain America’s best friend to being the homicidal fist of HYDRA, and just last week, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gods finally allowed Bucky to let loose with a torrent of emotion. This happened during a heartbreaking and humanity-affirming scene, and finally, Sebastian could really stretch his acting legs in a Marvel film, but that’s no true surprise for those who have followed his career.
Sebastian has developed quite a habit of sneaking much smaller-budgeted films into his schedule. While doing so, he often ends up being the most underrated presence in a vast ensemble of talented actors (while he reliably steals some scenes). That’s the case with his mustached portrayal of Jeff Gillooly, for example, in I, Tonya and his disturbingly dirty cop in The Devil All The Time. His career is peppered with performances alongside many of the greats, going way back to portraying Sigourney Weaver’s son in Political Animals and Meryl Streep’s kid in Ricki and The Flash. His showier projects include Gossip Girl and The Martian, but Stan finds time to indulge in indie-land whenever possible. His latest project, Monday, sees him (and co-star Denise Gough) giving us a very different romantic story what we usually see onscreen.
Monday is a sensually rendered tale of two Americans living in Athens, Greece. They fall into a whirlwind romance and soon find that a passionate weekend can turn into a relationship, but not all goes as planned. Let’s just say that love can interrupt life, and life can interrupt love. And the “Friday” phase of relationships can be full of abandon, but how do we deal with those dreaded Mondays? Sebastian was cool enough to hop on a Zoom call with us to discuss this movie (which was very much shot on location, no MCU green screen anywhere) and how much he’s drawn to strong female co-stars. He was also gracious enough to indulge a gut-punch of a question about his Marvel character.
You’ve got the Marvel thing going on and you are promoting Monday, but I’m gonna start by congratulating you on the fifteenth anniversary of The Covenant.
Oh my god, the fifteenth anniversary! Dear god.
That movie’s quite the guilty pleasure.
And you know what? Some of my best friends came from that movie, and I’m still friends with them today because of that movie.
You were doing a Jack Nicholson villainy vibe there, but there’s no Nicholson vibe in Monday. Can we talk about the title of this movie and how people shouldn’t be afraid of Mondays before watching it?
Well, you won’t have to deal with Monday in this movie until the very, very end, maybe even the last seconds, so you’ll actually be dealing with Fridays for about ninety percent of the movie. And if you wanna remember what the world used to be like, maybe you should watch it. Not to be nostalgic about it, but once we come out of this into the roaring ’20s, maybe we should be grateful to see each other and be around each other and hug each other, you know?
It’s also a beautifully shot film. Greece, man. I bet you got to soak in some culture.
Of course! Everything was in Greece! And very literally on location. We were there a couple of weeks beforehand. We even took a road trip, and we went to a lot of restaurants, and I think we really got to bond that way, and it helped with the movie because we’d talk about it (and talk about it some more), and spending time together was very important for the making of this.
Obviously, it’s a different kind of romantic story. What drew you to that darker edge?
Because it was trying to be honest, and it wasn’t trying to sugar coat anything. It was just giving it you straight, and in a way, it’s very much that nobody likes Monday, but we’re all going to end up waking up in Monday at some point, so you know, you can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. And you can only run away from it for so long before you crash into the wall, and I think the idea of relationships — particularly now, as I feel that technology continues to get in the way of how we connect, more and more — begs for us to continue to sort-of explore relationships in a truer sense. Let’s not cater constantly to how sometimes, people want to watch a movie about how great things can be. We should also just be mindful of the things that happen sometimes in relationships and how messy they are and how unpredictable they can be. They can start out one way and often surprise you in good ways but also in bad ways.
Things get dramatic. On that note, your co-star, Denise, is seriously talented.
How did you make your chemistry feel so authentic?
We did rehearse a little bit, but Argyris [Papadimitropoulos, director] didn’t want us to rehearse too much, and that was very interesting because Denise is from a theater background, and myself, I’m also very script-oriented, and this was a movie where the script was always changing. I think we had to have a lot of patience with this process and how it was going to be a different process, but a lot of it came from building trust with each other. Building a sense of trust with each other is very important as you go into these things, especially with a movie like that. And by the end, it was sort-of hard to say goodbye, and even now, we have these moments when we’re like, “We’re coming back to Greece!”
Not a bad idea, if you can swing it.
I’ve actually returned to Greece a few times since the ending of this movie, and I will continue to do so because of the people and how everybody is down there, and how (in the country) we were so embraced.
Outside of Marvel, I’ve noticed that you’ve done lots of films with ladies who have a commanding presence.
Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep! I could continue listing names, but I’m sensing a pattern here.
More often than not, I’m very grateful that these just happen to be great projects as well, but look, I grew up with a very strong single mother, and before that, I was very close to my grandmother. And I don’t know, I gravitate toward strong women, I guess! I feel more comfortable there than I’ve honestly felt with any ginormous, super-male-action-whatever-you-want-to-call-them film. And I’ve always felt like I’ve seen the best version of myself in those situations, you know, in terms of what those particular women, and also actors, have brought out in me by circumstances of working opposite them. So it’s like a cyclical thing for me, but I do feel very lucky. I’m looking back and I’m like, “Wow, I really did get lucky to work with some really unbelievable actresses.” And there’s this movie I’ve done that hasn’t even come out yet with Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz and Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o, man, I just don’t know [how it happened].
We’ve gotta wrap here, so I can’t help throwing a Marvel question at you. One of my favorite interviews of yours took place at a Wizard World event back (in 2014) when Bucky first became the Winter Soldier, and someone asked you and Anthony Mackie how you’d prefer for your MCU characters to die. You said that the Winter Soldier would rip his arm off and beat himself to death with it —
[Bursts into laughter]
— a lot has happened since then, so would your answer be different now?
You want me to answer how Bucky would die?
It’s terrible, yes, but I really did just ask that.
Oh man, hopefully at this point, it would be in a nice warm bed as a 200-year-old man with a family. That’s his way now, I think he’s earned that.
I want to send Bucky to Aruba.
Yeah! [Starts singing a certain Beach Boys song] Aruba, Jamaica…
Alright, this day is made. Thank you for that one.
[Does a mini-dance move while seated. Continues humming “Kokomo.”]
IFC Films’ ‘Monday’ will open on Friday, April 16 in select theaters (the pandemic is obviously making things tough there) and on VOD.