First of all, yes, Wyatt Russell has seen your memes about him. Well, at least he admits to seeing one meme, the version that compares his version of Captain America to Carl Fredricksen, better known as “the guy from Up.” And Russell thinks the person who made that meme should get some sort of trophy.
Due to secrecy, Russsell had no idea exactly who the character was he was even auditioning for. And when he learned it was Captain America, he literally told Marvel they had the wrong guy and they’d “lose a lot of money.” (This response is hilarious since I have to imagine it’s probably the worst thing you can tell a movie studio after you get a job.)
Ahead, Russell dives into explaining his interpretation of John Walker (he says the story-line of the comics just confuses him) and why he still took the job even though he was convinced Marvel “would lose a lot of money.” But, first, anytime I talk to Russell I have to mention the fake name he gave himself back when he played hockey in Germany to avoid the whole “that’s Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn’s son” thing.
Hey, it’s Namco Steinhoff.
[Laughs] Namco Steinhoff! I was just telling that story the other day.
I went back and read some of that interview, and I think in the intro I said something like, oh yeah, he’s at an interesting part in his career where in three or four years he’s going to be famous. And here you are, you’re Captain America. Anyway, I was right.
Oh, god, look, you knew way better than me. I was sure that wasn’t going to happen.
I have to admit, I never looked at your character Willoughby in Everybody Wants Some!! and thought, you know, someday that’s Captain America.
I feel like, “No way. You’re wrong.”
Though it would be great if, now, you’re just as cocky as your character in interviews.
Oh yeah, all of a sudden I change. Like, “fuck everybody!” That would be a fun way to live your life.
Or people who ask what’s it like replacing Chris Evans as Captain America. And you say, look, Chris? He was great while he was around, but look, I’m here now and we’re going to do it my way.
[Laughs] Yeah, I’m glad you’re hitting the character on the head, because I think that’s what he would say. Or, no, I guess that’s not what he would say. What he would say is he was trying to be respectful of the old Captain America and trying to set the record straight. I think that’s part of what’s fun about playing the character. What I like about him is that he’s one way on the surface, but is he that way, really? You think he would be cocky and you think he’s saying those things, but I think in private, you kind of see, oh, maybe he’s not that guy that he’s presenting to us.
It sounds like it wasn’t that hard to relate with playing this character. In that you have to tell people, “Hey, I’m Captain America now,” and going out there and trying to convince people that this is the case.
Yeah, it’s true. Nothing as it seems in life and I think that’s what I like about this character. That’s kind of one of the things that we’re watching, is that nothing is as it seems and he is a good example of that, hopefully. You find out things about him and things he’s been through that have affected his personality, affected his persona, the way he’s lived in his life. You start to understand more when you peel back the layers of the onion and you start to understand why he is the way he is a little bit more.
Well, were you actually anxious taking this over? Because this sounds like a really fun character to play. It’s not like you’re replacing Chris Evans as Steve Rogers. John Walker seems really fun to play because there’s a lot going on and you can be kind of a jerk, but also a good guy. It’s the best of both worlds.
I think so, and I think that’s why I ended up doing it. When they first were like, all right, you got it! I’m like, okay, well, what is it? They were like, oh, it’s Captain America. I was like, oh god. No, I don’t think I’m your guy. I think you got the wrong person. I think you’re going to lose a lot of money. I’m not the pick you want. Then they were like, “No, no, here’s what we’re thinking.” And I was like, okay, that’s very interesting. They pulled the curtain back for you a little bit, to a degree. And once that happened, I saw the potential.
Look, you’ve been very successful in your career, and maybe it’s not my place to point anything out like this, but when someone offers you a role and you say back, “you’re going to lose a lot of money,” that’s probably the worst thing you can say, right? That’s probably the last thing they want to hear?
[Laughs] Absolutely. Of course, man, at least I wanted to tell them the truth. You’re better off telling the truth than you are faking it, because someone’s eventually going to find you out. Someone’s going to eventually go, wait a second, every movie you’ve been in has not made money, and therefore … but this one did great, so I was wrong.
Did you go back and look at John Walker’s history? Your version of this character seems to have more bona fides. He actually saw action, wherein the comics it was the ’80s and there wasn’t really a war, and so he seemed mad he never got to fight in a war.
Yeah, I tried to Wikipedia John Walker, and it makes you more confused when you start reading stuff. It was like, what the hell? There are nine million storylines. I stopped reading about five minutes into trying to figure out what he was in the comics. So this one was different from certain iterations of it. And I think they always do a good job of finding what I believe is the most interesting through-line for these people. But I didn’t do a lot of reading, because once you start reading, literally, it’ll make you more confused.
It doesn’t help.
Are you enjoying the memes?
I’ve only seen one meme. And the meme that I saw, whoever, overlord of the internet, should give this person an award for realizing that that picture of me, that screengrab of me in that helmet, looks exactly like the man from Up. It’s like, fucking classic. It’s the best. It’s the best one. It looks so funny. I don’t know, there’s something about that, it cracked me up.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.