Captain America: Civil War Set Interview: Anthony Mackie

When we sat down with Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner on the set of Captain America: Civil War at Pinewood Atlanta Studios last summer, they felt happy and comfortable having steady supporting roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and didn't seem keen on having to lead a Marvel movie on their own. But there's no one happier than Anthony Mackie to be player for #TeamCap in the franchise.

The group of online journalists in attendance thankfully had the chance to chat with Mackie solo on this set visit (read all about it here) and we took the opportunity to ask him about his role in Captain America 3, his interest in getting his own Marvel superhero movie, and a bunch of other unrelated craziness.

Brace yourselves for the most out of control, hilarious interview we've ever conducted on the set of a feature film. We bring you, Anthony Mackie:

We saw in Ultron that Falcon gets to be an Avenger. Do we find out in this movie what that means to him to now be a part of this team?

Anthony Mackie: Definitely. I think the Russos and everybody are very specific about The Falcon's storyline and how he feels about Steve and the rest of The Avengers. The idea of him becoming an Avenger is pretty cool. He's pretty excited about it. We definitely get an element of that in the film.

Is Anthony also very excited about that?

Anthony Mackie: Uh, yeah! It's weird. You never know. They never send you the whole script. Like when they asked me to do Avengers (Age of Ultron) they sent me two scenes. There are two hours and seven minutes around those two scenes, but I never got to read it.

When we were at the premiere I was like “Aw, cool.” I'm with my son and he gets to see his daddy in two scenes in The Avengers. Then, by the end of the movie I turn around and they're like “Avengers Assemble!” I'm like, “HOLY SHIT! I'M AN AVENGER!” So I turn around to everybody with me and they were like, “Dude! You're a fuckin' Avenger!” “This is fuckin' amazing.” So, that's the story of my Marvel life.

When you filmed that scene you had no idea of the context at all?

Anthony Mackie: I had no idea. I flew in, Chris and Scarlett are up top and the rest of us are standing there. It was like “Cut. Anthony fly in. Action. Hrm-hrm-hrm. Cut. Alright, thanks!” That was pretty much it. So, you know, six months later you go to a premiere and you shit yourself.

Everybody was like “Why are you so excited?” I'm like, “Arrhhhahhh... I just found out I'm an Avenger!” That's pretty much how it happened over and over. That's how Cap 2 happened, over and over and over again. So, I'm used to it. I'm interested to see what's going to happen with this movie.

What's it like being part of this team? What's the dynamic like between Falcon and the rest of them?

Anthony Mackie: It's really cool. With being an Avenger there's not really a hierarchy. Everybody gets to make decisions, everybody's put in a position to save the day as opposed to standing there while one person flies in and saves the day and you're like, “Good job!” Avengers is really a team effort.

I feel like if you watch the first one, it wasn't about Tony saving the day by flying up into the... hole? I don't know. Fuck. Flying into the hole with the nuke, but it was moreso about everybody doing their own thing to make that happen. I feel like that theme carries on into a lot of Marvel movies, where it's a team effort as opposed to one guy's effort.

Do you recommend any more awesome music to Cap in this movie?

Anthony Mackie: I do not. I recommend music to Chris, but not Cap. (makes a scrunchy face) Strange taste, dawg. Strange taste. But not Cap, no.

You say there's no hierarchy in the Avengers, but Sam and Steve have a real tight connection. In this film, which is about conflict between heroes, is it fair to say that these two guys are still tight or is this going to test their bond?

Anthony Mackie: I think their relationship carries over from when I was introduced in Cap 2 and you saw a little bit of in Avengers. There's definitely a confidence and respect with the two of them. You get to see more of that. I think our relationship is more of mano a mano as opposed to mano and friend. It's not so much that it's challenged, just made stronger.

In Age of Ultron Sam was sort of on the case in trying to find The Winter Soldier. Is that the case this time? Is there a side mission to track down this character?

Anthony Mackie: Um. It's... yeah. No. I can't answer that. (laughs)

Will we get to see Red Wing at all?

Anthony Mackie: I hope so. I hope so. I'm looking forward to it. I told you, I can't wait to see this movie! I just found out I was an Avenger, like, 3 weeks ago, dude! I have no fuckin' idea!

What's something you get to do in this movie that you haven't done previously that you're excited about?

Anthony Mackie: In this movie I get to interact with everybody as opposed to just interacting with Cap. I get to continue my (un)dying love affair with Black Widow, which is good. I think moreso in this one that I didn't get to do before is become my own person. Now everyone knows who I am, so it's not “Who's the flying guy?” It's more, “Hey, Falcon's here.” You get to see my relationship with everyone else has grown as opposed to being the new guy on the team.

We were talking with Jeremy (Renner) and he said everybody's getting costume upgrades. Is Falcon upgraded as well?

Anthony Mackie: Yeah, we've all been Tony Stark-erized. We've all had major upgrades to our costumes and stuff like that. Jeremy still has those indispensable arrows that come out of nowhere and just rejuvenate out of his back. I don’t know. And Elizabeth still has her angry rave thing going on. We've all had upgrades.

Stark did those upgrades?

Anthony Mackie: I would guess. He's kinda like the guy that upgrades everything. It's either him or Hydra, so I'm pretty sure since we're with him that he did them all.

How much of your suit, like the wings, is actually physical on your person while you're shooting?

Anthony Mackie: They 100% add all the wings. I realized yesterday how stupid we look. They're like “We need you to run, but before you break into a full run pop your arms out so your wings can extend and you'll fly.” I was like, “Okay, alright. I'm 36. Let's do it.” We were running and it's so hot. It's balls hot. So, I'm running and my goggles are filling up with water, right? I don't know how women do this, but it's torture. The makeup starts getting into the corners of my eyes, so I start crying. But it's so hot... I can't really see anything and they're like “So, hold your arms out and just... fly away.” I was like, “Let's just do it, dude. Fuck it, let's do it.” (laughs)

So, the wings are real in my mind not on set. They have these little wings, like these little three foot wings. I do this shit, then I have to do it with the little wings, so I look like a quail or a pheasant. It's whatever. I'm happy about it. I'm happy to be an Avenger!

There's a split between Steve and Tony. Where do you find your character? Do you immediately side with Rogers? How do you approach this disagreement?

Anthony Mackie: I think the conflict is moreso between them. I don't think anyone else chooses sides. I think we're all on Steve and Tony's side. The conflict is more with them and we step back and watch it unfold.

They've talked about this being a very global movie. Is there any specific location you're excited about at all?

Anthony Mackie: The thing about Avengers 1 that was so cool was they were in New York. I was like “Damn!” I really wanted to go shoot a few days in New York, but we were, like, in Birmingham, Alabama. It was like... “Why are we shooting here? Why are we doing Atlanta for Birmingham?”

We have a bunch of different locations, but I really wanted it to be a major city like New York or LA.

But you were in Birmingham, Alabama?

Anthony Mackie: No, why would we shoot in Birmingham? I was using that as an example. Have you ever been to Birmingham?!?

One of the journalists says, “I'm from there.”

Anthony Mackie: Wait, you're from Alabama or Birmingham?


Anthony Mackie: Are you from Birmingham, Alabama?


Anthony Mackie: Alright. Go to Birmingham. It's bananas! You drive through that motherfucker and make it out alive. Yeah. Go to Birmingham. Just check it out, dawg. I drive to New Orleans once every two weeks and literally, I hit Birmingham and I'm like (looks terrified, hands on an invisible steering wheel). Literally just look at the front of the car. Don't look out the window. Don't look out the window.

I have this picture... There was this dude in a truck and he was hauling ass. He was in a Toyota truck, so that tells you what kind of dude he was. Who the fuck buys a Toyota truck? So, he had, like, deer legs hanging out of the back of his truck, like tied up and out. It was like one, two, three, four deers. Then there was some other animal. It wasn't a deer. The legs... I don't know what it was, but it was hanging, like he had it tied from a rack, I guess it was a gun rack, out the back window... Carcasses. Driving. And leaving a trail of blood as he drives down the highway.

Don't look, dawg. Keep going. Whatever that fifth thing is, don't look.

So, what music have you recommended to Chris?

Anthony Mackie: Uh, you know, he's an interesting guy, that Chris Evans. I've tried to help him understand... the greatest band in music history, pound for pound, they invented the crescendo... Earth Wind & Fire. I don't care what nobody say, I've never been sitting on my couch and was like, “Man! Put on that Doobie Brothers CD!” Never happened. And I love the Doobie Brothers, alright? Never happened, alright?

So, Earth Wind & Fire is the greatest band of all time. If you don't believe it and have iTunes I will give you forty bucks. Download forty songs and it'll blow your mind. Blow your mind, alright? Greatest songwriter of all time, pound of pound, I don't care what nobody says... I don't care about his children... Lionel Richie. I don't care what nobody say. I don't care. I never was on my couch and was like, “Man! Barry Manilow made me cry!” Never happened. Lionel Richie. Earth Wind & Fire. That's it.

But he don't believe that! And it confuses the shit outta me! How do you... It's Lionel Richie. I guarantee you, I put on Say You Say Me you're going to say “Damn. I need to text her right now.” I guarantee you! If I put on Dancing On The Ceiling you're going to go, “Shit. Ugggggghhh.” Because all you're going to want to do is “Whooo!” That’s all you want to do. Fuck that. Lionel Richie.

If you can't get a girl with Lionel Richie? You a loser. All of my high school years, every time I wrote a girl a note it was literally sixteen bars of Lionel Richie and then I would sign it “Anthony Mackie.” She would be, “Oh, my God. You're such a poet.” I said, “I know, baby. I know. So cultured. I'm a poet. I'm just a renaissance man in my heart. I can build shelves and I can write poetry.”

I don't know how we go back to the movie after this.

Anthony Mackie: (laughs) I'm just saying, call your girl and recite one of Shakespeare's sonnets and she's going to go “Ugh, what the fuck are you talking about?” Call her and recite one Lionel Richie song. You're going to be tazing her off you. Real talk.

I don't know, maybe you don't want to taze her off. That's cool. I don't know. Maybe you don't like tazing girls off you. That's cool. Knock yourself out.

So, in this movie... (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: (laughs)

Since you mentioned that your character interacts with a lot of others, is it fun for you to see what your character makes out of folks like The Vision or some of these other characters?

Anthony Mackie: Definitely. Vision is by far the easiest person to make fun of. He's always a good target. Vision is definitely my one guy because he's easy to make fun of. And Tony Stark. I don't know why everybody thinks Tony's cool, and Tony thinks he's really cool, but Falcon just thinks he's a nerd.

And not like a cool millennium nerd. Nowadays you see a nerd and they're, like, hot chicks and they're like “I'm a nerd!” and you're like “What's up?” I'm talking about a 1985 nerd. Naw, kid. You don't win. Naw.

What's Falcon's reaction to Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch?

Anthony Mackie: Do you mean, like, in the metaphorical sense when me as Anthony who plays Falcon, saw the movie and saw Scarlet Witch in it? I went deep with that.

No, I mean the dynamic between you and them in this movie.

Anthony Mackie: Are they in this movie? Ant-Man and Scarlet Witch?


Anthony Mackie: Okay.


Anthony Mackie: Hey, man. If you got the script, pass it to me. I'd love to check it out. I'm sure it's a good read. (laughs) It's funny. I think he likes Ant-Man. Ant-Man is another character that when I see (him) in the movie I just don't get, you know? You're an ant...

I'm being used strategically to ask the audience's questions, like prime example... In Avengers (Age of Ultron) when Jeremy and Scarlet Witch are talking and he's like “Look, we're adults. I'm wearing a suit. I have arrows. I'm not cool, but we have to go out here and fight.” I feel like that's been the audience's perspective of his character since you first read the comic book.

In this movie there's some more of that as well. I'm more the audience's perspective, so when Scarlet Witch is all (does rave hands) I'm like, “You saw that? Right. Just making sure you fuckin' saw that.” Scarlet Witch and her crazy rave baby technique and Ant-Man and him riding an ant. Alright, cool. That's what he does, he shrinks and rides ants.

Are we going to get a glimpse at your character's personal life in any way?

Anthony Mackie: No, people don't come to Marvel movies for personal life subplots, no. If you literally are watching this movie and we go, “On a side note, Falcon is over here trying to get a date at a coffee shop,” you would shoot yourself in the face. You literally would.

It’s like, “where's Falcon?” “Ah, he's at the coffee shop on Tinder again.” (laughs) That would be the worst.

I disagree!

Anthony Mackie: (laughs) My non-ending quest to figure out Tinder! “How do I upload my picture? My wings don't fit!” That would be awful.

Somewhere on Tumblr you're going to find fan art of Falcon sitting in a coffee shop on Tinder

Another journalist chimes in: Probably get some art of him on Grindr, too.

Anthony Mackie: What is Grindr?

(Silence, then huge laughter)

Anthony Mackie: If you compare it to Tinder I have a pretty good idea what Grindr is.

It's Tinder for gay guys.

Anthony Mackie: That's so awful. Who came up with that name?!?

Someone who's rich now.

Anthony Mackie: He's a sexist pig. Whoever named it Grindr is awful. Sorry, sorry. I'm gonna write him a fuckin' email. Gay people aren't tender to each other. Gay people GRIND each other. That's awful.

You said before that you don't see Falcon as Captain America. Do you still believe that?

Anthony Mackie: No, no, no. I definitely see him as Cap. I mean, I have the comic books. It's more... I really enjoy coming to work with the people I work with and I'd rather be in a great movie with a bunch of cool people than a standalone superhero movie with just me standing there looking like a fucking idiot.

I mean, not too many people can say they love what they do and they really like the people they work with. I mean, Sebastian is my dude. Chris is my dude. Paul has become my dude. Jeremy has been my dude for almost 10 years now. You get to come to work with your friends!

I did a movie last year that Paul Bettany directed. If you take all that away just so I could be number one on a call sheet? My ego is well intact. I'm really cool with being that tall (holds up fingers an inch apart) on the poster.

But if it happens... I'll shit myself again. If it happens I will buy and rename Grindr.

(laughs) Thank you.

Anthony Mackie: Thank you for coming. Y'all stay cool.

More: Captain America: Civil War Set Visit Report & Interviews

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results  in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd and Frank Grillo, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.

Anthony & Joe Russo are directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.

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Captain America: Civil War Set Interview: Anthony Mackie