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Sebastian Stan on the Winter Soldier's redemption quest in Captain America: Civil War

‘Your Bucky…’

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Steve Rogers doesn’t have a lot of soft spots, but Crossbones knows just where to hit him.

In Captain America: Civil War, Chris Evans’ supersoldier comes face-to-what’s-left-of-face with Frank Grillo’s mercenary from 2014’s The Winter Soldier in the middle of a new Avengers takedown of a terrorist act in progress.

After a brawl that ends with Crossbones on his knees, Cap rips the metallic, skull-shaped mask off as his foe mutters: “You know… he remembered you. Your pal… your buddy… your Bucky.”

Crossbones, then known as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Brock Rumlow, was one of the secret HYDRA operatives inside that organization who knew about the bio-engineered assassin named the Winter Soldier. This brainwashed killer had a robotic arm, enhanced abilities, and an empty mind that could be filled with any order – and he was built out of the broken remains of Bucky Barnes, Cap’s best friend from the World War II days, who was presumed dead after falling off a train riding along a frozen mountain pass.

After facing Barnes as an enemy in the Captain America sequel, Rogers was left wondering whether any of his old friend was left inside.

Now he knows.

“Your Bucky …”

In Civil War, Cap has gone from fighting the Winter Soldier to protecting him, and the fact that Iron Man and the rest of the world wants to annihilate Barnes puts Cap on the wrong side of the law.

During EW’s set visit to Civil War, here’s what Sebastian Stan had to say about his character – who’s really two characters, and now, maybe three.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What have you done so far in Civil War that’s exciting for you?

Sebastian Stan: Oh, it’s so much fun. And it can be so nerve‑wracking, too. I’m really in awe of our stunt coordinators, Sam Hargrave and James Young. We had them on Winter Soldier and they’ve just given a whole different energy to these movies. The fighting is just very grounded. It’s brutal. It’s very physical. I kind of feel like I’m really learning how to fight, to be honest!

The last time we saw you in Winter Soldier, your character was defeated, and looking at his old face, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes in a museum display about his squad in World War II.

[Civil War] pretty much picks up where we last see him in the post‑credit scene in Winter Soldier. Not exactly at the museum, but it’s right around that time. It finds him right in the middle of making significant and terrifying discoveries about himself and his past. And that’s where he’s at the beginning of this movie.

Who is he now? Or is that the question he’s asking himself?

This movie certainly deals with what’s happened to him. I mean, what have we gotten as a result of Bucky and the Winter Soldier? You know, here’s the guy when you merge the two. This is what came out. To me, he’s never really going to be Bucky Barnes again. There’s going be recognizable things about him, but his path through the [experiences of] Winter Soldier is always going be there, haunting him. He recognizes his past, but at the same time he’s sort of a new character, too.

That has to be interesting to play as an actor.

It’s very crazy. It’s one of the greatest joys I have in playing this part because it’s like the three movies for me have been like three people, in a sense.

Even as a soldier in World War II, he seemed to go through heavy things. And he was just a man then, not juiced with any super-soldier serum.

I was trying for that. I can’t really go and think of a character that’s going to war in World War II and doesn’t have those side effects. Doesn’t have the burn. Bucky in that first movie, I was always thinking he’s gotta be a grounded character. He’s gotta be somebody that carries the effects of the war on him and throughout.

Bucky seems to be emerging from the fog of the Winter Soldier, but that’s a journey itself, right?

It doesn’t just suddenly all come back to him, just because he’s learned certain things about himself. It’s not like he immediately has all these emotions and feelings and point of views about people and families that he’s dealt with — or Steve. The knowledge is there, but the emotions aren’t explored yet, which also makes it very interesting to play.

Seems like Cap’s loyalty for his old friend is even stronger than the obligation and duty he feels as a soldier. He goes against Iron Man and the governments of the world to protect him.

Absolutely. I think that’s one of the neat things about this movie and the third installment for Steve Rogers. We get to see another side of him. I mean you’d wonder, right? After so many years of being loyal and morally impenetrable and always doing the right thing that he wouldn’t somehow at some point go, “Man, like, what am I fighting for? What’s my life? What am I living for?” I think this movie very much tackles those questions for Steve Rogers. He’s been questioning things I think for a long time and this is where he’s deciding to follow his instincts and not what people tell him is right or wrong. 

Captain America is tired of marching. It’s like he’s become aware that a lot of evil has been perpetrated by people whose excuse is: “I was just following orders.”

We constantly deal with trying to do the right thing. Following orders. And where does it lead? Sometimes it doesn’t end up well. It doesn’t end up good. [Laughs] But that’s the code. A soldier’s a soldier to the very end.

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