Anthony Mackie ate dirt trying to land for the first time as Marvel's Falcon
Being a superhero is hard.
On the set of Captain America: Civil War, Anthony Mackie, who portrays Cap's friend and ally Falcon, learned just how hard when he was tasked with landing gracefully while sporting his character's signature mechanical wings. Mackie attempted to employ physical tips and acting training he learned while studying at Juilliard, but he found he got a little too cerebral for his own good.
That level of planning and precision largely stemmed from Mackie's experiences studying under founding Juilliard faculty member Moni Yakim, the subject of the new documentary Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy, which is now available to stream in virtual cinemas. To promote the movie, Mackie recently joined some of his fellow Juilliard alums for an EW panel reflecting on Yakim's extraordinary teachings and contributions, which extend to unexpected corners like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Mackie recalled how he decided to employ his training when approaching his character's flying. "The Marvel movies were the first time I had to an action thing," he said. "My character's the Falcon, so I show up, I sit with the graphics team and the directors, and they're like, 'We want you to land like a bird.' Because you have wings… you have to pull your legs in, swoop your core in, let your wings slow you down, and then land on your feet. Being the weird actor that I am and going back to my mime and clown days, I went and started studying all these birds and the way they land, the way they took off, they way they flew, and all this stuff."
That sounds great in theory, but Mackie admitted it was a lot more complicated on set. "The first day — I think we were doing Civil War, and there's the scene where [Vision] shoots Rhodey out of the sky and I land to see if he's okay — I'm supposed to land, so they pull me up like 30 feet off the ground and I'm on a pendulum, so I'm supposed to pull my legs under me and land to a stop," he recounted. "I didn't realize how much my lower body weighed, so I pull on the ropes to try and bring my legs under but I can't get my core in, and I literally land face-first in the dirt and bounce for about 10 feet. I have grass and mud all in my face. The crew is just dying laughing. Everybody is dying laughing."
From there, Mackie said he had to recalibrate what he was doing, but each scenario was so different that things often ended in humorous disaster. "It became a comedy of errors of every day when I had to land and how they were going to kill me," he said. "To this day: 'How do we crash him into something?'"
Still, Mackie credited his experiences at Juilliard in Yakim's classes for shaping his approach to Falcon. "The physicality of that directly stems from the work — the physical work, the clown work, mime work, the body inhabitance — that we learned in Moni's class," he said.
Now we'll just have to wait and see how Mackie employs his classical acting training as the inheritor of Captain America's shield.
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Captain America: Civil War