CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Building The Cast
While screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely hammered out the
finishing touches on the
screenplay, the Russo brothers focused their attention on putting together an
outstanding cast, which included
Chris Evans, who returns as Steve Rogers aka Captain America. "In this film a
good amount of time has passed
since the events with The Avengers, so Steve Rogers has had time to process what
has happened to him,"
says Anthony Russo. "As the world's greatest soldier, Cap moves on from the U.S.
Army and goes to work for
S.H.I.E.L.D., which creates a conflict in him because S.H.I.E.L.D. is a
complicated spy organization that deals in
grays and clandestine motivation, and that's not who Cap really is."
For Chris Evans the grounded and gritty tone of the script
played to the strength and sensibilities of the title character.
"Cap doesn't fly; he doesn't shoot lightning bolts," informs
Evans. "He punches and kicks, so with that type of combat,
to make it cool you have the liberty to get grittier. It feels a
little more voyeuristic, a little more documentary style, and it
just has a rougher feel as opposed to most Super Hero films
that tend to be a bit glossier."
Evans continues, "As far as the character goes, Steve Rogers
is now entrenched in the modern world. All of the people he
knew are gone and there are many things that he struggles
to understand. I always have interpreted Captain America
as having a certain sense of loneliness given the fact that
everyone knows who he is, but he doesn't know anyone.
Because of that dynamic, I think he's a little suspicious of people's motives
when they approach him."
Producer Kevin Feige comments on having Evans suit up again as Captain
America: "It's great because Chris Evans is such a good actor and is growing
into this part and is embracing this part in such a great way that we get to see
those other sides of Steve as he navigates this world of grays when he came
from a place where it was very clear who the good guys were and who the bad
"Chris Evans is one of the more technically gifted actors we've ever worked
with; he's easy to direct because he's a self-corrector," comments director Joe
Russo. "He's extremely vigilant about the truthfulness of his performance. What
I think is almost impossible to convey about Steve Rogers, which I think Chris
does amazingly well, is he layers the character with a combination of machismo
and morality. He's made the character very complex; Steve craves a simple
code, but it's difficult for him to find clarity in the modern world. Chris
in wonderful layers of confusion and pathos, without losing any of the grit and
purpose of the character."
Chris Evans has equal praise for his directors, whose knowledge of both comic
books and films impressed him.
"They have a real healthy knowledge and love for comic books, which I think is a
good foundation, and they have
an encyclopedic knowledge of film. When you watch playback and they reference
other films in comparison to
what this shot looks like, it is spot on. These guys really know their movies
and that's comforting."
One person Steve Rogers often turns to is Nick Fury, played again by
Samuel L. Jackson. As the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the peacekeepers
of the modern world, Fury faces many challenges following the
events of "Marvel's The Avengers." "Nick Fury is back on home
soil and dealing with rebuilding," says Samuel L. Jackson. "So he's
gearing up to make the world a bit more secure and must bring
Steve Rogers into the 21st century. Nick is feeling pretty good about
himself and has convinced the World Security Council that Super
Heroes can be beneficial in making the world a safer place."
Jackson continues, "Steve Rogers is still not sure about how
we run things at S.H.I.E.L.D. or how the government has
intruded into everyone's lives and that people's freedoms
are being infringed upon. So he's having these moments of
"Nick Fury's in a place in this movie where the head of any
clandestine organization would find themselves-he's having
to deal with the security of the world by lying to people and
doing things covertly in order to protect them," explains Joe
Russo. "He says in the movie early on that he's been motivated to do this
because of New York and now he
wants to preemptively protect the world; new threats are making themselves known
and he feels like he needs
new weapons to deal with them."
For Nick Fury, earning Steve Rogers' trust is not easy and the
two often find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum
when it comes to dealing with outside forces and threats to
world security. "Steve Rogers is a little combative with Nick
Fury," says Samuel L. Jackson. "He thinks that Nick plays both
sides against the middle and so he's a little wary of what he
does. So Steve Rogers is trying to find the fine balance between
the government, his place in it, and what this shadow world is
that he's now a part of."
Feige feels that this film is a "culmination" for Sam Jackson. "He's popped
up as Nick Fury many, many times for
us now, and in this film we get to see more of him than we've ever seen before,"
informs the producer. "We get
to see him struggle with where he's found himself in his role as director of
S.H.I.E.L.D. It's fun to have an actor
who's played a character for so long to be able to now sink his teeth into it in
another way, and we spend more
time with him and alone with him than we have in any of the other films."
Feige continues, "In a lot of ways, he is what drives this story forward. He
is-as Nick Fury always is-behind
the scenes manipulating the agenda and the plot of the film, but in this one
it's really a character turn for him.
He gets to motivate much of what Steve Rogers does. They have a real
philosophical difference and we get
to see how Steve is changed by Nick over the course of this movie, but even more
importantly how Nick is
changed by Steve."
For Samuel L. Jackson, putting on the long black jacket
and eye-patch of Nick Fury is a labor of love for the actor.
"I really enjoy going back into this world and putting my
scar on and becoming Nick Fury," admits Samuel Jackson.
"He's a know-it-all, impervious-to-the-world kind of dude
who's a real patriot but has his own view of how things
should be run and how the country should be protected.
He has his people around him whom he's learned to
trust, and they trust him as well. His leadership ability
is impeccable. So it's always a joy to come back into this
character in this space."
Another familiar face at S.H.I.E.L.D. for Steve Rogers is Natasha
Romanoff aka Black Widow. Natasha has become Steve Rogers'
closest ally in the organization as she helps him adjust to his
new role. "When we first meet Natasha and Steve, it's kind of
in real time, so a couple of years have gone by and they have
worked on many different missions together," informs Scarlett
Johansson. "They have gotten to know each other better, so
they have more ease and banter to their conversations. I really
like the dynamic because their friendship is far more interesting
to me than if they were to have a romantic relationship."
The actress continues, "Natasha is a very strong-willed, thoughtful,
intelligent woman, but we don't really
know if she is capable of a romantic relationship as she has so many trust
issues and the last thing on her
mind is getting a boyfriend. Obviously Steve Rogers is an attractive guy, but I
think she's still learning how to be
herself-whoever that is-and she's starting to realize new things with her
friendship with Steve Rogers being
the catalyst that allows her to be self-reflective and understanding."
For Evans, having his longtime friend Johansson as his costar
makes it easier to ground the characters' relationship in
reality. "I've known Scarlett for over 10 years now. She's like
a sister," says Evans. "We've done four movies now, and it's
just so nice having a history with someone off camera because
I think that bleeds onscreen. Cap and Black Widow are very
different people; it's kind of like this odd pairing. Her morality
is questionable and Cap's a Boy Scout. She makes her living
by lying and Cap couldn't do it if he tried. When they are at
the point where they really can't trust anyone, it becomes an
interesting relationship because it involves trusting someone you don't know
Samuel L. Jackson agrees with his co-star's assessment of Black Widow.
"Natasha does things that Steve Rogers
won't do," informs Jackson. "Natasha doesn't ask questions; she just follows
orders and there's no line that she
won't cross for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha's relationship with Nick Fury
is very special. They've been
through some things together and he knows a lot more about her than most people.
In this film their bond is
tested in an interesting way."
For Johansson, the film was an opportunity to delve deeper into the
character's cryptic past, which has only
been glossed over in "Iron Man 2" and "Marvel's The Avengers." "We continue to
open up the story and give
little tidbits and throw the bone out once in a while as to where she came from
and what her background is,"
relates Johansson. "There's a lot to explore in the past but certainly where
she's going too. When you take a
character who's had the past that she's had, who has seen the darkest places,
over time she appreciates what
the right thing is in her mind and starts to understand humanity."
Describing the relationship in the film between Black Widow and Captain
America, Joe Russo adds, "We were
gifted by Joss a very complex, fascinating character in Black Widow that we
could use to push against Cap and
bring different colors out of him. Cap's got a very clear goal that he wants to
achieve but it becomes more
complicated when other characters intersect him and he has to work off of them.
Scarlett and Chris have a
great relationship because they've done a lot of movies together. Their
chemistry is fantastic in the film and
they both deliver amazing performances. I think it's because of the depth of
character, and the contrast that
they present to one another. One craves the truth, the other couldn't be more
facile with it."
Adds Anthony, "We couldn't resist the idea of putting those two
characters together because Cap has such a strong moral code
and Black Widow lies for a living; it's fire and water. To force
those two into a situation where they have to engage each other
and trust each other made for some great drama."
There have been many award-winning actors who have been
showcased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and "Captain
America: The Winter Soldier" continues the lineage with the casting of Academy
Award winner Robert
Redford as Secretary Alexander Pierce, a top government official.
For Robert Redford, becoming part of the Marvel Universe is something that
goes all the way back to his childhood. "When I was a kid, I read comic books
and I imagined competing with Captain Marvel," says Redford. "I loved them,
but my parents were against me reading comics because they wanted me to
read something 'substantial.' So I used to go into my closet with a flashlight
read them. They were a big part of my childhood and I can fully understand why
that kind of animation and short storytelling is so appealing to a young kid. I
think because of my love for comics, I went on to really appreciate literature
a greater sense."
"The character was a smaller role, originally, and it developed over time,"
Joe Russo. "As it developed into something much bigger, we knew we would
need an actor of significant heft to carry the part. Being film buffs and guys
who grew up on '70s thrillers, there's a great symmetry in approaching Robert
Redford for this film. The roots of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' lie
in 'Three Days of the Condor.' Cap
goes on a similar journey as Redford's character in that film and, from a
cultural standpoint, we knew it would
be incredibly exciting to see Redford in a comic book movie. Not to mention,
he's one of the coolest people
you'll ever meet."
Anthony Russo adds, "Redford had great ideas for the part. He's politically
inclined, and he only responds to
material that motivates him. So even though the movie's this giant Super Hero
tent-pole film, and it's unlike
anything he's done before, he gravitated toward the themes, and toward the
character's place in the world.
Alexander Pierce is the head of the World Security Council and very close
friends with Nick Fury. He's Nick's
mentor. Pierce understands bureaucracy as well as anyone on the planet, and he
tries to help Cap come to
terms with his new place in the world."
Explaining his character, Redford says, "My character, Alexander Pierce, is a
minor character in the overall
scheme of things, but considering the plot, he is an important one. I think
there's a certain amount of mystery
that emerges about the guy that you don't expect in the beginning. I like that.
I like the fact that all is not
revealed in the first part of the film, and when it is, it's pretty strong and
it affects the plot and it affects Nick
Fury in a very major way. I like the idea also that Fury and my character are
really close, and you have to sell
the idea that that's important. I like that challenge."
Describing the relationship between Nick Fury and Pierce,
Jackson says, "They've been friends forever. Fury knows Pierce
and he's trusted him. They have a level of camaraderie, and
in the service of their country they both had a like mind for a
For two of Hollywood's most successful actors, working
together for the first time was an experience they both found
very rewarding. "I like Sam," says Redford. "Sam's really a good actor. He's
done a lot of films and has many,
many dimensions to him, which I think is wonderful."
For Samuel L. Jackson, the feeling was mutual. "I've been watching Robert
Redford for a long time, and I've
auditioned for films that he did and missed a couple opportunities to do some
films that people offered me,
so it was a great opportunity to stand there and actually work with somebody
that I've admired for a very long
time," says Jackson.
Acting again with Robert Redford was a highlight for Scarlett Johansson, who
last worked with him on "The
Horse Whisperer" when she was 12 years old. "I was really just surprised that we
were here working on this
Marvel film with this different dynamic between us now. He's such a class act
and, of course, it was just like
the old days. It brought me back 15 years. He was there in the trenches like the
rest of us, working those long
hours and delivering mouth-loads of dialogue, and he just plowed through it. It
was as if Alexander Pierce was
a character that he'd been playing for years."
For the directing duo, working with Redford was a "dream, a career
highlight." Anthony Russo comments,
"Pierce is a very complicated character and the great thing about having Robert
Redford in the role is that
when Pierce says something, it's true, because Robert Redford is saying it. That
was very useful in terms of the
storytelling and the emotional and dramatic dynamics of the film."
While Alexander Pierce and Nick Fury try to keep the world a
peaceful place, a new threat comes into the fold that seems
to be unstoppable-The Winter Soldier-a super-soldier who
is the world's greatest assassin. "Winter Soldier in the movie
is perceived as a ghost ops character," informs Joe Russo. "An
infamous assassin that intelligence agencies throughout the
world have never been able to identify; like Bigfoot, there
are only blurry, inconclusive photos of his existence over an
inexplicable 60-year period. The big reveal in the movie to Cap
is that this ghost is his supposedly deceased best friend from
World War II."
For Sebastian Stan, transitioning into the role of The Winter
Soldier was an opportunity that he hoped would materialize
with the success of the franchise and popularity of the
storyline. Offering some background on the character, Stan
says, "The Russians found Bucky Barnes and they saw a great
opportunity to use him as a weapon to target Steve Rogers'
weak spots, his emotions and past. I have always been very
fascinated by the Winter Soldier and was just thrilled to get
the opportunity to play this complex character."
Says Kevin Feige, "Sebastian Stan is now playing a completely different part
than he played in 'Captain America:
The First Avenger.' It's great seeing him grow as an actor and seeing him
embrace Bucky in a way that is
completely different, inspired directly from Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier comic
Director Anthony Russo points out that
bringing a sense of brutality to the Winter
Soldier was crucial to setting up the
relationship between Captain America and
Winter Soldier. Anthony explains, "Cap is like
Rocky; he's a character with a clear code and
a strong drive. He's at his most compelling
when you take him to the 12th round. When
he's beat up, bloody, stumbling-will he stay
on his feet? That's when you feel the real victory in him. Our thought process
was, if the villain's his best friend,
then let's make the villain as brutal and aggressive as we possibly can, so that
it presents the greatest challenge
to Cap. So that the distance Cap has to pull the character back from is so
significant that as audience members
we're not sure whether he's going to get there or not. Winter Soldier is a very
tragic, empathetic villain. There's
something good inside of him that is potentially salvageable, and only Cap can
While the Winter Soldier proves to be a mysterious and lethal threat to Nick
Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., Steve Rogers
gets some assistance in battling the deadly assassin from Sam Wilson aka Falcon,
played by Anthony Mackie.
The film marks Falcon's cinematic debut and the filmmakers had years of source
material to draw from in
developing the character for the big screen.
Anthony Russo explains how Sam Wilson fits in: "In the
film, Cap suspects the halls of power have been corrupted.
His bosses deal in shades of gray, and he's not comfortable
with those shades. Then he finds Sam, a character far away
from the halls of power, an everyman vet whom he trusts,
who has a very specific talent and access to some very
Comments Anthony Mackie, "The filmmakers did a good
job of making Falcon his own entity. I feel like when you look at Sam Wilson and
when you watch this movie,
there's nothing unforgiving or cheap about him. I feel like he's a standup guy.
He's morally sound and he works
with Captain America and follows him through it all because he believes in him,
in the American dream and
what America stands for. So I think that says a lot about him."
Describing the friendship and bond that develops between
Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson in the film, Mackie says,
"Basically Cap and Sam Wilson connect on the idea that they
were both at war and came home, and have to deal with the
ramifications of waking up every morning knowing that they
lost a comrade in battle. Sam works at the VA. He counsels and
helps soldiers who have come back from war, and he brings
Cap into that so he can see that he's not out there on his own.
Sam can empathize with the idea of what he's going through,
so they become friends on that level. Sam admires him; he
admires the legend; he admires the stories of Captain America. It's his
admiration for Cap that puts them in a
position for friendship."
For Chris Evans, that personal relationship
between the characters is essential to
counterbalancing the larger-than-life
aspects of the genre. "In these types of
films you have to work hard to ground every
character," says Chris Evans. "My character
is a guy that's wearing a red, white and blue
suit, so you really have to make the Super
Heroes very self-aware, otherwise it's kind
of silly what they're doing. I like the relationship between Steve Rogers and
Sam. I think they each have trust
issues. They've each been on the frontline; they've seen battles and lost
Joe Russo comments, "Mackie has great integrity as an actor. That's what we
love about him. He has incredible
screen presence. We wanted Falcon to be part of a team with Cap, not a sidekick.
In order to do that you need
an actor who can hold the screen opposite all the other great actors that are in
the film. You need somebody
who can flesh that character out with limited screen time in a very
three-dimensional way-that's Mackie.
The tone was really important to that character as well, because Sam is a guy
who's his own person who can
challenge Cap when he needs to challenge Cap and can support Cap when he needs
to support him."
A new character in the franchise is agent Brock Rumlow, who provides
the muscle for many S.H.I.E.L.D. missions and operations. For the
role, the filmmakers chose Frank Grillo who breaks down the intense
character. "Brock Rumlow is basically a Navy SEAL," says Grillo. "He is
an elite special-ops guy who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. and takes care of
business. When Captain America goes on a mission, he's the guy by his
side backing him up."
Adds executive producer Louis D'Esposito, "When we are
developing the screenplay we look at the story and ask ourselves
if it makes sense for this role to be a character from publishing,"
says Louis D'Esposito. "If it doesn't, then we make up a new
character, but if it does, that's a great opportunity because
it adds an extra layer for the people who already know the
history of comics and will get more excited because it's Brock
they want to know what's going to happen to this character. Is
he going to become Crossbones in this film or is it something
that is going to happen in future films? Because of Brock
Rumlow's history in the comic books, Frank Grillo was a perfect
fit for the role and is a great actor. "
Another new face on the S.H.I.E.L.D. landscape is Agent 13,
played by Emily VanCamp. For VanCamp, entering the Marvel
Cinematic Universe was an entirely new experience. "I have
to be honest and say I was not a massive comic book reader
growing up, so I had to do a lot of homework to get caught
up on all of the adventures of Captain America," admits the
actress. "It was actually really fun to read them and it made
me realize that there's this whole other universe out there
that's really exciting."
Cobie Smulders is back and reprises her role as Agent Maria
Hill, Nick Fury's trusted, go-to agent at S.H.I.E.L.D. Rounding
out the talented cast of Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" are
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Toby
Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola, Maximiliano Hernandez as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jasper
Stillwell and Georges St-Pierre as
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