Watch: 10 questions with Sebastian Stan
Like a boss
You can tell that Sebastian Stan is someone who really thinks about his responses. His brows furrow, a considerable pause follows suit and a faraway look consumes his powder-blue eyes. The 35-year-old actor isn't your typical, larger-than-life Hollywood star. Stan's unassuming stance and baby-faced appeal might garner a double take if you're out at a bar, which was exactly where I found myself one afternoon, 57 storeys above sea level at LAVO, trying not to gawk. "That's really him?" I mused to myself — not star-struck, but rather pleasantly surprised that the actor could just casually stroll in without any airs and an entire crew fussing about.
10 minutes later, I was sitting opposite the man whose craft I've followed from his days as Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl in 2007. While it was only a guest-starring role, Stan was an unforgettable face that stayed in the spotlight long after the television series ended. Of course, there was that highly-publicised romance with former co-star Leighton Meester, but it was his penchant for portraying the wild card that ensured his longevity through roles in Rachel Getting Married, Political Animals and Once Upon A Time. When Marvel cast him as the rogue Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in the Captain America and Avengers films, the rest was history. A whole new legion of fans subscribed to this Romanian-born actor, whose subtle sensibilities contributed to his underrated appeal. Then came the critical Academy Award buzz. In the Oscar-nominated I, Tonya, Stan combined the chaos and the calm in his role as Jeff Gillooly, the ex-husband of American skater Tonya Harding (played by Margot Robbie). By the film's release last December, it was clear that if any filmmaker wanted a bad boy to be played with such a disarming charm, Stan's the man.
This wasn't always the case. Born into a then communist Romania, the actor didn't read comic books growing up and felt alien to a world like Marvel. After arriving in New York when he was barely a teen, he got a job in a movie theatre and spent time in a friend's basement, building his film education through movies such as The Goonies, Back to The Future, Jurassic Park and even Mrs. Doubtfire. After enrolling in the prestigious theatre camp Stagedoor Manor, Stan went on to pursue projects on Broadway and Shakespeare's Globe in London. Roles in Tribeca-approved films such as Red Door and The Education of Charlie Banks were marred by misses in Spread and The Covenant, while a failed screen-test for Star Trek shooed him out of that science-fiction franchise. The best, however, was yet to come. While Captain America: The First Avenger made us go googly-eyed for Chris Evans, it surrounded Stan with a lot of intrigue.
Six Marvel films later, Stan's gotten all too familiar with KY jelly (a lubricant he often used for his Bucky Barnes costume) and the trappings of an action star. After its six-week run, Avengers: Infinity War made Singapore cinematic history by being the only film to surpass the $14-million mark. In town for the re-opening of the Hugo Boss store in Marina Bay Sands, we chat one-on-one with the actor on how he remains authentic in his craft.
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