“I don’t want to be black Birdman. That’s exactly what I don’t want to be. I wake up every day saying, ‘Don’t be black Birdman’,” says Anthony Mackie who is now very much a part of the pop culture consciousness with his role as The Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“I thoroughly enjoy and love the opportunity of being a part of the Marvel Universe. I’ve made lifelong friends, and the movies have done extremely well. They’ve given me the opportunity to do things like this and be able to get it out there, because now people want to interview the guy from the Marvel movies and I can talk about movies like this; where it’s like, ‘Oh, I can fly, but I can act too’. We’ve seen those actors who it’s like, ‘You got one gimmick. That’s a damn good gimmick, but that’s all you got’.”
So, what’s up with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series then? “It’s a show. It’s on Disney+. It’s me and Sebastian, Emily VanCamp. The great thing about these streaming series and these new networks is you have six to twelve episodes to explore a character, so you get 10 more hours of content as opposed to two hours trying to cram it all in. You get to go in depth with every single character, so you learn more about them, you can relate to them more. I know what I hope happens, but you know Marvel… you don’t get a script, you don’t get costumes, you just show up and they’re like, “Go. Don’t break your toe.” It happens a lot. Toes are breakable… That’s the biggest thing now, is just focusing on how the character develops and grows. We have all the pieces, but hopefully it’ll come together.”
We’re speaking to Mackie about his role of Hakim Jamal in Seberg.
“Hakim Jamal was not a Black Panther. There were two different movements. There was the civil rights movement and there was the Black Panther movement. Both tried to achieve the same goal, but they were very different. For me, what’s really important about what he represented and what he did…. There’s a war on civil liberty, there’s a war on humanity, there’s a war on decency, and I think that’s what he was fighting against, that’s what Jean Seberg was fighting against, that’s what the Black Panthers were fighting against. That’s what all civil rights leaders were fighting against.”
Seberg is about cult actress Jean Seberg, played by Kristen Stewart in the film, who becomes involved in the civil rights movement, and has an affair with Hakim Jamal in the process.
“Now we’re starting to see it come to a head again, 50 years later,” Mackie says about the film’s currency. “We are a transient people, we are a people of migration, so if you have a group of people from one place seeing it’s really nice over here, they should be able to migrate to that place and enjoy that niceness. You can’t say, ‘No. You stay over there and get away. No, no. You can’t come in. No’. I’m like, ‘I like cappuccinos. I might want to migrate to Italy. They got better cappuccinos’. It’s at a place and a point now where what they were fighting for and what they achieved, we’re starting to fall back on because now social relevancy is given to us every 30 seconds on a device that’s dictated by someone else.
“Now you can become president because you have more Twitter followers. It’s not just America. If you go to Brazil, what’s going on in Brazil is outrageous. Every single place you go. I was in France and, literally, [Marine] Le Pen won the primary. That’s outrageous. Brexit, that’s outrageous. It’s a global thing now, this fascism, this right-wing, conservative fear of people taking what’s yours. ‘I worked so hard for this table. This is my table. Don’t look at my table. Don’t touch to my table. Don’t talk to my table. Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine’. It’s the fear that’s driving us now as a culture instead of appreciation.”
Like Jean Seberg at the time, does Mackie feel that it’s important to voice his beliefs?
“It’s a collective voice,” he answers. “That’s the problem with celebrities. Celebrities are the only people who can express their opinions and be applauded and then crucified for it.
“What was most interesting about Seberg, and what I admire her for so much, she was there, personally, working with all these different groups for civil rights issues. Everything that she did financially, it was never really talked about. She didn’t get press for being an activist, she didn’t look for press for helping people gain social liberty. She just did it. I think, when looking at her, it’s very admirable to see that she did the things she believed in and not because she got a pat on the back for it.
“With this movie, it’s not saying that the world is shit and we’re all fucked. If you look at Hakim and Jean’s relationship, there’s true love and admiration in that relationship. They found happiness in each other that they couldn’t find anywhere else. They found their solace in each other, and that’s really, for the most part, what we all want: that partner, that confidant, that person who can help us move to the next phase, the next level, of our career and life. I think that always comes out of trepidation and turmoil, and with Jean it’s not different at all. I feel like the two of them really cared about each other, listened to each other, and thrived with each other. Something as simple as the dirt of the FBI ripping that away is heartbreaking to see.”
Seberg is part of Anthony Mackie’s attempts to use the leverage he has achieved through his role in the MCU to make stories that he wants to see on the screen, which includes a future move into producing.
“Being an actor is like being anything else. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. After 20 years, you gain a little bit of headway, you gain a little experience. Now, being on set so much, I see how things happen and move, so there’s stories that I want to tell. Our business has become such a personal passion business, so if I have a project and I come to you as a director and I’m like, ‘Yo, direct my movie’, you’re like, ‘No. I have my personal projects I’m working on’. The way I look at it is, if you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, your passion is everyone’s passion. If you’re Anthony Mackie, your passion is your passion. That’s the drastic difference of it. No one wants that extra hustle. That extra work, a lot of people shy away from because they’d rather be spending that time on their projects. It’s very hard to get a movie made.”
Seberg is in cinemas now.