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Like most actors, Anthony Mackie had a role he wanted badly. Unlike many who play it cool in front of the media, Mackie isn’t hiding how thrilled he is to be cast as “Falcon” in Marvel Comics upcoming “Captain America” sequel.
Such is the emotion with becoming one of the first African-American superheroes on the big screen.
“When I heard I got the role I broke down in tears,” said Mackie in a recent interview. “I realized two years from that date some little brown boy was going to be at my door in a Falcon costume on Halloween. When I was a kid I didn’t have that. It wasn’t like I could get asked, ‘Who do you want to be for Halloween?’ and say Shaft. Being the Falcon is monumental.”
Mackie said he has wanted to work with Marvel. He assumed his best bet would be as a villain, according to report by The Grio.
“I wanted to be like the Joker and get my Heath Ledger on,” he said. “I would send Marvel an email, like every four to five months. I was calling saying, ‘I’ll work for free.’ About two years ago they sent me a letter saying, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ I was like ‘Damn — Marvel mad at me.’”
In late 2012, before filming began on “The Winter Soldier” in April 2013, the directors offered Mackie the role of Falcon in the comic-book adaptation.
“It was epic,” said Mackie, who will be one of the first African-American superheroes in a mainstream comic. “I read up on him and immediately got into the gym. I thought if I am wearing that much spandex I have to be in shape.”
“The Winter Soldier” opens in theaters Friday.
Mackie’s Falcon will be his biggest role, but his portrayal of a bomb disposal team sergeant in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning war thriller “The Hurt Locker” earned the actor the attention necessary to land a high-profile role like Falcon.
“Both his roles in ‘Half Nelson’ and ‘The Hurt Locker’ showed him to be an actor of real weight,” said “Winter Soldier” executive producer Nate Moore. “When we were looking to cast the role of Sam Wilson, we knew we wanted an actor who would feel like an equal to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). We’d kicked some names back and forth, but none of the names ever rose above the first we discussed — Anthony Mackie. Once we met Anthony in person, we were sold. He charmed us.”
After the death of his mother, Mackie used what funds he had to attend Juliard, which he said set his course on acting that has continued to this day.
“It confirmed to me that I had the ability to do this and make a living at it,” he recalled. “Once I got into school everything took off.”
While at Juilliard, he was cast in Eminem’s biopic “8 Mile.” Since then, he’s appeared in over 30 movies, from indie flicks to big budget, all-star films.
For his part Mackie would like to see the opportunities he’s had open for other actors of color.
“In this business specifically, race plays such a daunting role in our life because so many of my friends, who are 10 times more talented than I am, they aren’t working. There aren’t enough roles for them. It is simply because they are black, Latino or Asian actors. I think that’s slowly changing and evolving,” he said.
Andrew Scot Bolsinger won more than two dozen press awards during his journalism career. He is a freelance writer, author and operates www.criminalu.co, which is focused on prison reform. He can reached at Andrew.Bolsinger@gmail.com