Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier's Wyatt Russell Talks Chris Evans, Pranking Anthony Mackie, And Taking On Cap's Shield - Exclusive Interview

Wyatt Russell, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's new Captain America(ish), has been on a long journey since his professional ice hockey days. Now he plays the MCU's John Walker, but just what has he been up to between then and now? Since his ill-fated Captain America audition a decade ago, Russell appeared as a smooth-talking hockey player in This Is 40 before surfacing on popular shows like Arrested DevelopmentBlack MirrorLodge 49, and The Good Lord Bird

Getting back to his sports roots, albeit with a baseball bat instead of a hockey stick, he snagged a leading role in the '80s throwback baseball film Everybody Wants Some!! alongside Tyler Hoechlin. From there, he acted beside Aubrey Plaza and MCU mainstay Elizabeth Olsen in Ingrid Goes West before winning a role in Anna Kendrick's wedding film, Table 19. Now, he's carved out his own space in the MCU, playing a distorted version of the very character he tried out for all those years ago on the Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan-led Disney+ series. Talk about full circle. 

Looper chatted with Russell during an exclusive interview when he dished on that fateful Cap audition, what exactly he'd like to ask Chris Evans, and the hilarious prank he played on Anthony Mackie.

The weight of the shield

Would you classify your character as a hero, a villain, or something in between — and how do you think John Walker views himself?

You know what, I don't know, I don't know how to answer that question yet. We have to wait and see what happens. The hero, villain, I don't know. I think John, of course, sees himself as a hero because all of the MCU, even the most evil people in the MCU, see themselves as heroes — and that's what makes it so interesting. But in terms of what he really is, I don't know. You're going to have to watch.

Is it true that your first audition ever was for Captain America? What was that experience like, and how does it feel to play a version of that role so many years later?

It was my first audition. I'd come back from Egypt with professional hockey players, and I was like, "Okay, let's try and go see if you're any good at this acting thing." And it was just something to read, to really... I don't think I was ever going to get to the part, to be honest with you. I don't think there was ever a chance in hell that I was going to be Captain America.

And ten years later, it took a very different trajectory. I never ever thought that was going to come back around in any way, shape, or form. And when it came back around, I didn't know it was for Captain America. It was just for a Marvel person — so full circle in a way.

Overcoming self-doubt

In episode two, it's clear that John Walker is hesitant about being Captain America and doesn't want to take Steve Rogers' place. How does it feel to be the guy taking up the Captain America mantle, and what were you most worried about when you stepped into the role?

I was most worried about whether or not I guess I could do it. I just didn't do things like this. It's just not something I was ever drawn towards, and I had doubts about it and questioning myself and whether I could do it. And when they described to me what it really was and what the trajectory of the character was, I found it very interesting on a human level. And I felt like... I could add to it in the right ways that way. But I was coaxed into feeling better about it.

Superheroes vs. bathrooms

Did you have any conversations with Chris Evans about the role?

No, no. I've been asked that a lot. I don't want to bother him. He gets a phone call from me going, "Hey, how's it going, man? What was it like being Captain America?"

What would you have liked to ask him if you'd had that chance?

Oh, that's a good question. I would have asked him "How do I go to the bathroom, and what's the most efficient way to go to the bathroom in the suit?" I think he would have actually had a lot of good information there. So maybe I should have talked to him. I should have asked him that.

[Laughs] The things you really want to know.


What are the key differences between Steve Rogers and John Walker's respective versions of Captain America? And how do you think they each impact society in their own way?

Well, I think their versions are different just because their moral viewpoints are just different, because of the times that they were soldiers in. One was a soldier in World War II, and one was a soldier in modern-day warfare. So our view of how we fight wars is so different.

So societal impact is going to be the byproduct of who they are, and not so much of what they're trying to... They're not trying to make a societal impact. It's just a byproduct of who they are. That's what's also great about Marvel. They can always slip that in there, and they do it very well.

PSA: Actors are not their characters

Definitely. The fans have strong opinions about your character. So what challenges have you faced coming into the Marvel Universe, and has anyone thrown any shade your way in real life?

No, in real life, I don't know...

Or the internet.

Yeah. I just walked the strip with a big sign saying, "I'm the new Captain America, and tell me what you think." I haven't met anybody yet who... Well, I guess we're not going out to dinners and stuff like that where people see you, which is fine with me. And so I haven't really heard anything. [This interview took place on March 30.]

I don't look up Twitter or whatever — social media, to see what people are saying. It's like an amorphous living thing, the internet. It's going to live and think the way it wants, and I'll let it do it. I'm more than happy to let people feel however they want to feel. It doesn't matter to me.

All press is good press (or is it?)

U.S. Agent exists in the MCU almost entirely for PR purposes. So how does that element play into the character, and can you tease where that arc may be headed?

He exists, yeah, that you can... I can tease it in a way where you're going to see him go down a little bit of a rabbit hole. You're going to see him go down a path that will be very interesting and driven by things you haven't found out about him yet. And I hope that'll be an interesting quality in someone that brings out more of the, "Oh, he's like that because of this aspect." And it deepens people's understanding of him.

You have quite a few scenes with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan already. What was that experience like, and can we expect a lot more of those interactions?

It was horrible, and I put it in my contract that I should never have to actually be with them on set ever again. So every time you see us together, we're actually not together. No, I'm kidding. They're the nicest people — the nicest guys in the world. I felt so lucky to have been brought into the Marvel world with them. They're just so great. They're just, they're very giving people, and giving actors and all those things that you hear — that's them.

And I couldn't have had a better time doing it with them. On hard days Anthony is such a funny person. He can make everybody laugh, he's so funny, Sebastian is the same. We had great talks and conversations, and they are just great people. So it's really easy to be hopefully as good as you can be with someone and people like that. They're just, they're great. I love them. They're wonderful people.

A how-to guide on pranking Anthony Mackie

Do you have any funny behind-the-scenes stories from any of the scenes?

I'm sure we did. I mean, I'm horrible with this stuff. I can't ever remember anything. There were a couple... The one that I really remember is when I... I had a beard. And I went up to Anthony, and after I had shaved and combed my hair — I had really long hair and a beard — and I went up, and I was like, "Hey, what's up?" 

And he didn't realize that it was me until I got super close. And as I was doing that, I realized he didn't know. So I pretended I was a fan, that I'd snuck onto the set. And so he thought some weirdo fan was going to come up and probably stab him or something.

Oh no! [Laughs]

Until it was like, "It's me." And he said, "Holy God, you don't look anything like yourself." So that was kind of funny, but I don't know.

That's so funny.

Fans can watch John Walker's arc unfold on Fridays when they tune into new episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.