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What Fans Probably Never Knew About Sebastian Stan

Ever since stepping onto the "Gossip Girl" scene in the early 2000s, Sebastian Stan has been dominating both the big and small screen. From portraying one of the most brooding characters in the MCU, to a rom-com heartthrob, to a legendary rock star, there is no doubting the range that he has in the film industry. Prior to becoming the leading man that he is today, Stan spent a significant amount of his time working on lesser-known films, such as "Rachel Getting Married," "The Covenant," and "The Education of Charlie Banks."

Despite working alongside some huge names like Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, it wasn't until he landed the role of rich kid scammer Carter Baizen — and eventually became the real-life boyfriend of Leighton Meester — that he truly got on the map. Following "Gossip Girl," Stan earned the ability to diversify the types of projects he would spend his time on. From then on, he has appeared in much more challenging roles in films like "I, Tonya," "Black Swan," and the 2022 horror film, "Fresh." Although Stan prefers to keep a lower profile as a celebrity, there is much more to him than meets the eye. Read on to discover some interesting things that you probably never knew about Sebastian Stan.

His first job was at a movie theatre

While it's hard to imagine a time before Stan was nabbing all the leading roles he lands today, it wasn't always smooth sailing for the actor. In a 2017 interview with MarketWatch, Stan discussed the trajectory of his acting career. "My first job was in a movie theatre," he explained. "I worked at Cinema 6 in New City, New York. I was an usher. I sold popcorn. And then I moved into working for H&M." We've all gotta start somewhere.

Many actors have been outspoken about the difficulty of keeping consistent acting work when trying to make a name for themselves. Stan can unfortunately relate to this. In fact, the actor once went over two years (via Backstage) without booking a single acting gig. Luckily for him (and the rest of the world), "Gossip Girl" put his name on the map and began to open doors to unique acting challenges for him to tackle in the future.

His audition ritual

Some people knock on wood. Some people insist on touching the outside of an airplane before boarding. One way or another, most people have some sort of strange superstition that they believe in for good luck — including celebrities. Whether it's Serena Williams bouncing her tennis ball exactly five times before her first serve in each tennis match, or Axl Rose's bizarre fear of the letter "M," celebrities have an eccentric way of performing lucky rituals. And Sebastian Stan? He smokes a cigarette before every single audition.

In a conversation with a Sebastian Stan fan page, the actor shared the audition ritual that he swears by. "I used to smoke a lot," he explained. "And I had this ritual, where I'd show up for the audition, have a cigarette, and keep the stub until I heard whether or not I got the job." However, the actor has since transitioned into more healthy habits. He says he now likes to focus more on meditation and creating playlists with "anything that helps get your concentration in order."

He originally auditioned for the role of Captain America

One of Sebastian Stan's most undeniably memorable roles to date is Bucky Barnes, who is a World War II vet, the best friend of Steve Rogers, and an eventual killing machine. While hopefully all of us can agree that we wouldn't want anyone other than Stan playing the Winter Soldier, the actor's top choice was actually the role of the first Avenger himself, Captain America. Although he didn't fit the mold of Steve Rogers, Stan made an impression on the casting directors and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige. After seeing some of his previous work, Feige and company agreed that Stan attained a level of darkness that was necessary for the part of the Winter Soldier.

But next Feige needed to convince Stan to accept the role. In order to do this, the Marvel president took Stan through the entire story arc of Bucky Barnes, which immediately peaked the actor's interest. In the book "The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe," Stan describes his first impressions of the life-changing role (via CBR). "I was completely taken with that character," Stan explained, "I definitely want to be clear about this: I am extremely grateful I got this role and not the Captain America role. I looked at it like it was meant to be."

He watched WWII documentaries to prepare for his role as Bucky Barnes

Actors each have their own technique to mentally prepare for a role. Whether that be through Method acting or by breaking down each aspect of a character with the Stanislavski technique, everyone has their own way of fully putting themselves into the mind of their character. Sebastian Stan, however, goes into full research mode. In "Captain America: The First Avenger," Stan portrays Bucky Barnes, a World War II vet who is later captured by the Nazi-backed Hydra organization and brainwashed into being an assassin — as we learn in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

In order to prepare for such a significant role, Stan did a ton of historical research with WWII documentaries. Considering his character is 106 years old in "The Winter Soldier," Stan wanted to be able to honor the level of trauma that would build up in such an individual. In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stan explained his thought process on translating Bucky Barnes from the written word to the silver screen by saying, "I was always thinking he's gotta be a grounded character. He's gotta be somebody that carries the effects of the war on him and throughout." He has been outspoken about thinking he was only going to be in one movie, but once he learned the trajectory of the character, he realized there was so much more to explore.

His friendship with Anthony Mackie

Over the years, one of the most hilarious on-and-off-screen friendships in the MCU has to be Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie, aka the Falcon. Their respective characters tend to work together often, leading their real-life friendship to span through countless movies, nicknames, and inside jokes that just never seem to get old. An ongoing joke among the two is the way Mackie gets flustered by Stan's charming appearance, once admitting in an interview that his "steel blue eyes let you know where home is."

The two buddies also have tons of nicknames for each other, some more embarrassing than others. Mackie occasionally calls Stan names like Sexy Seabass, Bucknasty, Vanilla Ice, and Vanilla Sensation. Stan happily returns the favor by referring to his co-star as Mack Attack and Chocolate Chino, among many other nicknames. The two "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" stars have been compared to an old married couple, in the ways they bicker but seem to always be on the exact same wavelength.

He has an impressive education

When people think of Sebastian Stan, his charisma, looks, and acting abilities are probably at the forefront of their minds. But what many people don't often consider is that he actually received an impressive education prior to hitting the big screen. Sebastian Stan attended the Stagedoor Manor performing arts summer camp, which has famously housed many other creatives that went on to have illustrious careers, such as Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman, Mandy Moore, and Amy Ryan, among many others.

Stan attributes his true passion and pursuit of acting to his time at Stagedoor. Following high school, Stan attended Rutgers University, graduating in 2005 with a BFA from their Mason Gross School of the Arts program. According to the school website, Rutgers "perennially appears in the most respected annual listings of the world's top universities." During his time in the BFA program, Stan was afforded the opportunity to study abroad at the legendary Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, which undoubtedly evolved his acting skills into what we see today.

He put on a lot of muscle for Captain America: Civil War

While it's not uncommon for actors to alter their appearance in order to fit the direction of a specific character, Stan took it to an entirely new level. Stan told GQ that his weight shot up to 200 pounds — all muscle — for his role in "Captain America: Civil War." He was noticeably much more buff than in previous MCU appearances, prompting the "Civil War" team to create a new robotic arm that could fit his newfound muscles.

Some Marvel fans created a Reddit thread about this drastic weight change and coined some nicknames for Stan's onscreen character, calling him "the Winter Swoldier" and "Bulky Barnes." Many other Marvel superheroes have received specialized regimens to get into serious shape for their roles, thanks to the personal trainers working with Marvel Studios. A few of these include Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, Brie Larson, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, and Elizabeth Olsen. If you're planning on hitting the gym and need some inspiration, take a look at Stan's entire fitness routine in this piece by Men's Journal.

The candle holder

In an interview with British writer Alexa Chung, Stan revealed that he once received a very special gift, which he still considers to be his most prized possession, while on the set of "The Architect." While working on the film, a friend of a producer saw Stan's acting and told him he reminded him of legendary actor James Dean. Because of this, he gifted Stan with a very ornate candle holder that once belonged to Dean.

Although he didn't go into detail on who the individual was that gave him his most prized possession, he did reveal how that person managed to receive something so special from Dean in the first place. Stan explained that the producer's friend wrote a thesis on James Dean and, during his extensive research, he actually resided with Dean's family to learn more about him. The family gifted him with the candle holder as a special thank-you for immortalizing their family member in his work.

He does a lot of his own stunts

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe there is no shortage of action. Whether that is a fight scene in the middle of a moving city bus or a battle at the top of the Statue of Liberty, Marvel knows how to put together an action sequence. But did you know that Stan actually does a lot of his own stunts? Marvel Entertainment shared a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," going into detail on the preparations necessary for the knife fight scene. Apparently, Sebastian Stan insisted on not using a stunt double for this scene and instead spent weeks working with a fight choreographer to learn the intricate knife movements.

Stan incorporated his fight training in regular life as well, saying, "My friends were making fun of me. I was just kind of, like, walking around the house for a while, sort of flipping this plastic knife. I mean, I was driving in intersections and just flipping it in the car." The stunt coordinator actually referred to Stan as a "sponge" who was always extremely open to learning and absorbing everything they taught him. His stunt work has extended to the Disney+ series, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," as well as other non-MCU films.

His mom totally missed his cameo in one MCU project

There is an art form to the post-credit scene. True Marvel fans know never to leave the theatre until all of the credits have rolled and the lights are starting to come up. But unfortunately, not everyone has been clued in on this phenomenon. In 2018, some of the cast of "Avengers: Infinity War" sat down together for an interview on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," where they discussed the then-upcoming blockbuster film.

When Kimmel asked Stan about his family members' reactions to his work in the MCU, he revealed a hilarious mistake made by his mother when she went to see him in a particular Marvel movie. Stan claimed that his mother went to see "Black Panther" in theatres and called him, confused, after the movie, saying "I thought you were in this film." He then had to explain to her that his appearance was at the end of the movie, following the credits. To which his mother shrugged it off and admitted that she didn't stay through the entire thing. Hopefully she has learned her lesson.

He is really interested in space

Sebastian Stan has always had a deep interest in space and astronomy (via First We Feast), and this only grew deeper when he joined the cast of "The Martian." In September of 2015, Stan and his costar, Mackenzie Davis, had the honor of visiting NASA in Houston, Texas, and getting an in-depth tour and discussion about the space agency's operations. According to a piece by CollectSpace, the actors "toured a training mockup of the space station, sat inside a development mockup of the Orion spacecraft designed to take astronauts to Mars, shook hands with Robonaut 2 and took a ride on the Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV), a concept for a planetary rover similar to one created for the film."

NASA later uploaded a clip of the actor sharing his thoughts on astronauts and how he definitely considers them to be real-life superheroes. "They're going as far as they can go," he explains. "Obviously there's got to be some part of them that always acknowledges that something could go wrong and they could die." His fascination with these "explorers" stems from his desire to learn what drives someone to pursue that type of job, even to the extent of leaving behind their families and lives for extended periods of time.