“There are many things that you can be upset and resentful for, but you can only live forward,” suggests Carl Lumbly. The actor is referring to his character Isaiah Bradley on “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” on Disney+. The TV veteran surprised viewers with his appearance as a former super-soldier and delivered a quiet, heartbreaking performance amid the action set pieces of the Marvel epic. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Viewers quickly discover that Isaiah was a super soldier, just like Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Captain America. However, he was jailed and experimented on because of his skin color. “What takes place in the past, is not in the past,” explains Lumbly, “it’s in the present with you.” The former soldier carries an immense amount of pain due the injustices he faced. It is a horrific outcome for someone who wanted to do good, as Lumbly notes what first resonated with him about Isaiah was the “pride that he had with wanting to serve his country.”
This man’s quiet and reclusive life is interrupted when Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) enters his home with aspirations of becoming the next Captain America. “It was tremendous working with Anthony,” says Lumbly. “There was so much that could be communicated in and around what the text had to say.” The pair share a tense but beautiful scene where two generations, and two differing world views, collide.
Becoming a Captain America type figure “was something denied” to Isaiah, and the veteran tells Sam that “they will never let a black man be Captain America. And no self-respecting black man would want to.” Lumbly thinks that line “represented a man from a generation who had reason to have no hope, who had a distrust of feeling hope and optimism, looking at a young man like Sam…one half of you wants to warn him. The other half of you is exactly where he was.”
When asked if he would be game for exploring Isaiah’s rich backstory in live action, Lumbly laughs and quips, “does the sun rise in the east?” The role has particular resonance with him because Isaiah reminds the actor of his father. Particularly what his father instilled in him as the definition of a successful life. As Lumbly sees it, and as he believes Isaiah embodies it, a successful life “is simply not losing your capacity for love.” He continues, “that’s what I think Isaiah is about. If you manage to survive, it’s your responsibility to live your best existence.”
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