“They don’t tell you anything,” says Wyatt Russell of Marvel’s casting process. “They don’t tell you who you’re playing until you have a meeting with them.” So, the actor was unsure of what to think when the role of John Walker fell to him in the Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” Thankfully he accepted the challenge and delivered a complex portrayal of a man who tried, and failed, to become Captain America. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Russell remembers that during early discussions, director Kari Skogland was not completely set on how to handle the tone of his character. “I actually took that as something that was a good challenge,” he admits, “I wasn’t stepping into something that was a predetermined version of somebody.” This blank slate afforded the actor an unexpected amount of “creative leeway” during the filming process. He appreciated the ability to play around with different takes and make the character his own.
SEE P.J. Dillon interview: ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ cinematographer
He also praises Skogland’s direction in John Walker’s most talked about scene in the series: the use of Captain America’s shield to murder a man. He notes that they filmed the horrific sequence “like a ballet… where you really see it in John’s face, him starting to go over the top.” Like every action sequence in the show, this approach allowed performance to be at the heart of the battle. “Kari is really good at telling stories through the fight,” Russell explains.
As for putting on his own suit of stars and stripes, Russell jokes that “it’s the opposite of great for me.” Up close and personal, and not filtered through a camera lens, the actor could only focus on the elements that felt plastic or inauthentic. “You don’t see in your head what they’re looking at on the monitor,” he describes. Making his performance feel “real” while dining the suit proved just as much of a challenge as charting Walker’s emotional breakdown. “You have to let go of some ego,” says Russell.
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