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7 Unmissable Sebastian Stan Performances While We Wait for ‘Pam & Tommy’

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7 Unmissable Sebastian Stan Performances While We Wait for ‘Pam & Tommy’

Sebastian Stan already has a big year ahead. He is currently appearing on-screen in The 355 and in the hotly anticipated miniseries Pam & Tommy. Stan will also be starring in the thriller Fresh, set to debut at Sundance before streaming in March. The man seems to be everywhere! Stan is familiar to many for his Marvel Cinematic Universe role as Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier, best friend to Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). While he definitely won fans in the first Captain America film, Stan stole hearts with his vulnerable performance in his second MCU outing, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s easy to write off the talents of an actor who is best known as a superhero, but Stan has proved—in the MCU and beyond—that he has quite the range.

If you’re looking to marvel (pardon the pun) at Sebastian Stan’s acting talents, here are his top seven roles on film and television that are absolutely unmissable.

RELATED: ‘Pam & Tommy’ Cast and Character Guide: Who’s Who in the Hulu Miniseries?

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7. The Last Full Measure

One of the more thankless roles on screen is that of the ‘interviewer’. You know what kind of role it is – a person meeting others, asking questions, and… that’s it. It’s difficult to be memorable and yet Sebastian Stan pulls it off in The Last Full Measure. Based on the true story of a heroic soldier in the Vietnam War, Stan plays a Pentagon staff member, Scott Huffman, whose political aspirations are seemingly put on hold when he’s asked to investigate a Medal of Honor request.

Stan spends the majority of the film hearing the stories of what happened during the war, and he captures the myriad emotions of Scott’s journey. At the start of the film, you can feel Scott’s annoyance at being handed this job, but he slowly becomes invested in learning more. Stan’s expressions subtly change as he transforms from a reluctant investigator to a man moved by the families he meets. The film isn’t perfect, but one can’t fault the actors, including Stan, who demonstrates a passion for sharing this story with viewers.

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6. Destroyer

Stan starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Destroyer, a convoluted crime thriller where he played an FBI agent who had once been embedded in a criminal gang. Stan’s character, Chris, only appears in flashbacks when he and Kidman’s character, Erin Bell, worked together. The film is intense, and much of it is down to excellent direction by Karyn Kusama and the performances she elicits from the actors. Kidman stole all the headlines, but the rest of the cast, especially Stan, held their own. Unlike most of Stan’s other acting roles, Agent Chris is gruff and less conflicted. But he still has so many layers to him which makes Stan’s take on the character even more impressive.

He’s able to bring forth Chris’ professionalism when faced with the unhinged crime boss and situations he’s placed in. Stan plays Chris as a perfect foil to Kidman’s less experienced Erin, and that is a huge achievement in itself. Despite this being an action role, something Stan is known for, it’s really the quieter moments when Stan shines the most. His expressive eyes and nuanced acting add depth to a character that could have easily been one-dimensional.

5. Once Upon a Time

Sebastian Stan only starred in seven episodes of Once Upon a Time but we would be remiss if we left off his performance on the show. Stan plays The Mad Hatter, who, in the fairy tale world, just wants to make a better life for himself and his daughter. He strikes a deal with the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) but, suffice to say, no good deed goes unpunished, and Hatter pays a terrible price. In the post-curse/real world of Storybrooke, Hatter is transformed into Jefferson, a charming, aloof man with secrets up his sleeve.

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Stan brings all the layers of his character to life through his acting. He can be sinister when needed but carries the demeanor of a tragic hero throughout. One can feel Jefferson’s loss and pining to be reunited with his daughter in every scene, and it’s the major reason why his performance is so memorable despite its brevity. One doesn’t expect stellar acting feats in genre properties, but Stan imbues Mad Hatter/Jefferson with a complexity that still makes us wish we’d been able to see more of this character.

4. We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Not enough people talk about this atmospheric adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. In We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Stan plays Charles Blackwood, the estranged cousin of the Blackwood family. He arrives in town, full of allure and adventure, but his younger cousin, Merricat (Taissa Farmiga), doesn’t take to him at all. Is she right to be suspicious of this man?

Sebastian Stan has the uncanny ability to balance charm and menace, and that comes to the fore in this film. He sweeps his cousin Constance (Alexandra Daddario) off her feet but takes the viewer with him. His big, uninhibited smile, combined with a sleek clean look wins us over. But it isn’t long before the cracks in his facade begin to show. When things don’t go Charles’ way, Stan channels the character’s toxic masculinity a little too perfectly. Don’t let the fact that this film slipped under the radar fool you, Stan is incredible as he pivots from being a dream man to the devil incarnate. He is scary and ruthless and such a tour de force in every scene.

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3. Political Animals

Stan’s turn in Political Animals won him acclaim, and it’s obvious why. T.J. Hammond, the son of a political family, is the quintessential rebellious child; he’s hard-partying and addicted to all kinds of substances. In the miniseries, T.J. is openly gay, but his outing was hardly voluntary. Stan is a scene-stealer in this show, which is saying something considering he stars alongside Sigourney Weaver and Ciarán Hinds. His character carries a ton of pain, not least his heartbreak over a failed romance and his ability to constantly disappoint his family. T.J. also struggles with substance abuse and Stan effectively portrays the devastating cycle that an addict can get stuck in.

It’s obvious that Stan loves playing conflicted characters, and he skillfully brings T.J.’s internal battles to life with a nuanced and sympathetic performance. Stan’s face is at its most expressive in this show, especially during a party scene where he transforms from a jubilant party-goer to a dejected man looking for his next hit. In T.J. Hammond, Stan puts in a truly affecting performance that will allow you to understand and sympathize with this character.

2. Kings

The short-lived series Kings is the show that put Stan on the map. It’s a modern take on a biblical story and Sebastian Stan plays the crown prince of Gilboa, Jonathan “Jack” Benjamin. As anyone familiar with the MCU will know, Stan is the king (these puns just write themselves) of playing tortured characters, and Jack is the epitome of one. Jack is a complicated person; he is ambitious, insecure, and in the closet. To the outside world, Jack is a rich, privileged playboy living the dream, but in actuality, he’s hamstrung by an institution that won’t recognize his identity.

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Stan is so compelling as this character as he seems to choose multi-faceted characters, and Jack is no different. Jack’s frustration at his duties impeding his happiness is palpable through minute emotions; on the other hand, his prejudice and antagonism towards his supposed political rival are aggravating. Stan breaks your heart with a vulnerable portrayal of a young man torn between two worlds. The greatest moment in the performance is when Jack is dealt a heavy blow that he has to power through alone. Stan’s ability to capture the character’s emotions bubbling to the surface while putting up a facade for his family is a sight to behold.

1. I, Tonya

If you’re a fan of the Stan, this movie is a tough watch. I, Tonya is the biographical film on the rise and fall of figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie). In the film, Sebastian Stan plays Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly, a wretched man who was Harding’s co-conspirator in the incident that caused her downfall. Robbie won acclaim and nominations for her role, but Stan deserved just as much praise.

In the film, Gillooly transforms from kind to violent within the blink of an eye. In Gillooly, Stan embodies the unfortunate reality of domestic abusers – his character’s moods are unpredictable, and his insecurity is paramount. Stan ‘uglies’ it up (by Hollywood standards, anyway) to bring the character’s toxicity to surface level. He believably plays the character as both incompetent and chilling but veers away from turning into a caricature. I, Tonya is so far removed from what Stan is known for, yet he convincingly portrays the villain without faltering even once. While this role is a must-watch, it’s most likely not one you’d want to watch more than once. You’ll be left shocked at this performance because it’s Stan at his best, playing the worst.

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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