Best Sebastian Stan performances outside of MCU

Sebastian Stan already has a big year ahead. He is currently appearing on screen The 355 and in the long-awaited miniseries Pam and Tommy. Stan will also star in the thriller Fresh, set to debut at Sundance before being streamed in March. The man seems to be everywhere! Stan is known to many for his Marvel Cinematic Universe role as Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier, best friend of Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). While he certainly won fans in the first Captain America movie, Stan stole hearts with his vulnerable performance on 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 proven – in MCU and beyond – that he has quite a reach.

If you want to marvel (excuse the pun) at Sebastian Stan’s acting talents, here are his top seven roles on film and television that you absolutely must not miss.

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7. The last full scale


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Photo Via Vejsiden Attractions

One of the more ungrateful roles on screen is the role of the ‘interviewer’. You know what kind of role it is – someone who meets others, asks questions, and … that’s it. It’s hard to be memorable, and yet Sebastian Stan does The last full scale. Based on the true story of a heroic soldier in the Vietnam War, Stan plays a Pentagon staffer, Scott Huffman, whose political hopes are apparently put on hold when he is asked to investigate a Medal of Honor request.

Stan spends most of the film hearing the stories of what happened during the war, and he captures the countless emotions on Scott’s journey. At the beginning of the film, one can feel Scott’s annoyance at being handed this job, but he is slowly being invested in learning more. Stan’s expression changes subtly as he transforms from a reluctant investigator into a man who has been moved by the families he meets. The film is not perfect, but one can not go wrong with the actors, including Stan, who show a passion for sharing this story with the viewers.

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6. Destroyer


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Image via mirror release

Stan played along with Nicole Kidman in Destroyer, an intricate crime story in which 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 instruction of Karyn Kusama and the performances she evokes from the actors. Kidman stole all the headlines, but the rest of the cast, especially Stan, held out. Unlike most of Stan’s other acting roles, Agent Chris is harsh and less conflicted. But he still has so many layers to him, which makes Stan’s bid for the character even more impressive.

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

5. There was once


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Image via ABC

Sebastian Stan appeared in only seven episodes of Once upon a time but we would be careful if we missed his appearance on the show. Stan plays The Mad Hatter, who in the fairytale world just wants to create a better life for himself and his daughter. He makes a treaty with the evil queen (lana grill) but, suffice it to say, no good deed goes unpunished, and Hattemager pays a terrible price. In Storybrooke’s post-curse / real world, Hatter transforms into Jefferson, a charming, secluded man with secrets up his sleeve.

Stan brings all layers of his character to life through his acting. He can be creepy when needed, but carries throughout the behavior of a tragic hero. One can feel Jefferson’s loss and striving to be reunited with his daughter in every scene, and that is the main reason why his performance is so memorable despite its brevity. One does not expect amazing acting performances in genre characteristics, but Stan adds a complexity to Mad Hatter / Jefferson that still makes us wish we had been able to see more of this character.

4. We have always lived in the castle


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Image via Brainstorm Media

Not enough people are talking about this atmospheric adaptation of Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. IN We have always lived in the castle, Stan plays Charles Blackwood, the alienated cousin of the Blackwood family. He arrives in town, full of attraction and adventure, but his younger cousin, Merricat (Taissa Farmiga), does not take to him at all. Is she right to be suspicious of this man?

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

Political animals


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Image via USA network

Stop in Political animals won him recognition, and it’s obvious why. TJ Hammond, son of a political family, is the typical rebellious child; he is fierce party and addicted to all kinds of drugs. In the miniseries, TJ is openly gay, but his outing was hardly voluntary. Stan is a stage thief in this show, which says something considering he plays along Sigourney Weaver and CiarĂ¡n Hinds. His character carries a host of pain, not least his heartache over a failed romance and his ability to constantly disappoint his family. TJ also struggles with substance abuse, and Stan effectively depicts the destructive cycle that an addict can get stuck in.

It’s clear that Stan loves playing conflict-filled characters, and he skillfully brings TJ’s internal struggles to life with a nuanced and sympathetic performance. Stan’s face is at his most expressive in this show, especially during a party scene where he transforms from a jubilant partygoer into a discouraged man looking for his next hit. In TJ Hammond, Stan delivers a truly influential performance that allows you to understand and sympathize with this character.

2. Kings


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Image via NBC

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 knows, Stan is the king (these puns 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 who lives the dream, but in reality he is hit by an institution that will not recognize his identity.

Stan is as compelling as this character as he seems to choose versatile characters and Jack is no different. Jack’s frustration over his duties, which hampers his happiness, is to take and feel through small emotions; on the other hand, his prejudices and antagonism towards his supposed political rival are aggravating. Stan breaks your heart with a vulnerable portrayal of a young man split between two worlds. The biggest moment in the show is when Jack gets a hard blow that he has to get through on his own. Stan’s ability to capture the character’s emotions bubbling to the surface as he sets up a facade for his family is a sight to behold.

Me, Tonya


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Image via Neon

If you’re a fan of Stan, this movie is a hard watch. Me, Tonya is the biographical film about the rise and fall of figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie). In the film, Sebastian Stan Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly plays a miserable man who was Harding’s accomplice in the incident that caused her fall. Robbie won recognition and nominations for his role, but Stan deserved just as much praise.

In the film, Gillooly transforms from friendly to violent in an instant. In Gillooly, Stan embodies the unfortunate reality of domestic violence – his character’s mood is unpredictable, and his insecurity is paramount. Stan ‘ugly’ it up (at least by Hollywood standards) to bring the character’s toxicity to the surface level. He credibly plays the character as both incompetent and shocking, but shyes away from becoming a caricature. Me, Tonya is so far away from what Stan is known for, yet he convincingly portrays the villain without faltering a single time. While this role is a must-watch, it is most likely not one you want to see more than once. You will be shocked by this performance because it is Stan when he is the best and plays the worst.


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