Sebastian Stan's Diverse Acting Career Beyond Marvel Movie Review 2024

6 Apr 2024

The actor co-stars in a strange A24 film.

Sebastian Stan, famous for playing Bucky Barnes, has taken on diverse roles like a cannibal and a rocker, showcasing versatility beyond superheroes.. But with his latest project, Aaron Schimberg’s unsettling dramedy A Different ManStan takes on an even stranger role and gives what might be his most memorable performance to date.
A Different Man — which premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival — casts Stan as Edward, a shy aspiring actor with facial deformities. (Stan plays the role wearing multiple layers of heavy prosthetics.) Edward’s diagnosis of neurofibromatosis causes his face to swell with bulging tumors, and he spends most of his days alone in his dingy apartment, ignoring the ever-expanding hole that’s rotting through his ceiling. A bright spot arrives in the form of his new neighbor Ingrid (The Worst Person in the World star Renate Reinsve): He’s an actor, she’s a playwright, and together, they strike up a warm friendship, even as Edward longs for something more.

Sebastian Stan in 'A Different Man'. COURTESY OF SUNDANCE INSTITUTE
Eventually, Edward decides to participate in an experimental medical trial, which promises to change his face forever. Before long, he’s spurting blood and peeling off his old skin in a nasty transformation scene that feels part David Cronenberg, part Terry Gilliam’s BrazilWith his new face, Edward looks exactly like Sebastian Stan, and he quickly fakes his own death to reinvent himself as a suave real estate agent named “Guy.”

But even with a new name and a handsome new visage, Guy can’t completely shake Edward, and before long, he auditions for one of Ingrid’s off-Broadway plays (keep in mind, she has no idea it's him), hoping to land the lead role of — you guessed it — Edward. In a strange twist, he finds himself donning a mask to play a fictional version of his past self, someone he no longer resembles. Complicating things is the arrival of the charming Oswald (British actor Adam Pearson, who has neurofibromatosis in real life and starred in Schimberg’s previous film Chained for Life.) Oswald has the face that Edward was so desperate to shed, but he has a confidence and a charisma that Edward can’t wrap his head around. Soon, Guy/Edward finds himself grappling with circular questions of identity and self, slowly realizing that maybe he can’t blame his old life on his former face after all.
It's a strange, twisty tale, and Schimberg sprinkles his script with bizarre, unforgettable imagery — like one shot where an ice cream truck tries to squeeze past paramedics shoving a dead body into an ambulance. These moments are jarring and affecting, but they don’t always click into any sort of cohesion, feeling more like fanciful detours. The film also juggles multiple genres throughout, not always effectively, and it begins as a pensive indie dramedy before veering into gory body horror as Edward literally peels his own skin off. Then, in the final act, it shifts again, moving towards broader absurdist comedy as Oswald and Edward face off. For a project so focused on identity, the film itself suffers from a bit of an identity crisis.
But even with a disjointed tone, it’s Stan, Pearson, and Reinsve who elevate A Different Man. At a post-screening Q&A, Schimberg explained that he wanted to subvert the conversation around casting disabled characters and whether it’s preferable to cast an abled actor in prosthetics or cast a disabled actor and potentially invite tokenization. Instead, he explained, he wanted to do both, and Pearson and Stan excel in their scenes together, Guy gritting his teeth every time Oswald charms another friend or shows off his hidden karaoke skills. Reinsve also brings a delightfully manic narcissism to Ingrid, who’s fascinated by Edward but can’t shut her mouth long enough to let him tell his own story. The final result is a messy but memorable effort, with Stan, Pearson, and Reinsve giving performances that are anything but skin-deep.

Write & Read to Earn with BULB

Learn More

Enjoy this blog? Subscribe to djenwer


No comments yet.
Most relevant comments are displayed, so some may have been filtered out.