From Marvel’s Bucky Barnes to Hulu’s Tommy Lee, Sebastian Stan has played a wide range of characters, quietly climbing the charts as one of our most exciting actors in Hollywood. With 20 years in the business, he’s worked with directors such as Craig Gillespie, Ridley Scott and Jonathan Demme, along with stars like Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain and Daniel Craig. In the last decade, he’s become one of the most recognizable stars thanks to his role as superhero The Winter Soldier.
To celebrate the actor’s 40th birthday, Variety ranks his 10 best performances across film and television.
Born in Romania, Stan’s early days had him in an episode of “Law & Order” in 2003 and his recurring role of Carter Baizen in The CW’s “Gossip Girl” from 2007 to 2010.
Lighting up the small screen with notable roles such as The Mad Hatter in ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and one of his earliest critically acclaimed turns as T.J. Hammond in the limited series “Political Animals,” he always showed promise.
His first outing as James Buchanan Barnes in the MCU was seen in “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011). He went on to reprise the character in several other Marvel films and television series, including “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (2021) on Disney+.
Not solely relying on the action genre, Stan also has shown range as a dramatic actor, such as Astronaut Chris Beck in “The Martian” (2015) with Matt Damon or the toxic husband of Tonya Harding in the dramedy “I, Tonya” (2017). In addition, he was impressive as the undercover FBI agent opposite Nicole Kidman in Karyn Kusama’s indie “Destroyer” (2018) before taking on his most villainous Lee Bodecker in “The Devil All the Time” (2020) opposite Tom Holland.
If there was any doubt of his commitment, that subsided when he took on the role of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in Hulu’s limited series “Pam & Tommy” (2021). His transformation was rewarded with his first Emmy nomination for lead actor and the show receiving noms for his co-star Lily James and outstanding limited series.
Read more: Variety’s Awards Circuit Emmys Predictions Hub.
Next for Stan will be A24’s “A Different Man” from writer and director Aaron Schimberg. The first-look photo of him playing a man with neurofibromatosis who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery will continue to generate discussion. The film also stars Renate Reinsve (“The Worst Person in the World”) and Adam Pearson (“Under the Skin”). He also has roles in Benjamin Caron’s “Sharper” opposite Julianne Moore, due in 2023.
You can also see what future Marvel projects are coming with more Winter Soldier by going to Variety’s updated Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Project list for 2022 and Beyond.
Read Variety’s list of Stan’s best performances in film and TV. You can watch the best clip from each selection by clicking on the images.
Honorable mentions: “Ricki and the Flash” (2015); “Logan Lucky” (2017); “Gossip Girl” (2007);