By Chaz Lipp

One of the most highly-anticipated panels of Emerald City Comicon 2015 was the one that closed out the entire three-day (March 27-29) convention: Anthony Mackie. In a convention peppered with members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (including Haley Atwell, Clark Gregg, and Chloe Bennet), the rising star who portrayed Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a great way to conclude the event. Mackie will be seen reprising his role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the actor remained predictably tight-lipped about that massively anticipated film. Referencing Marvel’s secrecy, Mackie joked that he didn’t know he was in the film until the first poster was released and his name was on it.

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One of the best aspects of Mackie’s panel, moderated by actress Clare Kramer, was his sincerity. He took attendees’ questions very seriously, whether they were asking about his own career or simply looking for advice about which college theatre program to attend. Mackie is a Julliard graduate and he told stories about being roommates with a Marvel Cinematic Universe album, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Lee Pace. He also shared details of the grueling pace of study he underwent at Julliard. He advised young actors in the audience to decide whether they hope to become a celebrity or a “working actor,” noting that there was nothing wrong with either – just that they are two very different professions.

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Though he expressed satisfaction with being cast as Falcon, Mackie revealed his dream Marvel role was initially the character Black Panther. He said he’s excited to see Chadwick Boseman in the role (the movie is due in 2018 as part of Phase Three of the MCU). Mackie reminisced a bit about his acclaimed role in 2009’s The Hurt Locker, in which he co-starred with fellow Avenger Jeremy Renner. There was some joking around about the fallout experienced by cast and crew on that particular film which resulted from the drastically different Middle Eastern diet (the film was shot in Jordan).

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Moderator Clare Kramer steered the conversation, which ended up running longer than the planned 50 minutes, toward Mackie’s work with director Spike Lee. “I was in the two Spike Lee movies no one saw,” Mackie joked, but added that it was a great experience working with the legendary director. Mackie appeared in the 2004 Spike Lee films She Hate Me and Sucker Free City. Anthony Mackie’s panel was consistently interesting, funny, and inspiring as he traced the path of his career from very humble beginnings. He paid tribute to the grade school teachers who encouraged him, eventually leading to his casting in his debut role in 8 Mile.

Emerald City Comicon 2015 Anthony Mackie Panel Photos: Sherry Lipp

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