Anthony Mackie Talks Jesse Owens Biopic & Reflects on ‘Captain America’


This week Jane Rosenthal was honored for her contributions to arts and arts culture with the 23rd Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage award at the Stephen Weiss Gallery.

Actor Anthony Mackie was on the voting committee, which selected Jane for this honor. Rosenthal co-founded Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Center in the lower Manhattan neighborhood with actor Robert De Niro.

What was Jane the right person for this honor?

I feel like for me, for everybody that was up for the award expressed a huge amount of philanthropy, a huge amount of selflessness. I feel like with Jane, her philanthropy stretched far outside her hand’s reach. I’ve known Jane for about 7 years now and she affected me far before I was able to say hello to her and she knew who I was. I felt like she has the ability with this organization, Tribeca, to reach out and effect kids and artists from all over the world. That’s what’s important, you can go anywhere in an artistic community and find someone who not only knows her or who has been helped or been affected by her. That’s what for me, made me vote for her.

Can you tell us about the Jesse Owens picture you are leading?

Jesse Owens has been a passion of mine since I was a child. When I was a kid I was a huge boxing fan, my dad would always have Mike Tyson boxing parties at the house when he would fight. Joe Louis was a monumental figure in our house. My grandfather, my uncles all talk about Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, when Schmeling came to New York and knocked out Joe Louis, I don’t think nowadays we understand how huge of a feat that was. I don’t think we can understand how huge of a champion, not only for black people but for Americans Joe Louis was, so for a German to come and knock him out in the middle of … the German war through Europe, it was a huge feat and everybody took a step back and thought Hitler had something going. So when Jesse Owens went in 1936 as an African American man, in Germany and to not only win one gold medal, two, three gold medals, but he won four gold medals, for Hitler to say “He can run, but you can’t let the Jewish runners run.” For Jesse Owens to stand up and say “I’ll run in place of the Jewish runners, and not only show that I can beat you, but my brothers who are these Jewish runners can beat you as well.” I think that says a lot about him, and I think as Americans, we have to tell that story. If we don’t teach our kids about our actual super heroes, then our fake super heroes don’t matter. I can say that, being a fake superhero.

Can you tell me about being a fake superhero? “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” is a global smash. You played Falcon.

It’s great, I feel like if you look at “Captain America,” I said that a year and a half ago, I’ll say it again, I feel like it’s Marvel’s best superhero up to date. I feel like what the Russo brothers were able to with that cast and that budget was unlike any other superhero movie. I feel like it gave everyone, male, female, young, old, it gave everybody something. The way “Avengers” did two years ago. So it’s fun. It’s the first time in a long time that I went to work and it was a group of people that just had fun. I think that’s important, if you’re not having fun at your job, why do your job? (bless this man)

Are you a runner?

I ran track in high school. That was a long time ago. I’m hoping to get somebody like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, get someone like them who I admired as a kid, to mentor and guide … If you look at Michael Johnson and people like that, they base their entire running style off of Jesse Owens. I’m going to try to reach out to those people and get them … Once I get down to sprinter weight, which is really small, get them to help me and guide me through the transition of being a runner to being a sprinter.

How important is it to tell untold stories?

I think it’s very important, it’s not just the untold stories about New York, it’s the under told story about any community. I think that’s why Jane Rosenthal is so important, I feel like if you go to Brazil, Spain, even when I was in South Africa, she’s not just Tribeca, but Tribeca because of Jane Rosenthal has made their stance globally. You see that every year when you go to Tribeca Film Festival and I think that’s what makes it so special. It’s not so much a huge film market where you’re going to go and get a lot of swag, it’s not so much a huge film market where you’re going to go and spend 5 million dollars for a movie, but it’s a film market for filmmakers. I think that is specifically because of Jane Rosenthal. Film is all about taste, she is the ultimate epitome of a person with taste. I think that’s why Tribeca works so well.

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