Skip to main content

Since the mid-2010s, American actor Anthony Mackie has been a prominent feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Fans first caught him in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and his role has expanded to headlining the Disney+ Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But before Mackie was leading the rollout of the MCU’s Phase Four, he attended a very prominent performing arts conservatory in New York City. This educational background led him to a career on the Broadway stage before Mackie began starring in numerous Hollywood blockbusters. 

Mackie got his start on the Broadway stage

Mackie’s first experience in acting was in the theatre. “I started acting because of Don Cheadle,” says Mackie in an interview with IMDB published on YouTube. “My first job out of school, I understudied [with] Don Cheadle off-Broadway.” This led Mackie to his first role alongside Cheadle in the 2001 off-Broadway play Topdog/Underdog.

From there, his stage career grew. “Mackie made his Broadway debut in the 2003 revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and returned to the stage last season in Drowning Crow,” reported Playbill magazine back in 2005. 

Between Mackie’s debut off-Broadway and his Broadway premiere, the actor also began dabbling in film roles. One of his first appearances in movies was as the character Papa Doc in 2002’s 8 Mile. Subsequent roles included 2003’s Brother to Brother, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, and 2006’s We Are Marshall.

It all came full circle when Mackie landed a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Marvel is starting to recruit thesps to join Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” reported Variety in 2012. Mackie was cast as Sam Wilson/Falcon. And the man who helped inspire Mackie’s acting career in the first place was there, too, because Cheadle himself has appeared in numerous Captain America and Avengers films. 

Mackie graduated from college in 2001

Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie | Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

“I went to the Juilliard School in New York,” says Mackie in an interview with Wired. He graduated in 2001 as part of Juilliard’s “Group 30” cohort, which also included soon-to-be-famous actors like Lee Pace and Tracie Thoms. But Juilliard, and acting itself, wasn’t always one of Mackie’s goals.

“Mackie originally went to college to become an engineer but was soon bit by the acting bug,” reports The Juilliard Journal. “He quickly made a U-turn in his education and found his way to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts where he would immerse himself in the art he was beginning to love. He absorbed all he could about his craft and eventually found his way to Juilliard.”

Mackie says he’s living his post-college dream life


‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’: Anthony Mackie Credits This Movie for Getting Him into the MCU

After Mackie finished school at Juilliard, he says he had two specific acting goals.

“When I started this business, I said I wanted to do a Western and I wanted to be a superhero,” said Mackie in an interview with IMDB. “After that, I can retire. Those are the two genres I wanted to tackle. I want to ride horses and I want to fight bad guys. It’s funny when you actually get to live and experience your dreams come true.”

While Mackie hasn’t played in a Western film yet, he already knows what he wants it to be. “[I want] me and Clint Eastwood on a horse, riding through the desert,” he says in a quote from Gulf News. “I’ll hold him around the waist. ‘Ride on, Clint.'”