The Falcon and the Winter Solider doesn’t only give us Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes. It also brings back Helmut Zemo, the main villain of Captain America: Civil War, played by Daniel Brühl. But there’s a twist: he’s one of the good guys, sort of. When last we saw him, he was a brooding terrorist. Now he’s suddenly gained a sense of humor. The German actor has leaned into the latter aspect, and one of the best parts of the show so far is a stray moment when the guy who once terrorized the Avengers playfully plays with Bucky Barnes’ chin.
“That was improvised,” Brühl told The Hollywood Reporter. Thing is, he had to do it several times, over several takes. But that only made it funnier. “I knew how much Sebastian was suffering. There were a couple of takes where he couldn’t deal with it.”
It’s all part of the new Zemo, who has changed dramatically in the five years since Civil War, which ended with him locked up. Still, don’t think he’s fully flip-flopped. When asked if Wilson and Barnes should trust him, he said, “No, never.” But he also thinks that makes it more realistic:
“If it’s hard to read and tell what somebody is up to, that ambiguity — which people always enjoy and I do enjoy — is always fun. So, yeah, you shouldn’t really trust him. But I guess it has become apparent that he is not an evil supervillain; there’s more to him, which we already know from the other movie. But in the conversations between the three of them, we have intensified the very human side of Zemo. I disagree with his radical methods, but it’s understandable based on where he comes from. So I understand if people empathize with Zemo, and I would understand if everybody joins Team Zemo by the end of the show.”
Brühl was also asked about one of his other former colleagues in the MCU: Chris Hemsworth, with whom he starred in Ron Howard’s racecar movie, Rush, from 2014. The two have never shared a scene — the Asgardian was one of the ones AWOL from Civil War — but Brühl said he hasn’t “dared” bug Marvel honcho Kevin Feige about allowing a reunion. ¨I’m a huge fan of what Chris has done with his character,” Brühl said. “So that would be a nice rendezvous.”