Actor Anthony Mackie rose to prominence with powerful turns on the New York stage in acclaimed productions like "Up Against the Wind" and "Talk." His performances eventually brought him to Hollywood, where he impressed in his debut as a formidable foe to Eminem in "8 Mile" (2002). Mackie soon graduated to supporting roles and the occasional lead for major directors like Spike Lee with "She Hate Me" (2004) and Clint Eastwood with "Million Dollar Baby" (2005), while maintaining an interest in independent product like "Half Nelson" (2005) and "The Hurt Locker" (2008). The depth and strength of his talents in these projects and many others, including the much-anticipated Notorious B.I.G. biopic "Notorious" (2009) signified that Mackie was among the best actors working in film and stage in the early millennium. His move into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Falcon in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014) and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015) solidified his position as one of Hollywood's most well-rounded actors.
Born Sept. 23, 1978 in New Orleans, LA, Mackie was raised in the Seventh Ward and for a time, entertained the idea of becoming an engineer like his older brother, Professor Calvin Mackie, who was featured prominently in the Spike Lee documentary "When the Levees Broke" (HBO, 2006). He changed his mind about becoming an engineer after seeing the Challenger shuttle explosion on TV. He believed - as did the rest of the world once the facts were released - that the faulty O-ring engineering caused the shuttle to explode. The disaster effectively ended his engineering fascination. A self-admitted troubled student whose issues were exacerbated by the death of his mother when he was 15, Mackie was encouraged to direct his boundless energy into an after-school theater program; after winning an award from the Speech and Theater League Festival in 1992, Mackie dove headlong into acting. He was soon appearing in local theater productions and on public access television, and by his senior year, he was studying at the North Carolina School of the Arts. A weekend retreat at Julliard convinced him to further his training at the esteemed school; while there, he earned his first critical accolades as rapper Tupac Shakur in the play "Up Against the Wind" (2001), which was brought to Broadway. The success of that show brought more stage work to Mackie, including "Talk," which won him an Obie Award, and understudy to one of his professional influences, Don Cheadle, in "Topdog/Underdog," both in 2002.
That same year, Mackie made his feature film debut as the fearsome Papa Doc, the main antagonist to Eminem's Jimmy Rabbit in "8 Mile." His presence in the film attracted the attention of casting agents, who soon booked him in supporting roles in major studio projects like "Hollywood Homicide" (2003) and "The Manchurian Candidate" (2003). However, it was the independent film "Brother to Brother" (2003) that attracted the most press attention to Mackie's talents. An acclaimed drama about the parallels between the lives of a young art student (Mackie) and a homeless man whose homosexuality made him an outcast during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, the film earned Mackie an Independent Spirit Award nomination in 2004.
Mackie earned his first lead role in a motion picture with Spike Lee's critically lambasted "She Hate Me" (2004), about a disgraced business executive (Mackie) who finds work as a sperm donor to lesbians wishing to have a child. The rancor over the film's subject matter, which helped to sink it at the box office, had little effect on Mackie's career, and he soon graduated to substantial parts in Hollywood features. He provided "Million Dollar Baby" (2005) with one of its most satisfying moments as the loud-mouthed boxer who is silenced by a blow from former fighter-turned-clean-up man Morgan Freeman, and played real-life college football player Nate Ruffin, whose life is forever changed by the death of his teammates in "We Are Marshall" (2006). Mackie also kept a hand in the indie cinema world with notable turns as a dealer in "Half Nelson" (2006) and as anti-slavery fighter Nat Turner in "Ascension Day" (2007).
Mackie received a second Independent Spirit nomination for "The Hurt Locker" (2008), Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama about the physical and emotional strain inflicted on an explosives disposal team. That same year, he reprised his role as Tupac Shakur in the biopic "Notorious" (2009), about the turbulent life of rapper The Notorious B.I.G., and participated in a series of staged readings of August Wilson's plays at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In 2010, Mackie starred with Kerry Washington in the little-seen 1970s-set drama "Night Catches Us" and went on to a series of high-profile projects.
After playing an unlikely ally to Matt Damon's fate-challenging character in the fantastical romance film "The Adjustment Bureau" (2011), Mackie appeared in the surprisingly poignant and engaging robot-boxing movie "Real Steel" (2011), starring Hugh Jackman. In 2012, he played the future president's devoted friend William Johnson in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and turned up the following year in another Hollywood period piece, "Gangster Squad," where he portrayed a member of an elite mob-battling police unit. Mackie subsequently bulked up to star as a criminally inclined bodybuilder alongside Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in "Pain & Gain" (2013), and was featured in two major movies that fall, the thriller "Runner Runner" and the controversial biopic "The Fifth Estate." Mackie gained considerable attention by co-starring in the superhero smash "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014), but his next two films were considerably smaller and more issue-oriented: "Black and White" (2014) was a legal drama touching on racial issues, while "Shelter" (2014) costarred Mackie and Jennifer Connelly as a pair of homeless people who find love; Connelly's husband Paul Bettany wrote and directed the film. Mackie reappeared as Falcon in "Ant-Man" (2015) and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (2015) before he co-starred in Sandra Bullock's political satire "Our Brand Is Crisis" (2015) and the Seth Rogen comedy "The Night Before" (2015).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Won an award from the Speech and Theater League Festival
Received critical accolades as rapper Tupac Shakur in off-off-Broadway play "Up Against the Wind"
Made feature film debut as fearsome rapper Papa Doc opposite Eminem in "8 Mile"
Appeared in New York stage production of "Talk"
Was understudy to Don Cheadle in Suzan-Lori Parks' play "Topdog/Underdog"
Appeared as a young art student in acclaimed drama "Brother to Brother"; earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination
Landed first lead role in Spike Lee's "She Hate Me"
Played small role as a dealer opposite Ryan Gosling in independent film "Half Nelson"
Appeared as a loud-mouthed boxer in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby"
Played real-life college football player Nate Ruffin in "We Are Marshall"
Landed featured role in Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker"; earned Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Male
Portrayed Tupac Shakur again in biopic "Notorious," about the life of rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
Starred in "Night Catches Us" with Kerry Washington and Wendell Pierce
Cast opposite Anna Faris in romantic comedy "What's Your Number?"
Co-starred opposite Hugh Jackman in robot-boxing drama "Real Steel"
Co-starred in science fiction thriller "The Adjustment Bureau"
Co-starred with Sam Worthington in crime thriller "Man on a Ledge"
Played the U.S. president's valet and friend in genre mash-up "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith
Cast alongside Sean Penn and "Half Nelson" co-star Ryan Gosling in crime drama "Gangster Squad"
Starred in Michael Bay's "Pain & Gain"
Featured in the biographical drama "The Fifth Estate"
Took on the role of Sam Wilson (aka, Falcon) in "Captain Avengers: Winter Soldier."
Starred opposite Jennifer Connelly in Paul Bettany's directorial debut "Shelter."
Reprised the role of Sam Wilson for "Avengers: Age of Ultron."
Appeared in the holiday comedy "The Night Before."