The Untold Truth Of Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie's star has been steadily rising since he launched his professional career after graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School, where he was accepted when he was just 17 years old. Since then, Mackie has dazzled TV and film viewers with an amazing array of roles; as CinemaBlend pointed out, these have ranged from jackass boxer Shawrelle Berry in "Million Dollar Baby," to a cutthroat gang leader in "The Hate U Give," to bomb-disposal specialist Sergeant J.T. Sanborn in "The Hurt Locker," to high-flying superhero Falcon in several Marvel movies and the Disney+ TV spinoff, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." 

Soon to be seen as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's new Captain America in a feature film, Mackie also agreed to step outside his comfort zone when he signed on to co-host the 2022 edition of the CMT Music Awards in Nashville, alongside country music sensation Kelsea Ballerini

While fans have come to know this talented actor through the many characters he's played over the years, there are many more facets about him that they may not realize. To dig a little deeper, let's take a look at the untold truth of Anthony Mackie.

His original career plan was to become a mechanical engineer

Anthony Mackie and his "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" co-star Sebastian Stan appeared together in a video interview for LADbible TV to test how much they actually knew about each other. In the clip, Mackie asked Stan what he would have done had he not become an actor; Stan guessed he would have been a butcher, before Mackie set him straight as an on-screen graphic read "oil refinery engineer."

"I wanted to be a mechanical engineer," Mackie declared. "I went to engineering school at Mobil oil! I studied thermodynamics, fluid propulsion." Stan was shocked. "This is all news to me!" he blurted out while Mackie laughed uproariously. "It certainly makes a case for being the most interesting man alive," Stan mused.

Mackie's choice of engineering as a potential career isn't surprising, considering that the actor's brother, Calvin Mackie, was an associate professor of mechanical engineering at New Orleans' Tulane University. As Mackie explained in an interview with L'Officiel Monte Carlo, his two older brothers were his "superheroes" when he was growing up, with one becoming an engineer and the other a lawyer. "I knew I wasn't smart enough to be a lawyer so engineer was the next pick," he said. "I honestly thought engineering was all about building things and blowing things up! How could you not be excited about that?"

Anthony Mackie made his film debut opposite Eminem

Anthony Mackie's first screen credit, according to IMDb, was playing rapper Papa Doc in Eminem's "8 Mile." Mackie's role may not have been large, but it was pivotal, with Papa Doc left humiliated after facing off against Eminem's character, Rabbit, in a rap battle. In the scene, Rabbit raps about all of his life's embarrassing details so his opponent would have no ammunition, then further deflates Papa Doc by revealing him as a rich kid named Clarence who went to a private school. 

Mackie reminisced about the role in a 2021 appearance on "The Rich Eisen Show," revealing that the scene contained more truth than audiences realized. According to Mackie, Eminem did a Google search to learn details about him, "and he basically, like, makes fun of me as Papa Doc. And I'm like, 'Well, that's a little too personal there, Mr. Marshall.'" In fact, Mackie explained that his character was being developed as the movie was filming, so "none of that stuff" was originally in the script.

In fact, Mackie revealed to LatinxSpaces that when he was initially cast, his character was far from fleshed out. "When I first got that script, Papa Doc was like three lines. I was supposed to be on set about a week," he said, recalling how he wound up collaborating with director Curtis Hanson to create the character as they filmed. "The battle scene wasn't in the original script," Mackie added. "We developed all that."

His entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was no accident

Since his first appearance as Sam Wilson/Falcon in 2014's "Captain America and the Winter Soldier," Anthony Mackie has remained an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Prior to being cast, Mackie told Vulture, he'd been lobbying to become a Marvel superhero. "I had been contacting Marvel for a few years, asking about 'Black Panther' and trying to see if there was any way I could be part of the Marvel Universe in any capacity," he said. It took awhile — "about five years after our initial contact," he recalled — but eventually Mackie was invited to a meeting with directors Joe and Anthony Russo. At the time, however, Mackie felt the meeting wasn't particularly productive, given that the Russo brothers wouldn't offer up even the tiniest shred of information about the movie they were all discussing. "They couldn't tell me about the character, or when or where they were shooting, but they wanted to know, 'If we had a movie, would you be interested?' And I was like, 'Hell yeah!' So a month later, I got an official offer to be in a Marvel movie," Mackie said.

Mackie had made more of an impression at that meeting than he realized. As Marvel Studios chief creative officer Kevin Feige told Variety, Mackie was "the unanimous first choice" to play the role — and was hired without having to audition, something Feige noted had "only happened a handful of times at Marvel."

His Falcon costume wasn't what he'd originally envisioned

Once Anthony Mackie had been cast in "Captain American and the Winter Soldier" and discovered he'd be playing Falcon opposite Chris Evans' Captain America, getting into top shape became a priority. "You know, if you're a part of the Marvel universe, you have to be pretty consistently in shape because the movies shoot and rotate so quickly," Mackie told Vulture. Admitting that he's "super competitive," Mackie revealed that his "whole goal was to get as buff" as his co-star.

After all that working out, Mackie had some definite thoughts about his character's superhero costume. "I told them I wanted Spandex! I was in the gym like a monster working out for that movie, and I said, 'If Chris gets to wear tight shirts, I want tight shirts! I want Spandex, everything Spandex!' My choice would have been red Spandex, head to toe," he said. "They shot me down," he added with a laugh.

As Mackie revealed in an interview with MovieWeb, he understood Marvel's decision to go in another direction with Falcon's costume to reflect a "military" vibe — "which I'm not complaining about," he commented, "because my gear looks dope and I get to kick a lot of ass." However, he did pine for a costume that would have better showcased his hard-earned physique. "Ever since I got in good shape," he joked, "I'm all about Spandex."

He owned a bar in Brooklyn

Back in 2011, Page Six reported that Anthony Mackie took a detour from Hollywood when he ventured into the hospitality industry by opening NoBar, his own watering hole in Brooklyn's Crown Heights. According to Mackie, he was trying to bring some of the sense of "community" from his native New Orleans that he'd been missing in his new home. "I wanted a nice local spot where I could relax, play pool or watch a game and get a beer for $5, so I just decided to open one," he explained. 

Mackie was no dilettante — not only did he use his carpentry skills to build the bar and most of the furniture, he also tended bar whenever he could. "I never thought of acting as my only goal or career," he told Grub Street. "I always wanted to be a bartender but I knew that if I worked for someone else, I'd get fired."

A couple of years later, in 2013, Mackie announced plans to open a second NoBar, also in Brooklyn, but this time in Williamsburg. Those plans, however, never came to fruition, and the original NoBar abruptly shut down in 2015. According to a report from Page Six, staff at NoBar "were disgruntled," alleging they only learned the place was closing a week before it shuttered; however, another source "close to the star" claimed Mackie had warned his employees of the impending shutdown "far further in advance."

He fought back in court after being arrested for a DWI

Owning his own bar probably wasn't a helpful piece of information when Anthony Mackie was pulled over by police in 2013 and accused of driving while intoxicated. According to the New York Post, Mackie was driving his Dodge Challenger in Harlem when police flagged the vehicle due to its dark tinted windows. While Mackie refused to take a breathalyzer test, the Post reported cops' claims about the actor's "bloodshot eyes" and "the smell of booze on his breath."

Mackie, however, denied that he was intoxicated; as Page Six noted while reporting on his 2015 trial, his lawyer argued that he was suffering from a cold at the time, and that his eyes' redness was caused by antihistamines in medication he was taking at the time.

Mackie was ultimately found guilty of just one charge, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, which the Post pointed out was technically a violation and not a crime.  As E! News reported, Mackie received a $300 fine (plus a $225 mandatory surcharge), was ordered to attend a drunk-driving education program, and had his license suspended for 90 days. Despite losing in court, Mackie was gracious in his legal defeat. "Thank you Your Honor for listening to the case and coming up with a fair conclusion," Mackie told the judge after the verdict was revealed, reported the New York Daily News. "I wish everyone else had done the same."

He's portrayed two African American icons

When news emerged that Anthony Mackie's Marvel character would officially become the new Captain America, it definitely represented a pinnacle; not only would he be portraying one of the all-time most iconic superheroes, Mackie would also be the first Black man to play the character. 

Playing Captain America will hardly be the first time Mackie has portrayed iconic characters onscreen, however. He's previously given life to two of the most revered men of the 20th century: Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and rapper Tupac Shakur. Mackie played the former in the HBO movie "All the Way," starring Brian Cranston as America's 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. As Mackie told NPR's "All Things Considered," he approached the role with reverence, while also trying to portray King as a three-dimensional, flesh-and-blood human. "He's put on this pedestal of being almost like a saint or an angel," Mackie observed, noting that he respected King "more for his flaws than for his perfection."

He took a similar approach when playing Shakur in "Notorious," the 2010 biopic about rapper Biggie Smalls. "I just wanted to be true to who he was to me and who he was to his family," Mackie told Interview of playing Shakur. "I think those are the two most important things. He's something different to everybody."

He's constantly being mistaken for Don Cheadle

Apart from Black Panther, played by the late Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie's Falcon and War Machine, played by Don Cheadle, are arguably the two premier Black superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Interviewed by BBC Radio 1's Ali Plumb, Mackie was asked to single out the most common thing that fans say to him when they see him out in public. "The funny thing is, most of them walk up to me and think I'm Don Cheadle," Mackie said. "They literally go, 'I love you as Black Iron Man,'" he added with a laugh.

Mackie is flattered by that mistake, given the pivotal role that Cheadle played in inspiring Mackie to pursue a career as an actor. "I started acting because of Don Cheadle," Mackie revealed in a sit-down with "The IMBd Show," pointing to Cheadle's performance as NBA legend Earl "the Goat" Manigault in the 1996 film "Rebound" as "one of the best performances of all time." 

Mackie's association with Cheadle runs even deeper. "One of my first jobs out of school, I understudied Don Cheadle off-Broadway," he added, with Playbill recalling he served as Cheadle's understudy in the 2001 production of the play "Topdog/Underdog" at Manhattan's Public Theater. Cheadle, Mackie told "The IMDb Show," "has always been that constant peg in my career that I go back to as it evolves."

Despite playing a flying superhero, Anthony Mackie is 'deathly afraid of heights'

As Falcon, Anthony Mackie's character has the power of flight, thanks to a high-tech set of retractable wings. As a result, many of the character's action scenes take place off the ground. This, Mackie explained in an interview with, has involved a significant degree of stunt work. "It's a lot of me on wires screaming and them saying 'Action' and me flying around ... I'm deathly afraid of heights, they always say, 'Oh, we're just gonna take you this high.' Then they take me and swing me," he said. As for how that's affected his performance, Mackie admitted, "It's 10 times tougher performing with wings. I'm like, 'Wait, I'm the only dude that's on strings? Everybody else gets to walk around or drive cars and I gotta fly?'"

Of course, when viewers watch Falcon's action scenes, it's probably not Mackie they're looking at, but his stunt double, Aaron Toney. Interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter, Toney explained how his background in martial arts came to be reflected in Falcon's fighting style. "We started to explore more acrobatic kicking, and more Tai-style techniques," he said. "It started to evolve, and people started to take Falcon seriously." 

According to Toney, the totality of a cinematic Marvel superhero results from more than just an actor's portrayal, but "really a merger of the double and the actor ... and also the source material from the actual comics."

He once co-owned a New Orleans record label

Owning a bar hasn't been the only non-acting pursuit that has consumed the attention of Anthony Mackie. During a 2021 appearance on "The Late Late Show with James Corden," Mackie discussed the music label that he once co-owned with his cousin. "We had a label called Take Fo' Records," he said, explaining the label's name was reflective of the fact that "we didn't have enough money so you only provided four takes."

As Mackie explained, the label specialized in bounce music, a distinctively New Orleans sub-genre of hip-hop. "If you go online and Google bounce music, every artist that puts out a major hit, they'll remix it into a bounce song," he explained. Mackie's assessment of his label was confirmed by venerable New Orleans music magazine OffBeat, which described Take Fo' as "the pioneering independent record label specializing in New Orleans bounce," and "one of the few organizations responsible for introducing the world to bounce music."

In his blog, Eric Brightwell recalled that Take Fo' had grown out of "Positive Black Talk," the New Orleans public access show originally hosted by Mackie's cousin, Earl Mackie. Eventually, the show's name was shortened to the acronym "PBT," with teenage Anthony Mackie brought in to host. "It was just a 15-year-old Black dude acting a fool," Mackie said of his teen television hosting gig in an interview with Backstage

The reason he's never looked at acting as a job

Anthony Mackie didn't just fall into acting. After studying at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, he attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts' high school program, and then headed to New York City to study acting at The Juilliard School. 

While it's clear that Mackie works hard, he doesn't see what he does as work. "You know, ever since I've started my career as an actor I've never looked at it as a job," he admitted in an interview with Latinx Spaces. "It's always been fun. So every role I get, every job I get, every time I'm casted, it never feels like work to me. I enjoy it so much." That attitude, he explained, is the result of the work ethic instilled in him by his family. "When I was a kid, my dad told me that whatever I'd do, I'd have to study it so that I could perfect it," he said. "So, when I first found acting, it was more so about the literature and the characters than it was about celebrity."

Of course, Mackie is a celebrity, something his family has had to come to accept. "They never expected me to be standing onstage at the Oscars, accepting an award for best picture," he told The Juilliard Journal, adding, "They've always supported me." 

How a cameo on Sesame Street made him a 'neighborhood legend'

Among his numerous film and television credits, one that remains close to Anthony Mackie's heart is his 2021 appearance on "Sesame Street." In the segment, Mackie stirs something in a pot while telling viewers that he's cooking, at which point he's interrupted by Cookie Monster, who asks, "Did somebody say cookie?" Mackie and the furry blue monster then proceed to run down some of the various things within a kitchen that, like the word cooking, begin with the letter C.

Mackie, who's also the father of four young sons, told People that of all his various acting projects, "Sesame Street" has been the biggest hit with his boys and their friends. "When I did 'Sesame Street,' I took my kids to school and everybody was like, 'That's the guy that was with Cookie Monster,'" Mackie recounted. "So that's the one thing that made me, like a neighborhood legend, the fact that I did 'Sesame Street.'" Interestingly, he added, it's parents who are "more excited than little kids" about his Marvel role. "Kids don't really care," he said. 

That even applies to his own kids. Appearing on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Mackie was asked if his sons were "crazy to watch" him play a superhero. "Nah, not at all," Mackie replied, noting that he "had to force them to watch 'The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.'"

Anthony Mackie has amassed an impressive net worth

Anthony Mackie has been acting professionally since graduating from The Juilliard School, racking up screen credits that have increasingly built his profile in Hollywood. Thanks to all those years of hard work, Mackie has managed to stash a few bucks in his bank account — 8 million of them, according to Celebrity Net Worth

That's not surprising when you get to know Mackie's family, described by as a "family of entrepreneurs" whose various business ventures in New Orleans include a chain of restaurants, a roofing business, a nightclub, and a STEM nonprofit founded by one of his brothers. Mackie is continuing that tradition by investing his money back in his hometown. According to, in March 2022 Mackie reportedly purchased a 20-acre plot of land in east New Orleans, the first step in his plan to build his own film and television studio in the Big Easy.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell confirmed the news on Twitter. "New Orleans' own Anthony Mackie is opening a HUGE 20-acre film studio!" she wrote. "The influx of productions will not only bring economic growth but job opportunities!"

The crazy way he found out he'd be starring in Captain America 4

Given that Captain America gave his iconic shield to Falcon at the end of "Avengers: Endgame," speculation arose that Anthony Mackie's character would eventually step into the role. Those rumors eventually turned out to be true. "For me, to be a Black man in 2019 and be given the helm of Captain America with the history of Black men in this country is a monumental step, not only in entertainment, but also in my life," he told Deadline in 2019. "It's been extremely emotional."

In 2021, news emerged that Marvel Studios was prepping a fourth "Captain America" movie with Mackie in the title role. Despite being the movie's star, the always-secretive nature of Marvel projects meant that Mackie found out about the movie in the most non-Hollywood way possible. 

"I literally found out yesterday in a grocery store," Mackie told Entertainment Weekly. "The checkout guy named Dwayne, a cool cat, he's like, 'Yo, man. Is this real?!' I'm like, 'I haven't heard anything.' That's what I love about working for Marvel. They call you, they're like, 'Come to L.A. We wanna tell you what's going on.' So, I'm excited to see what happens, but I haven't heard anything." A few months later, Deadline reported that Mackie's deal with Marvel was done, while Marvel exec Nate Moore confirmed the flick would focus on Sam Wilson settling into his new role.