Poor Sebastian Stan. He's a fine, accomplished actor, but all anybody can seem to do right now is talk about his shirtless torso. Can you blame 'em?
Stan previously wowed us with his gay roles on Political Animals and Kings, and he's also about to reprise his role as Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. The 29-year-old actor is currently starring as handsome drifter Hal Carter in Roundabout Theater Company's revival of William Inge's 1953 drama Picnic, which runs through Feb. 24 at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre.
As you might imagine from the drool-worthy produciton photo provided, audiences and critics alike are buzzing about Stan's many shirtless scenes, although some have complained that his enviably ripped physique is perhaps too perfect for the time period.
Calling him "As impeccably chiseled and hairless as a marble statue by Praxiteles," respected critic Ben Brantley of the New York Times began his review with the following paragraph: "The Roundabout Theater Company's revival of William Inge's Picnic opened on Sunday night, starring an exceptionally well-developed torso. Of course the torso belongs to a person, the actor Sebastian Stan. But it has been given the kind of lavish individual attention that would seem to warrant above-the-title billing."
Before we get to Mr. Stan's response to the hoopla, watch some brief video highlights of the show below.
OK, get what all the fuss is about?
Stan recently sat down with Playbill.com to discuss the importance of his impressive bod in the context of the play's timeless exploration of vanity and physical beauty. "Our obsession with beauty has not changed," he says. "When we see something that turns us on, we either appreciate it or judge it. It's so primal. We still dismiss people if they're pretty; we don't care how they feel, because they should just be happy looking the way they do. That's something we were trying to say with this production — and if I may be so bold, based on some other peoples' perspectives of it, I think we've made that statement quite clear."
As for the skeptical reactions to his physique, Stan says, "Somebody who came to see the show said to me, 'Don't you think you're in too good of shape for this? No one looked like that in the 1950s.' But I watched a lot of movies from that time period. Because Paul Newman had been in the original Broadway production of Picnic, I watched a lot of Paul Newman movies like Cool Hand Luke and The Long, Hot Summer, where he played a homeless drifter, and he was in incredible shape — ripped, tan, and glistening. So I didn't find myself to be out of line when I was physically preparing for the role." How do you think Stan stacks up to Newman circa 1958?
The actor also admits to Playbill.com that his physical preparation for Picnic coincided with his prep work to star in the upcoming Captain America sequel, but he's pretty sure that folks would still bitching if he had skipped those extra hours in the gym:
"Have you seen the documentary Mansome by Morgan Spurlock? It's really funny and very accurate in showing where we've arrived in terms of our expectations of a shirtless man. Because we're in the 21st century and seeing so many in top physical shape has changed our perceptions of the masculine ideal, I probably would've been criticized if I were in same shape as William Holden's Hal in the film version. People would be saying, 'He isn't in good enough shape for this role.'"
Strangely enough, this isn't the first time that Stan has physically compared himself to the late, great Paul Newman. Back in 2009 he posed in various states of undress for an incredible GQ fashion spread that recreated iconic scenes and photos from Newman's early career.
Have yourself a lovely picnic with those sexy side-by-side shots on the following pages, and read The Advocate's review of Stan in Picnic here.