“Well Done, Words Hurt”: Fans Are Praising “Captain America” Sebastian Stan For Defending Costar

Sebastian Stan, in a moment of advocacy and sensitivity, took a firm stand at the Berlin Film Festival press conference for his new film — A Different Man — and corrected a reporter who used the word “beast” to describe a character with facial disfigurement.

The Aaron Schimberg-directed psychological thriller, A Different Man, tells the story of Edward (played by Sebastian Stan) who is an aspiring actor with facial disfigurement. The character starts a new life after undergoing reconstructive surgery and eventually becomes obsessed with another man (played by Adam Pearson), who also has a similar disfigurement and is cast to play Edward in a stage production based on his past life.

During Friday’s press conference, Sebastian pointed out the insensitive language used by a reporter to describe people with facial disfigurement and underscored the importance of being respectful and considerate while talking about people with physical differences.

Sebastian Stan took a stand and corrected the journalist for his choice of words

Image credits: Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival

“What do you think happens after the transformation from this so-called beast, as they call him, to this perfect man?” the journalist asked.

Sebastian responded saying, “I have to call you out a little bit on the choice of words there because I think part of why the film is important is because we often don’t have the right vocabulary.”

“I think it’s a little bit more complex than that, and obviously, there are language barriers, but, you know, ‘beast’ isn’t the word. And I think, ultimately, it’s just interesting to hear this word because I think that’s one of the things the film is saying — we have these preconceived ideas, and we’re not really educated on how to understand this experience in particular,” said the actor, who wore a facial prosthetic for a portion of the film.

“That’s one of the things I love about the movie,” he continued. “He’s offering you a way to look at it, and, hopefully, if you can have the same objective point of view while you’re experiencing the film, maybe you can kind of pick apart the initial instincts that you have, and maybe those aren’t always the right ones.”

Sebastian Stan was at the press conference with costars Adam Pearson and Renate Reinsve and director Aaron Schimberg

Image credits: Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival

At the Friday press conference, co-star Adam spoke about how the movie addresses the identity of individuals with physical differences and the world’s perception of them.

“It would have been really easy to make this film a little more campaign-y and shouty or to get on a soapbox. But I think audiences are a lot more intelligent than others give them credit for,” Adam said. “A good film will change what an audience thinks for a day, but a great film will change how an audience thinks for a lifetime.”

Adam was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis — a group of neurological and genetic conditions for which the symptoms include the growth of usually noncancerous (benign) tumors.

The actor also spoke at the press conference about what it was like to live in Manhattan for two months for the filming of A Different Man.

“I found my coffee spot, I found my breakfast spot, and I found my bar. Initially, you have got to do a lot of heavy lifting and the legwork in the conversation. But the more you do it, the easier it gets,” Adam said.

“A good film will change what an audience thinks for a day, but a great film will change how an audience thinks for a lifetime,” actor Adam Pearson said at the Friday press conference

Image credits: Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival

When it comes to changing the discourse around individuals with facial disfigurement, Adam said he believes in “gently and kindly” exposing people rather than “shocking people into submission.”

“The only way to challenge people’s perception on something, truly challenge it, is to gently and kindly expose them to it. The more we can do that, the easier and more organic that eventually becomes,” the actor said. “I’ve got no business in shocking people into submission. I love a good honest conversation and a loving and graceful correction when needed.”

Last month, in a conversation with Variety, Adam spoke about how people with disabilities and disfigurements are typecast into certain types of roles.

“Normally, there are three kinds of roles or tropes for us,” Adam said. “We’re either the villain because I have a disfigurement and I want to kill Batman or James Bond, or the victim like ‘woe is me,’ or the hero because I have a disability but do regular stuff, [and] I’m somehow braver than the next guy.”

Director Aaron Schimberg had cast Adam Pearson in his last film, “Chained for Life,” as well

Image credits: imsebastianstan

Adam also touched upon how the portrayal of people with physical differences can be inauthentic when the roles are written by non-disabled people without consultation.

“It’s lazy writing,” he added. “Why are non-disabled people writing about disability without consultation? When that happens, the end result …you might get it right once, but 9 times out 10, it’s going to be very inauthentic and inaccurate.”

Aaron, the director of A Different Man, has been going against the Hollywood norm of casting able-bodied actors to play characters with disabilities and disfigurements. Adam had starred in the director’s last film, Chained for Life, as well.

Aaron Schimberg said it’s important for him to cast people with disfigurements in his movies

Image credits: imsebastianstan

Aaron spoke at the Friday press conference and noted how it’s important for him to cast people with disfigurements in his movies.

“It’s always been very important to me that if I make films about people with disfigurement, that I cast people with disfigurements,” the director said.

Aaron, who has a cleft palate, said he has “gone through life wondering, ‘How much of this defines me?’ [What] if I had been born differently, or if I can fix it more than it has been fixed. I can draw upon these thoughts.”

“I am not trying to get too heavily involved in that [representation] discourse, but these questions come up in the movie. In making my last films, where I got criticism from both sides, it force[d] me to go deeper about issues of representation,” he added.

While playing the character Edward, Sebastian Stan wore a facial prosthetic for a portion of the film

A Different Man first premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received positive reviews.

Following the Sundance premiere, Sebastian took to the stage with his co-stars and spoke about how he would get “limited” reactions when he wore his facial prosthetics around town during the filming of the movie. He also noted that his most “honest” interactions during those times would be with kids.

“It was really interesting and sort of scary to see how limited the interaction is,” Sebastian was quoted saying. “It just really is limited between two extremes, which is either [people] won’t address it or overcompensation. The only people that really were the most honest were kids.”

Kids had the most “honest” reactions to him while he wore his facial prosthetics, Sebastian Stan said

Image credits: imsebastianstan

Sebastian recalled one encounter he had with a little girl while he was wearing his facial prosthetic, and he noted how the girl’s mother, in her effort to try and do the right thing, was actually stopping the girl from having an experience.

“Her mom was just being a parent and trying to do the right thing, but in doing the right thing, she was actually preventing the little girl from just simply having an experience,” Sebastian recalled. “She was just being inquisitive, and she was brave and courageous, and that’s kids, right? It’s like they just want to know. They don’t have judgment. It was a learning lesson for me, really.”

Click the video below and watch what the co-stars and the director of A Different Man had to say


As the buzz around A Different Man continues, people are still amazed by Sebastian’s manner of handling the journalist’s comments and trying to change the way people talk about physical differences.

Praise poured in for Sebastian Stan after he politely corrected the journalist