Anthony Mackie loves Singapore.
And as we all remember when the US actor was in town last month with his co-stars Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan to promote their superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War (where he plays Falcon/Sam Wilson), Singapore loves him back.
Not only did he charm the media with his colourful quotes and playful humour, he was also the life of the party at the blue carpet premiere held at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, where he glad-handed fans, took selfies with them, and even hugged and kissed them.
The good news is Mackie, 37, can't wait to return in September for the F1 race.
He tells M at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills: "I was blown away by the hospitality and beauty of Singapore. It's really another world. It's like walking onto the Avatar set. It's just green and lush and beautiful. We went over to Sentosa. I've never been to a place with such mutual respect between nature and humans.
"And chilli crab! The best thing on earth! That's all I gotta say - chilli crab! You get some chilli crab in your life."
He raves just as enthusiastically about the #TeamCap light and fireworks display at Marina Bay Sands, a direct response to Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) lighting up of the Eiffel Tower in Paris in Iron Man colours on behalf of his superhero faction #TeamIronMan.
Mackie says: "It was amazing. I definitely think we outdid that little thing they did in Paris. I think the fireworks and our crowd were much more excited. And I just think we put on a better show. And you know, the three of us are way more handsome. So I think we won the battle in that one by going to Singapore."
Now that the Captain America: Civil War press tour is done and dusted, Mackie is moving on to promote his next project, the HBO movie All The Way.
Premiering on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601) on May 22 at 9pm, the historical drama based on the 2012 play features Bryan Cranston reprising his Tony Award-winning role as Lyndon B. Johnson, who assumed the US presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
It follows his turbulent first year in office, in which he passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - trying to navigate between the demands of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Mackie), the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and the resistance of the Southern Democrats who brought him to power.
Was Mackie nervous about playing such an iconic character?
He says: "There was a great trepidation and nerves that went into not wanting to get it wrong. We had a long back and forth about fat suits and prosthetics and stuff.
"But I felt like doing all of that would have been a disservice to the man, because me looking like him is not what's going to make this project work. It's me presenting the things that he's done to change our lives today."
King was a familiar subject in his household growing up.
He recalls: "I grew up in a house with a lot of angry old men. So all of my life this has always been a topic of conversation. I had uncles who served in war and came back. I had uncles who were sharecroppers and made their way to become businessmen.
"I had a father who wasn't allowed to finish school. I had a mum who graduated from a Negro-appointed high school."
Though he was intimidated at first when it came to working with award-winning US thespian Cranston, 60, Mackie ended up having a "nerve wracking" yet wonderful experience.
He recalls a particular day in which he had to do phone dialogue with Cranston, who was supposed to fly off to London to do press for his movie Trumbo.
"I was going to have to do my dialogue with a PA (personal assistant) or some awful actor of a person. And so I was dreading it all day.
"Finally, we get through the first half of the scene and we're going to the phone call stuff, and Bryan walks in and everybody goes, 'You're supposed to be on the airplane'.
"And he's like, 'Well, I changed my flight so I could do off-camera for Anthony'.
"And for somebody on that level to do that, I mean, I know actors who literally have never had a job who won't do that."
Mackie thinks his own career - which started with the 2002 Eminem biopic 8 Mile - has developed as "a slow burn", before the mega-success of the Captain America franchise descended upon him.
He says: "Certain actors will do one job and next thing you know, they're the lead of some major, awesome movie, and they get invited to parties, and that's dope.
"But I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work my way into a career. And a lot of times that means taking two roles here, 10 roles here, a leading role here, or doing a play. I act because I love it, because I've been doing this since I was seven years old."
This article was first published on May 18, 2016.
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