Emmy nominee and ‘Avengers’ star Sebastian Stan was once a student in the UK

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Emmys 2022 nominee Sebastian Stan started out at Rutgers University, where he studied for a BFA in acting. Source: Frederic J. Brown / AFP

Excitement for this year’s Emmy Awards (Emmys 2022) is steadily rising. On July 12, 2022, the full list of this year’s nominees was announced, bringing to light a range of established and upcoming talent to have recently graced the small screen. These include the likes of “Succession”, “Ted Lasso”, “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game”.

Nominees for acting talent range from powerhouses like Zendaya and Oscar Isaac to newcomers Jung Ho-yeon and Lee Jung-jae. One nominee that stands out is Romanian-American actor Sebastian Stan. 

As a long-time figure in Hollywood, Stan is no stranger to the big and small screen. He’s known for playing The Winter Soldier — or Bucky Barnes, as fans call him — in the “Captain America” franchise and Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Outside of this, he’s been steadily accumulating a wealth of roles in many different genres, from taking on supporting roles in major blockbusters like “The Martian” and “Interstellar” to delivering more unhinged performances in “The Devil All The Time” and “I, Tonya”. However, it was his transformative role as Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee in Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy” that finally earned him a well-earned — and long-time coming, for fans of the actor — Emmy nomination. 

How did Stan get his start in acting and become one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood? We delve into the actor’s education and background, looking into the schools that propelled him to success. 

Sebastian Stan and his co-star Lily James received their first Emmy nominations for their performances in Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy”. Source: Momodu Mansaray/AFP

Sebastian Stan: A look into the Emmys 2022 nominee’s university education

Like many actors, Sebastian Stan always knew he wanted to pursue his passion as a profession. He began acting in school productions and spent his summers at the famed Stagedoor Manor camp in New York, which hosted the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Natalie Portman, and Mandy Moore, among other celebrities. 

When the time for his high school graduation came, Stan naturally gravitated towards a university education in acting. He chose Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts — which gave him the chance to spend one year abroad as an international student. 

At Rutgers University, Stan studied in the Theatre Department, where he undertook an intensive programme designed to give aspiring actors, designers and production managers the training and skills they need to succeed in the industry. Training consists of studio classes, an ever-changing academic curriculum, and the opportunity to take part in a diverse range of productions. 

Stan worked towards a BFA in acting. This four-year programme guides students through various acting techniques, including Meisner, on-camera, devising, classics, and global theatre. On top of that, it introduces students to important aspects of succeeding in the industry, such as how to approach auditions. 

This was a crucial learning point for Stan, who spent many years following graduation in audition rooms for roles that didn’t go to him. Throughout the process, Stan recalled something his acting teacher and mentor, Larry Moss, told him after he graduated. 

“He said, ‘You’d better start loving that process — getting the job, working on the character. Start loving the experience much more than the result’,” Stan told Backstage. 

These words significantly changed Stan’s outlook on failed auditions. Where before he was dejected upon missing out on roles he’d auditioned for, he now sees it as an opportunity to network. “I always look at auditions as not even getting the job as much as I’m just trying to connect with this casting director, so they remember me for next time,” the now-Emmys 2022 nominee says.

Sebastian Stan rose to fame playing Bucky Barnes in the “Captain America” series alongside Marvel co-star Anthony Mackie. Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez/AFP

From international student to Emmys 2022 nominee

Whilst at Rutgers, Stan also had the chance to spend a year abroad in London, where he studied acting under the illustrious Shakespeare’s Globe. Specifically tailored for acting and design students, Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare’s Globe grounds aspiring talent in the world of classical and contemporary British arts and culture. 

Spending a year abroad in London meant that Stan, along with other students under Rutgers’ theatre programme, was able to make weekly visits to cultural landmarks, UK theatres, festivals and museums. This deep immersion into the arts is further exacerbated by being taught by a faculty of world-renowned experts in theatre. 

More than that, it’s an opportunity to perform in a space that’s not only steeped in theatrical history, but has hosted — and continues to host — some of the most well-respected performers in the world. This includes Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, and Kenneth Branagh. 

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Sebastian Stan struggled for a few years before finally making it big. Source: Leon Bennett/AFP

Sebastian Stan on maintaining an acting career in the industry

For many performers, having a degree related to their field is a great help in landing jobs after graduation. Just as many, however, struggle in their first few years in the industry — including Stan. 

After graduation, he spent his first three years in the industry job hunting before he eventually landing roles in small-scale TV shows and films. In fact, he revealed that in the months after starring in the first “Captain America”, he struggled to pay rent

His advice to performers and other talents who are just starting out? Embrace the early struggle. 

“Expectations,” he told Backstage, “really [mess] you up. It’s OK to have dreams, it’s OK to have goals, in my opinion. But I really think it’s much more about the climb and the work you do on the way up. The climb is really hard and really rough, but it’s also the best part because there are still places to climb up to.”