Canadian actor and UFC champion Georges St-Pierre returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which sees him leap back into action as the French mercenary Batroc — a classic foe of Captain America.
St-Pierre appears as the head villain in the opening sequence of the show, which pits him against the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in a dramatic aerial combat sequence over the desert.
St-Pierre joined Global News to talk about reprising a role he first played in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the changes he’s made since retiring from the UFC, and the future he sees for himself and the series’ stars, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan.
Global News: The show starts with an action sequence to set up that we’re in Captain America’s world — and there you are as his old enemy Batroc, right in the centre of it all. How did this comeback come together for you?
Georges St-Pierre: It was perfect timing, because when I retired about two to three years ago, Disney contacted me about the project. I felt very lucky and very privileged to be part of that franchise because I’ve always been a big fan of Marvel and Disney since I was a kid.
GN: It looks like you got a more complex fight scene than the one you did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What was it like shooting such a complicated aerial battle?
GSP: It is complicated, but Disney and Marvel are the best at putting it all together. Director Kari Skoglund gave me great guidance points, like the Russo brothers did in Winter Soldier. They knew it’s a new thing for me.
Also, to play with Anthony Mackie was a great learning experience because he’s an amazing actor and I’m someone that likes to learn by observing. Anthony is someone that makes everybody laugh on set. He’s an extremely charismatic person with a great sense of humour. I think he could be a comedian if he wanted to. He’s just that good.
GN: How did you use your MMA fighting skills for the fight choreography in the show?
GSP: When you fight for real, everything stays sharp and short, but when you fight for the camera, you need to do everything big, which you cannot do if you fight for real because by telegraphing your punches and kicks, your opponent will see it coming and adapt. But for the camera, it looks good, so that’s the major difference.
GN: Was there anything you wanted to do differently when coming back to play Batroc for a second time?
GSP: When I did my first role as Batroc against Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I was mainly focusing on competing as a mixed martial artist. I didn’t have time to learn or take acting classes. Now, it’s been more than two years. I’m taking acting classes, audition classes, English classes as well to improve my game. I know there’s levels to this game and I have to start back at white belt, and my goal is to become a black belt.
GN: You’ve said that George St-Pierre probably couldn’t beat Steve Rogers in real life. Could he beat the Falcon or the Winter Soldier?
GSP: In real life, George St-Pierre, probably not because they’re superheroes. However, when Batroc fought Steve Rogers, he only used Savate, a French kickboxing technique, plus acrobatic stuff. When you see the Falcon and the Winter Soldier he’s using a jujitsu wrestling technique called the power double-leg takedown slam. That means that Batroc has improved as a fighter. Falcon and Winter Soldier had better watch out for him.
GN: Paul Bettany teased a big cameo for Marvel’s WandaVision — something like Luke Skywalker’s appearance in The Mandalorian. Do you know of any big cameos in this show?
GSP: Everything is very compartmentalized, so I only know what I needed to know to play the role of my character. I don’t know the whole storyline. As a fan, I watch the show and learn like the others. Disney is very good at keeping everything in a way that there are no leaks.
GN: Disney is also very good at bringing actors back for different projects. What are the odds of you fighting a Mandalorian or a Jedi in the future?
GSP: Man, that would be my dream. One thing that influenced me in my career of mixed martial arts was Star Wars. And one thing I can say, if I may. Like everybody else, I’ve heard the rumour about Sebastian Stan taking on the role of a young Luke Skywalker. I really hope that rumour is true, because I know Sebastian Stan is an amazing actor and he will be able to take that on his shoulders and deliver. As a fan, I think he’s the best guy to do that.
(Sebastian Stan has said he would play the role only with the blessing of the original actor, Mark Hamill.)
‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ is a six-episode miniseries airing now on Disney+. The show launched on March 19 and a new episode is added every Friday.