Sebastian Stan felt differently while walking the streets of New York City during the “A Different Man” production.

Stan, who spends less than half of the film under prosthetics to play a man suffering from a facial disfigurement, explained at the New York City premiere of the feature that he felt as though he was treated differently by people when donning the makeup.

As prosthetic artist Mike Marino, who was behind “The Penguin” and “The Batman” looks, was working on a series of other projects at the time of indie film “A Different Man,” Stan explained that sometimes he would be wearing his prosthetics for up to three hours before shoot time.

“And then I had this time, so I would walk down the street, get a coffee. I was too scared to do it alone, like I had to have my friend with me,” Stan said during the New Directors/New Films opening night post-screening panel alongside writer/director Aaron Schimberg. “I would just see what would happen. And everyone, [in] every single place, was responding to me and not once did someone think that I was an actor. Everyone just believed it.”

Stan continued, “But more importantly was just their reaction and unfortunately getting sort of uncomfortable and just their lack of tools or lack of awareness on how to connect. The impulse was there but then it was just nowhere…”

The Marvel alum transformed to play Edward, a lonely, depressed man who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery and later becomes obsessed with the actor (Adam Pearson) portraying him in a play based on his life, written by his neighbor (Renate Reinsve). The meta commentary on exploitation and representation found in the A24 film that debuted at Sundance 2024 also apparently mirrored actor and executive producer Stan’s experience in real life while in production.

“We have these preconceived ideas and we’re not really educated on how to understand this experience in particular,” Stan said earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival, where he won the Best Actor award (via Variety). “That’s one of the things I love about the movie. [It’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.”

Stan’s co-star Pearson, who has neurofibromatosis, said at Sundance that he encouraged Stan to experience the invasion of personal and emotional space as someone living with a disfigurement.

“This was the hook that we gave to Sebastian,” Pearson said at Sundance (also via Variety). “‘You don’t know what it’s like to have a disfigurement, but you do know what it’s like to not have privacy and to have your life constantly invaded. You become public property.’”

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