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Denise Gough and Sebastian Stan share a non-steamy moment in a scene from "Monday."

For those viewers who are on a steady diet of superhero movies, Sebastian Stan is Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, or Bucky Barnes, or the Winter Soldier. They're all the same character. For viewers who watch all different sorts of movies and who manage to fit in a few TV series, Stan is someone who has been regularly popping up in a variety of roles.

If you blinked, you might have missed him in "Rachel Getting Married," but he had a good-sized part in "Hot Tub Time Machine," his Carter Baizen was a recurring character on "Gossip Girl," he stole away countless scenes as misguided husband Jeff Gillooly in "I, Tonya," and he's currently playing Bucky Barnes in the TV series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier."

Stan, 38, a native of Romania and longtime New Yorker, is also costarring, opposite Denise Gough, in the upcoming romantic drama "Monday." He plays Mickey, an American expat living in Athens with no plans beyond enjoying himself and taking each day as it comes. Stan spoke about the film by phone from Los Angeles.

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Q: What led up to you getting the script for "Monday?"

A: My agent sent it to me. I'd also watched the movie "Suntan" by the same director, Argyris Papadimitropoulos, and I loved the themes and the story and how he had shot it and how unapologetic the movie was. I loved the idea of making a movie that was very raw and honest.

Q: Do you recall what reactions you had during your first reading of the "Monday" script?

A: There are questions I had by the time I got the script, but I knew that the script was just a jumping off point. When the actors all got together, we would improvise and collaborate, and then some of the stuff was rewritten. We knew that all of the "missing things" were going to show up.

Q: Mickey is a character who is hard to pin down. It's almost as if the filmmakers and maybe even you didn't want to totally reveal what made him tick. Talk about him.

A: I think there's an aspect, particularly in men, where they still suffer from that Peter Pan syndrome, where they're running away from real-life challenges. Mickey is one of those guys. Whether you hate him for it or embrace him for it, he's one of those guys who decided, "My life's gonna be about the moment. I'm gonna live in the moment as much as I can. I'm gonna enjoy this experience. I feel free in this country, it's embraced me, I'm getting a second chance." He's someone who has a lot of demons he has to face, and as we learn, the more you run away from that stuff, the more life sort of ends up putting a wall in front of you to run into.

Q: I've got to ask about the sex scenes. There are a lot of them, and they are steamy, though never explicit. Are they as notoriously difficult to play as so many actors say?

A: They are uncomfortable for numerous reasons. First, you've got a whole set of people standing there, watching you as you do it. Then the scenes have to be very meticulously choreographed. Also, you want to have the right partner there with you, so that you can have trust and communication. You know, "Is this OK? Is this not OK?" The truth of the matter is it's actually a very mechanical choreographed thing, and it's really hard to make it look like it's just happening in the moment, when it's anything but! I think the reason there are so many of those scenes in this movie is because the initial primal attraction between the two of them is really what was holding them together. But you can only run away from problems, and band-aid it with sex for so long, until you finally have to face the face the music. That's kind of what the movie is exploring.

Q: I think another reason those scenes worked out is that throughout the film, you and Denise share the magic of screen chemistry. Is that a dumb luck kind of thing or did you work out character relationships in rehearsals?

A: Denise and I had a sort of improvisational reading of scenes together in New York when she was doing a play there. That gave us an impression of how it would go. And we got to Romania (where it was made) about three weeks before we started shooting. We went to a lot of dinners with our director, and we even took a road trip. We spoke a lot about relationships and our experiences – things we've learned, things we failed at, things we got right. It becomes a much more collaborative process when you're making a movie like this. And all of that helps bring things to the screen when we finally shoot.

Q: One last question. I've never seen "Hot Tub Time Machine." Should I?

A: Oh, yeah!

"Monday" opens in select theaters and premiers on VOD on April 16.

Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com.

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