Falcon and Winter Soldier Star Daniel Brühl: Don't Trust Likable Zemo

Actor Daniel Brühl is showing another side of Baron Helmut Zemo on the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As the third wheel to the adorable odd couple of Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), the villain who helped manage to manipulate his way in getting the Avengers to turn on one another in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Zemo provides an invaluable resource on the duo's search of the Flag Smashers, terrorists enhanced by a modified version of the super-soldier serum that gave Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) his powers. Brühl spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his newfound character depth in the series is not only his wealth from his family fortune but also his sense of humor and dance moves.

Falcon and Winter Soldier: Don't Trust Likable Zemo Daniel Brühl Says
Image: Marvel Studios

How Baron Helmut Zemo Came Back for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

When it came to coming back after the 2016 film, it took Brühl by surprise. "No. I mean, it's always a good sign when they don't kill you," he said. Zemo was left imprisoned by the end of the film. "So I was always hoping and thinking that maybe one day they would come up with an idea to bring me back, but I seriously didn't know anything about it. So it really took me by surprise. I was shooting the second season of The Alienist in Budapest when I got the call, and I was thrilled. First of all, because they decided to bring me back, but second of all, because I could tell they had something new in mind from the scripts that I received. So it gave me the opportunity to explore something else with the character, and there wasn't the danger of doing the same thing all over again and repeating myself. The sense of humor that was added to the character, in particular, attracted me and pleased me."

Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo in Falcon and Winter Soldier
Image courtesy of Marvel Studios

When Brühl talked to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, he was surprised how much he wanted to expand Zemo. "Actually, they did because, originally, I was always thinking of the comic books," the actor recalled. "But then I had this conversation with Kevin Feige back in the day before we shot Civil War, and I was impressed by the fact that he wanted to reinvent and reinterpret the character. We saw a very serious, determined, driven, and grounded man in Civil War, but we didn't see the iconic Zemo from the comic books. We also didn't get to know about his aristocratic background and all these things that I had always envisioned when thinking of this character. So the fact that they kept the interesting background of Zemo in Civil War, but added all these layers, made it very compelling." Brühl understood fans' newfound likability of Zemo but still doesn't consider him trustworthy. "No, never," he said. "If it's hard to read and tell what somebody is up to, that ambiguity … is always fun. So, yeah, you shouldn't really trust him. But I guess it has become apparent that he is not an evil supervillain; there's more to him, which we already know from [Captain America: Civil War]. So I understand if people empathize with Zemo, and I would understand if everybody joins Team Zemo by the end of the show."

The actor reflected on the one scene he was in with Black Panther actor, the late Chadwick Boseman, and the profound impact he left on him on the set of Civil War. "I was surprised by how incredibly touched I was," Brühl sighed. "I only had one scene with him, but that day really left a strong impression on me because I was blown away by this man's talent, aura, and personality. He was bold, brave, charismatic, and intense. His acting was absolutely fascinating. So it's a huge loss, not only for the MCU but the whole cinematic realm. He was mesmerizing. He was wonderful. So it's really sad." For more where Brühl talks about his improvised scene with Stan, working with fellow MCU actor Chris Hemsworth on Rush (2013), and his thoughts on his former co-star's take on Thor, you can check out the rest on THR. New episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stream Fridays on Disney+. Now it's the time on Sprockets when we dance!

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.