“The Fantastic Four had a lot to do with my concerns about playing Captain America. Those Fantastic Four movies… how do you say this correctly? This is where interviews get tricky. If you’re going to get locked up in a long-term contract, you’ve got to make sure the movies you’re making are movies you’ll be proud of. With a lot of movies I’ve made, I’ve had something to question.”
“And the Fantastic Four was a three-movie deal (though only two were ever made). Captain America was a six-picture contract (counting three Avengers movies). And Robert Downey Jr. had already set the tone with the Iron Man movies, there already was a following. So those six movies were for real.” And the therapist? “The funny thing about therapy is it’s not always about the advice that’s given,” Evans says. “It’s about the opportunity to hear yourself talk – because your brain noise is not always as clear as your voice can be.”
Raised in a theatrical Boston family and trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute, Evans knew he was (a) trading in his anonymity, and (b) setting some of his skill set to the side while sweating it out for four months at a time in a latex suit (“I don’t think you’re going to be seeing Cap singing or dancing in a movie soon,” he laughs).
That said, two Captain America and one Avengers movie later, Evans says, “Had I not done these movies, it would have been the biggest mistake of my life, my biggest regret – and there are plenty.” Halfway through his contract, Evans says he’s learned a lot. He’s learned that he can walk around practically unnoticed if he wears a beard and sunglasses. He’s learned about “the importance of what you and I are doing right now.”
And he says he’s learned what it’s like to open a script without wincing. Winter Soldier is a case of bold choices – from the hiring of co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo (whose major prior credit had been TV’s Arrested Development and Community), the apparent resurrection of characters presumed to be dead, the introduction of a new hero, Falcon (Anthony Mackie) the reintroduction of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow – and a trust-no-one Jason Bourne-ish script that includes a civil war within the secret organization of good guys known as S.H.I.E.L.D.
“It was a good day when I read that script,” Evans says. “Believe me, I’ve been part of the bad days where I read scripts and said, ‘This isn’t right!’ I can’t believe I almost said I wasn’t going to do these. (Disney/Marvel producer) Kevin Feige knows how to make movies.”
Meanwhile, the downtime between mega-projects has given Evans the opportunity to follow his higher-minded muse. He’ll be seen this summer in Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic story set on a train, by acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The Host), with co-stars including Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris. And he’s also recently finished filming his directorial debut, 1:30 Train – a Before Sunrise-type romance about two strangers (Evans and Alice Eve), written by veteran scriptwriter Ron Bass (Rain Man). “I think I directed myself phenomenally,” Evans jokes of his multitasking. Fingers crossed, he hopes to debut the film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
“In retrospect, Marvel has been a beautiful element in my life, affording me the opportunity to do such things,” Evans says.