Speakeasy interviewed Chris Evans at the Toronto International Film Festival, read it below:
Did you envision that your first directing project would be a love story?
To be honest, the first directing thing I wanted to do was a movie called “Burden.” It was this very dark movie about this white supremacist in the South. You do those table reads and you think, this just feels like a lot, and the script wasn’t 100% there. I loved the story and the writer and the people involved but it just didn’t feel right. So you go back to the drawing board. I knew this script was out there and I mentioned it to my team. It was a script I had read back in 2007. Luckily, no one owned it. It needed some work but it felt good. It felt close enough. I was excited about it.
Did you know you would play the lead?
Well, no. I tell you what. I didn’t want to, but I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would have been able to make the movie had I not, you know? I’m very lucky in the sense that I have this Marvel contract and Marvel provides a certain amount of notoriety which affords you the opportunity to greenlight movies as an actor. I don’t think I would have been able to get this movie on its feet had I not been in it. That’s what you have to accept going into it, which I’m fine with. Just to get the opportunity to direct, I’ll act. I’m fine. I’ll do it. That may still be the case for the next few years, but I’m okay with that.
(Spoiler alert) It’s interesting that midway through the movie, it becomes a possibility they may not end up together.
Well, this is what I wanted. I’m going to give you the inside track. The tricky thing is when I read the script, what I liked is that we didn’t end up together. I thought that was great. To me, the movie isn’t a love story to each other. It’s a love story to love. It’s these two people who each have issues, they’re each running from something. These characters each believed in good love and as a result they each got burned. They were each on the verge of adopting a new outlook on love, and that’s tragic. They met each other and they found a reason to be reinvigorated to love. What makes it so beautiful is that it’s hard, it sucks, we don’t end up together. That’s what makes it special. That’s why I chose the movie.
I tell you what – we did our first test screening and people were not happy [laughs]. It was tough! People were just furious that we did not end up together. I had a lot of people who (makes money gesture with his fingers) made the movie who were like, well I think they should end up together. I was just like no, no, no. That is not what this movie is. That’s not why I chose to make this. But I’m willing to compromise. That last scene, when she’s on the train — we added that. The original movie ended with us leaving each other on the train and that was it. We had a lot of pushback from our screenings and we said what if when she’s on the train, she reads something and it’s ambiguous? I don’t want to write some phone number that trivializes the integrity of the characters, so what if it’s just uncertain? For me it was enough, it didn’t compromise integrity but it gave a lot of people who were willing to go to the movie a sense of happiness, which I think is important too.
Did you have doubts as a director?
Everyday! Yeah, I did. I had never done film school. I didn’t know anything, so it’s intimidating and it’s embarrassing. I’ve made dozens of movies but my experience on movies has been filming movies. In terms of pre-production and post, I had no idea. My team would be like “okay tomorrow’s the tech scout,” and you’d say, “what the … is a tech scout?” It’s very humbling to realize I don’t know how this goes. But I accepted that early on and I just said listen, I may not know the terminology. What I can promise you is preparation. The one thing we all know is movies. Whether you’re a production designer or a DP, we all know film. Even my poor DP — I’d want a certain type of shot for something and now in retrospect I could say “I want a 100mm with natural light.” At the beginning of the movie I’d say “listen, um, have you seen ‘Blue Valentine’? Do you the grain from ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’?”
Would you direct a big-budget Marvel film?
So me and Mark Kassen, the guy who I brought on this movie, we were just talking like “what’s next?” I want to continue directing and he’s like “what size movie do you want to direct?” I don’t care. If I read the right script, if that script needs $5 million, if that script needs $50 million, I don’t care. If I read a project that’s beautiful, that I really want to make, whatever it needs, it needs.