Chris Evans: Not doing Captain America would have been 'my biggest regret'

Actor Chris Evans arrives at the UK premiere of

Actor Chris Evans arrives at the UK premiere of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" at Shepherds Bush in London, March 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Paul Hackett)

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

LOS ANGELES – Talk to actors at different points in their career – and before they’ve had a chance to talk to their therapists - and you’ll get different answers.

I’d once interviewed Chris Evans, the artist currently known as Captain America, just after the accountants had pulled the plug on the Fantastic Four series, in which Evans had played the Human Torch, Johnny Storm.

He was doing offbeat stuff, including the sci-fi movie Push with Dakota Fanning and the Edgar Wright/Michael Cera movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. What I didn’t see him doing ever again, was playing a superhero.

“The Fantastic Four had a lot to do with my concerns about playing Captain America,” the now-bearded star of the sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier said in a Canadian exclusive print interview, confirming that he made his decision to don the red, white and blue only after he’d consulted with a mental health professional.

“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.

 

KEVIN FEIGE ON MULTI-STUDIO MARVEL CROSSOVER: 'WE'RE BUSY BUILDING OUR OWN UNIVERSE'

Though Disney owns Marvel, the odds are slim we’ll ever see the Marvel universe coalesce as one on film – not with film rights to three franchises, Spider-Man, X-Men and The Fantastic Four, belonging to other studios.

That, at least, is the opinion of Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ president of production, and the architect of the Avengers franchise and its various film offshoots, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man et al.

At a press conference for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Feige was asked how much influence he has on “those other Marvel films.”

Feige admitted Marvel is pretty much hands-off with Spider-Man and the X-Men. “It’s very limited with the other studios,” Feige said.

“That’s for two reasons. One, we’re very busy building our own universe (at Disney).”

That prompted Anthony Mackie, who plays Cap’s pal the Falcon in Winter Soldier, to interject, “very busy making better f---ing movies than them!”

After the laughter died down, Feige went on, “Those contracts are old with the other studios. And I expect they’ll be making Spider-Man movies at Sony for a long time and X-Men movies at Fox for a long time.”

As well, Fox is rebooting The Fantastic Four with Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as the Invisible Girl, Jamie Bell as The Thing and Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, the role played by Chris Evans before he became Captain America.

For his part, Evans – whose disdain for the quality of the original Fantastic Four franchise is well-known – wished the new FF well. “I think it’s great that they’re picking it up again,” he told Sun Media. “There’s a lot more story to tell. And I think Michael B. Jordan is just a phenomenal actor.”

 

MARVEL'S UPCOMING CINEMATIC TIMELINE

The studios producing them may never sit down at the same table. But the Marvel imprimatur will be all over cinemas near you over the next few years. Which means one thing – an awful lot of Stan Lee cameos.

 

FROM DISNEY

Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1, 2014) – Even Disney/Marvel boss Kevin Feige calls it one of Marvel’s “more obscure” titles. But this rebooted series about a bunch of galactic misfit heroes has fanboys a’Twitter.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015) – Hulk smash, again! The stakes are higher, S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised, and we’re going to guess this turns into next year’s biggest grosser.

Ant-Man (July 17, 2015) – The Avenger we haven’t heard from yet, directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) with Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.

Captain America 3 (May 6, 2016) – Hail Hydra!

Untitled Marvel Film (July 8, 2016) – We’re going to guess… Howard the Duck.

 

FROM FOX

X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23, 2014) – It’s the mutant franchise that keeps on giving.

Fantastic Four (June 19, 2015) – Take 2! A word of advice: If you bring back Galactus, make him more menacing than a cloud.

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27, 2016) – This one's set in the 1980s.

Fantastic Four 2 (July 14, 2017) – Apparently, it’s a given that the first reboot will be a hit.

Wolverine 2 (March 3, 2017) – Actually Wolverine 3, if you count X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Untitled Marvel film (July 13, 2018) – We’re going to guess… Howard the Duck's enemy Dr. Bong.

 

Twitter: @jimslotek

Jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca


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