With a few weeks to go before the summer tentpole season hits high gear into theaters across the nation, USA Weekend sat down with Chris Evans to discuss one of the most highly-anticipated releases, Captain America: The First Avenger, with lead star Chris Evans. A number of topics are discussed in the piece: The actor's thoughts on the Red Skull effects, what he thinks about also playing the part in next year's The Avengers, how a certain "Captain" song got stuck in his head and how he almost turned down the change to play the iconic Marvel hero.
On almost turning down the part:
Do you enjoy that extra responsibility?
No! My God, I hate it! [Laughs] I almost didn’t do this movie because I hate that so much. It’s just not for me. I don’t know, it’s a strange thing to talk about yourself. You have to look at it as a job, you have to look at it as work. If all of a sudden you stop – at least if I stop — in the middle of an interview and look at myself, I become very uncomfortable, very nervous. It just feels strange. I feel false, it doesn’t feel right. This movie is a lot of that – it’s gonna be a lot of press. I have a little bit of an anxiety issue. I wasn’t making whatever movie I wanted to make – you still have to struggle — but I was very happy, very content, with what I was doing. I’d make a movie every now and then and I’ve made a good living and I got to do what I loved and I managed to stay out of the public eye, and I was very happy. This was one of those things where it was like, “Alright, if you do this, there’s really no off switch. There’s no rewind. You’ve got to make sure you’re ready and that you really, really want this.” A lot of times, people only see the good part and they forget how tricky it can be. For some reason, I only saw the bad. [Laughs] When I first got offered the movie, I just only saw the negatives and ran from it.
What changed your mind?
The fact that I was scared. I said to someone close to me, “I was offered this movie and I think I’m going to say no.” And she said, “No, you’re not. You’re going to do this movie.” I said, “Why?” And she said, “Because you can’t live your life based on fear.” That’s a really good point: I think I’d end up having more regret if I didn’t do it because I was scared than if I did it, and whatever comes, comes. At least I wasn’t a coward.
On the effects-related job that comes with playing a hero in the past and present:
They Benjamin Buttoned you a little bit and digitally made you a 98-pound weakling at the beginning of the movie. What was it like seeing that part after you’ve just gone and worked out hard for three months?
Well, it wasn’t that foreign to me because that’s what I looked like for a big chunk of my life. [Laughs] When I saw it, I was like, “My family is gonna die.” This is what I looked like for all of all middle school. Up until maybe sophomore year, I was a pretty skinny kid for a long time. It looks pretty normal. It was a crazy process doing that stuff. They went back and forth on the type of technology they were going to use. Initially, they were just going to do body shrinking, and then they thought, “Well, maybe we can get another skinny actor and put Chris’ head on it,” and I really, really was against that. I said to Joe, “Look, I know we want this to look good and this effect to not be distracting from the film, but it has to be my performance. I don’t want to share this. Your body is a huge piece of the acting puzzle, and I don’t want to have somebody else’s body tell the story that I’m trying to tell.” So they did some tweaking and they did a bunch of tests and we went back to the initial plan to shrink my body. Anytime my body’s completely still, if I’m lying on that bed or if I’m sitting in a chair not moving, it was easier for them to put my head on a smaller body. But anytime there was movement or action or acting involved, Joe and I were pretty adamant about saying, “Look, you’ve got to shrink me down.” And they did. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’ve seen a couple different scenes of the shrunken stuff and it looks amazing.
And we’ve seen how the Red Skull looks now, too.
Oh, that looks so badass. You’d be talking to Hugo on set and he’d be wearing that thing, and you kinda want to just touch it. It looked so good! It didn’t look fake — it looked like there is a man with a red skull standing next to me who is evil.
Check out the rest of the interview here.
The film stars Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Toby Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Neal McDonough and Derek Luke. Johnston led the direction, based on a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Plot Concept: "Captain America: The First Avenger" will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America.
Captain America will hit 3D/2D theaters July 22, 2011.