In our superhero-saturated age, several actors have had the honor of playing multiple characters from big-name comics. None of them, however, are quite as high profile as those of Chris Evans, who has played both the Human Torch and now Captain America. His other four-color credits include Evil Ex #2 in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and one of the misfit mercenaries in The Losers, as well as the lead in the comic-book inspired Push. Captain America has the potential to be the biggest of the bunch, however. Evans sat down in a round-table discussion with multiple members of the press to talk about the project last Saturday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. A partial transcript of the conversation follows.
Question: Was it a challenge to handle the psychological aspects of this character, the scrawny kid who turns into Studley Do Right overnight?
Chris Evans: It was fun. I can definitely relate to being the wimpy kid. If you’ve seen pictures of me when I was a kid… I weighed 135 pounds until I was at least 17, so I know what it’s like to be small.
The truth is, I think we tried to keep him relatively the same man psychologically throughout the film. I think the goal is, in the last frame of the film, you hope to still see the skinny guy. The part of the movie, when you’re meeting him, if you connect with him and like him, hopefully that’s the same guy you see at the end. And there’s hopefully not too much change… but I think the reason he was chosen for this experiment is because he wouldn’t let this physical form change who he is. He is who he is, and that’s what makes him worthy of this gift. He appreciates everything he had before; he was okay without it, he’ll be okay with it.
Q: Were you ever bullied?
CE: No, I wasn’t a victim of bullies, but you can definitely feel the sting if you like a girl and she’s dating the quarterback. I was in the plays, with my tights and my tap shoes, and yeah… you feel the sting.
Q: This is a very wholesome film, and that’s a tough one to deliver without being kitsch or boring. What was the key for getting into that state of mind?
CE: That’s a good question, because he’s not some wise-cracking guy, and my bread and butter has been making jokes. There’s no jokes here! I don’t get one joke in the movie.
I have a good buddy who I grew up with, named Charlie Morris. And he is Captain America. He’s the best human being I know. And he’s not boring at all. He has all the moral character, these values that Steve Rogers would have, but he’s so complex. How many of you know someone who does the right thing just because it’s the right thing? Not because someone’s watching, or you’re scared about going to Heaven or Hell. It’s just right, that’s it. If you were the last man alive, you’d still do the right thing. What makes a man like that? That’s interesting. I just tried to play that angle and hoped that it would still be dynamic enough to watch on film for a couple of hours.
Q: Which costume did you like wearing the most on film: this one or The Avengers costume?
CE: They each have pros and cons. The first Cap costume is very cumbersome and thick. It’s bulky, it’s tough to do fight sequences in, but the helmet/cowl can come on and off at will. The current wardrobe is a bit different. The suit is much more free; the range of motion is fantastic, you can really get some good fight sequences in. It’s a little bit more form-fitting. But the cowl has some changes that make it more difficult to get on and off.
Q: Does it have little wings?
CE: (grins). You think you’re going to get some information out of me right now? I’m not telling you that!
Q: Which one do you like looking at more?
CE: That’s a tough call. I’ve not seen the newer one on film, so I don’t know.
Q: Did you get a break at all before moving on to The Avengers?
CE: No, not really. We finished this in December of last year, we broke until March, and then in March we had to do about three weeks of reshoots. There were a couple of scenes we hadn’t even shot yet, and then we went right to The Avengers in April, so it was pretty seamless.
Q: Do you like doing it like that?
CE: To prepare a character, psychologically, it’s fine. But it’s nice having a film come out, and gauge the audience’s reaction. It would be nice to see the fans’ reaction and adjust accordingly.
Q: Joe Johnston said it was a tough call for you to take this role. Was it because you had played a big superhero before? What was the moment when you knew that this was what you wanted to do?
CE: It was two things. One was the commitment. It started out as a nine-picture deal, and then it dropped down to a six-picture deal. But even six movies… they could spread those out and it could be ten years. I could be doing this until I’m forty. That’s a crazy thing to think about; I don’t think anybody can make a decision for the next ten years of their life. That’s crazy. Movies for me up until now have been one at a time. If my passion shifted, if my search in life went somewhere else, I could go do that. This just meant that I couldn’t, and that’s scary.
Then there’s the potential lifestyle change. I’ve been making movies for ten years, but I can still go to a ballgame. I can still go to Disney World. I can still live my life with relative ease and anonymity. This movie could potentially change that, and that’s scary too.
So those two things sparked the apprehension. But it’s too bad, because the people involved are so fantastic. Joe, Kevin [Feige]… if this movie were in a vacuum, it would be a no-brainer. They’re great people to make a movie for. If it was one gig, it wouldn’t even be a question. Even more importantly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you can’t make decisions out of fear. Those are the ones you end up regretting. The more it kind of came back to me, it felt like I was running from it for all the wrong reasons. So I went for it.