By the time the opportunity to play Captain America was offered to Chris Evans, the groundswell of popularity for Marvel movies was well under way, and the actor thought he knew what he was dealing with when weighing the part of a lifetime.
“The pros were that I’d be able to take care of my family forever,” Evans told GQ in an interview published Tuesday. “The cons were that I would become deeply, deeply unhappy with fame and loss of control.”
As it turned out, the run of films that began with 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and carried him through the heyday of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — or what he called “the peak of it all,” from 2016-18 — wouldn’t be so bad.
“I love playing that role,” Evans said. “I feel connected to it in a way that when you revisit a character so many times you can’t help but try to absorb some of their traits and measure yourself against them.”
Evans has not been cast as Steve Rogers since 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” with Anthony Mackie taking over the role. Asked if he would do it again, Evans wasn’t sure.
“Yeah, maybe,” Evans told GQ. “I’ll never say never, just because it was such a wonderful experience. But I’m also very precious with it. It’s something that I am very proud of. And like I said, sometimes I can’t believe it even happened. And I wouldn’t want the black eye if it felt like a cash grab or if it didn’t live up to expectations or if it just felt like it wasn’t connected to that original thing. So, no time soon.”
Evans sought to reiterate he was by no means ungrateful, saying the role gave him the opportunity to play something closer to his authentic self.
“In terms of, you know, morality, in terms of your personal integrity and the man you want to be?” Evans said. “I’d like to believe I have more in common with Captain America. He sets a pretty high bar.”
Evans also said there was some truth to Quentin Tarantino’s proclaiming last year that the star power of Marvel films lies in the characters not the actors — not to mention Mackie’s follow-up to Tarantino’s comments, in which the Captain America star said Marvel has led to the “death of the movie star.”
“That was the beauty of working on Marvel films,” Evans said. “You never really had to be front and center. Even in your own films sometimes.
“Quentin Tarantino said it recently,” Evans continued. “And I was like, you know, he’s right. The character is the star. You’re there, but you don’t feel the burden of it.”
Captain America also gave Evans a sense of perspective that ran counter to earlier roles but dovetailed with the experience of his youth and early professional development, both of which were informed by his battle with mental health and anxiety.
“A little late bloomer, a little socially awkward,” Evans called himself. “I didn’t really want to leave my house. You know, one of those guys. You have the one or two friends, tops.”
Even his mother tells GQ for the profile that “he didn’t do well with big groups of kids.”
“I was really apprehensive about taking the role initially,” said Evans, 42, of the offer that came while he was 29. “I remember in my late 20s having a real shift in how I felt on set, how I felt promoting films: a little more anxiety, a little more uncertainty. You always end up questioning: Is this what I should be doing?”
Evans said the consideration was also wrapped up in a bigger-picture view on Hollywood.
“I just wasn’t sure if I was moving closer to myself or further away,” Evans said. “And something inside me kept saying that I was getting further away — that something about this industry wasn’t healthy.”
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