There’s something great about a grumpy American, which is good because Chris Evans is in a foul mood.
This is a man who recently fought off fierce competition to land the lead in Captain America, the latest comic-book blockbuster from Marvel. He’s played the Human Torch in two Fantastic Four films, used to date Jessica Biel, and we were expecting him to be someone who loves life; a man who high fives anything and everything, who uses the word ‘awesome’ as a verb, adjective and noun.
Yet here he is, Captain America himself, on the phone telling us that life stinks, the weather stinks, traffic jams stink, everything stinks. It’s partially because he hates doing interviews, but mainly just because he’s a big ol’ surly Boston grump. An unexpected curmudgeon. And it makes such a refreshing change from all the gushing positivity you normally get from actors of his calibre. Chris Evans, we like you.
How are you doing today?
Very good. Well, no, actually, not good at all. It’s been a long day, and then I got stuck in traffic for, like, forever.
Did you get any road rage?
I wasn’t the one driving, so it’s fine. I’d probably have got more steamed up if I was behind the wheel, but it’s oddly easier to take when you’re just the passenger.
Where in the world are you right now?
New York. New York City.
Is that home these days, or are you still very much a Boston boy?
Oh yeah, Boston. Boston will always be home. I certainly hope so, anyway. I can’t really imagine wanting to live anywhere else right now.
How much time do you get to spend in Boston?
Oh, more than you’d think. Whenever I’ve got a little downtime, I go back to Boston. I try to get at least five months of the year off. I try to push for six, really.
And what do you do with yourself back home when you’ve got that time off?
Whatever I feel like.
OK, so what was your favourite moment making Captain America?
The day we wrapped.
It was that bad?
It’s just that it was such a long shoot. It was a pretty gruelling experience. Long hours, every day, really physically hard, so it was nice to finally finish and have some proper time off.
Did you pour yourself a big drink the moment you wrapped?
So what was the hardest bit about this film, then? Why was it so tough?
It was just the fact that it was so time consuming. You’re working every single day, you’re working long hours, there are no breaks, and you are far from home. It’s draining.
What do you do to try to lighten the mood and stop yourself going nuts?
I usually have a lot of friends of mine, from Boston, with me. When you’re drained like that, it’s good to feel normal as much as possible, and I can only really do that when my friends from home are around. So we just hang out in the brief moments we can, and it takes away a lot of the strain.
Did you enjoy doing the stunts?
I enjoy doing them if I’m ever allowed to. If they’re willing to let me get in the ring and put on the gloves, I’ll do it, but that’s not always the case. It can’t always be about the actors having fun — it’s about making the movie.
What’s the scariest stunt you’ve ever done?
Hmm, God, I don’t know. I can’t think off the top of my head. The scariest stuff isn’t the things you think it’d be — the jumps and explosions, all of that. It’s actually the fight sequences, the hand-to-hand combat kind of stuff. To make it look like you’re fighting, a lot of the time, you actually have to fight, and going up against these other big guys, and knowing you’ve got to properly fight one another, that can be scary.
So you actually have to hurt people sometimes?
What about injuries — what’s the worst injury you’ve received on a film?
It’s more the regularity of them. Every day it’s more bumps and bruises. But that’s what you expect — it’s a physical shoot. Doing these hand-to-hand combat scenes, which there were a lot of in Captain America, you’ve got to make them look real. If someone needs to punch me, I get punched. I pick up a few knocks, but nothing I can’t handle.
Is it true that you had to go into therapy before beginning work on Captain America?
Yeah. Well, you know, that’s true. You know, just to, try to… I… struggle with anxiety sometimes, especially when promoting films like this. Just the life of doing what I do, being in the public eye, it’s a stressful environment. So it’s good to go and talk about the things that cause your anxiety.
What do you get most anxious about?
Sorry, can you repeat the question?
What causes your anxiety?
It’s very difficult for me to talk about myself. You feel strange, self-aware, very foolish. Your third eye clicks on, just to try to maintain a healthy sense of perspective, and you think, “What am I doing here? I’m just making a movie, and people want all these things from me.” It seems strange to have so much fuss over a film.
Are you a private kind of person?
What about the fans — do you enjoy interacting with them?
It’s nice when you see a little kid who has been impacted by what you’ve done… Sure. But they’re not all little kids. Unfortunately, sometimes you’re approached by people pretending to be fans who are actually vultures looking to make a buck.
Much of Captain America was filmed in the UK. How did you find our country?
It was OK, but I didn’t get to explore much. We were working so hard that I would pretty much go straight back from set to my apartment. There was no time to do anything else.
What’s your favourite thing about Britain?
I dunno. It’s a great place. I like the theatre.
I saw Les Misérables. One of my friends came over to visit, and he had never seen Les Mis. It’s kind of a clichéd production. Everyone in the world has surely seen Les Mis, but my friend hadn’t, so I said we have to go and see it.
Is there anything that you hate about the UK?
Your weather could be better. That stinks.
Did you discover the British Chris Evans while you were over here?
Oh yeah, I’ve heard about this guy. I’ve never met him, but, I do know about him, yeah. I’ve heard things.
When did you first become aware of the ‘other’ Chris Evans?
About three years ago. I’m still not too familiar with exactly what this other Chris Evans does, but I know that he’s really popular.
We’ve got a little test for you now: how well do you know other superheroes from their aliases?
Are you any good at these things?
No, I don’t think so.
Do you know Hal Jordan?
How would I order?
Right. Hal Jordan. No, I don’t know Hal Jordan, sorry.
Haven’t a clue. You haven’t told me who Hal Jordan is yet.
Green Lantern, I think.
And who’s Frank Castle?
Who’s doing this?
Right. I don’t know who he is.
Erm… Neither do I, actually.
Wait, he’s The Punisher. Hank Pym?
No, no I don’t know him.
Let’s move on. I read that you’re the nephew of a congressman — is that correct?
Do you have any political ambitions yourself?
Well, not right now, but you never know. Maybe in the future.
What causes are close to your heart?
I’m certainly of a Democratic mindset. I’m certainly liberal. I believe in the government being funded to support people who need help. So that’s any number of causes right there.
At the start of Captain America, we see the weakling version of you. How was that created?
Oh that was just CGI. For the most part it was computers, just shrinking me.
Was it ever an option to do a Christian Bale and starve yourself to slim down?
That really wouldn’t have been effective. Timing wouldn’t allow that. Marvel releases the film’s announcement, closely followed by the date that the movie will be in theatres. So there isn’t the time to take out six more months to lose the weight. Even if there was, I don’t think that would have worked. They took my skeleton down, they moved my jawline, and made my cheekbones gaunt. They took my shoulder blades and made them less broad. Even if I had got skinny, my skeleton would have remained the same. They just wanted to bring everything down.
Were you freaked out when you saw the final results?
Oh yeah, it’s crazy. It’s amazing what they have accomplished.
Did you ever look like that as a kid?
Oh, of course. Until I was 16.
What’s your favourite Captain America era? Is it the ‘punching Hitler in the face’ era, ‘the commie basher’ era?
Is that the best era of Captain America, would you say?
Oh, the best era [pronouncing it ‘error’].
It’s certainly the original, and the ‘punching Hitler in the face’ era is where he began, and that’s kind of what we’re exploring. So it serves our purpose.
Your profile’s about to go supernova. What’s the best and worst thing about that?
It’s great in the sense that you can start to support your family. There’s no greater feeling than taking care of the people you love. The compromise is that you lose your anonymity. You can’t lead a private lifestyle any more, and that can be difficult.
To what extent can you have a private life, then?
Well, it depends. You talk to someone such as Britney Spears and she says it’s pretty much gone. She can’t even walk out of her front door. But there are levels, there are degrees, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet.
If your life ever got too close to Britney’s, would you give up acting?
Oh, sure. Yeah. You can only take so much.
Captain America is at cinemas nationwide from 29 July
(Image: All Star)