Avengers: Endgame brought the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to an epic close. And Chris Evans’ Captain America has been front and center for much of it. Along with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, Cap has been the MCU’s co-lead for nearly a decade.
In fact, it will be hard for fans to see anyone other than Evans in the role. With the exception of Spider-Man and the Hulk, few major MCU heroes have endured recasts. So Marvel fans might be shocked to know Evans almost didn’t take the part in the first place. In fact, he was terrified.
Chris Evans has had an extremely successful movie career
Even aside from the MCU, Evans has cultivated a fascinating career. The actor had his first big break in 2001’s Not Another Teen Movie. Then in the early 2000s, Evans followed that with The Perfect Score — opposite future MCU star Scarlett Johansson — and thriller Cellular, both in 2004.
Just a year later, he landed his first superhero role as Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. For years, Evans attempted a balance of blockbuster fare and critical darlings such as Sunshine. But his career didn’t seem to hit its stride until after 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Since then, he’s appeared in Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, drama Gifted, and — perhaps most notably — Knives Out. The MCU has given Evans a huge career boost, to be sure. And he’s leveraged it beautifully. So why was he so nervous about joining the MCU in the first place?
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The actor repeatedly turned down screen tests for Captain America
The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast spoke to Evans about that very question. And the actor was very candid about his mental state just before signing on as the MCU’s Captain America. After all, he’d already played a superhero.
“It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set,” Evans said of his time filming 2011’s Puncture. “I really started to think, ‘I’m not sure if [acting] is the right thing for me, I’m not sure if I’m feeling as healthy as I should be feeling.’”
So Evans was less than eager when Marvel came calling. After all, Iron Man had already been a huge hit. And the actor wasn’t sure he was ready for the next level of fame he knew joining the MCU would bring. In fact, he rejected several chances to test for the role. This tactic inadvertently led Marvel to sweeten his salary and decrease his commitment from nine movies to six.
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Evans adjusted quickly to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Even so, Evans only agreed to take the deal after Marvel Studios offered him the role outright. No screen test required. The actor reached out to his loved ones, his therapist, and even Downey for feedback. Ultimately, he has no regrets about bringing Steve Rogers to life, Evans told Awards Chatter.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I really owe that to [Marvel Studios head] Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake,” Evans said. “To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.”
Evans even found a kindred spirit in Chris Hemsworth. Like him, Hemsworth was asked to carry a superhero movie in the early days of the MCU. And the two Chrises lacked the level of fame or experience as their fellow Avengers. Now, of course, the two stars created big-screen icons. And Evans remains thankful for the chance to step behind Cap’s shield.
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