Captain America: The Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson tell M that their off-screen 10-year friendship keeps them going on long action flicks
"You're happy," Scarlett Johansson said, strolling in after Chris Evans, her 32-year-old co-star.
"This is the last one, Scarlett," said Evans laughingly, oblivious to the gathered journalists looking at them.
"For now, until I interview you..."
"So what are you doing for dinner later?" Evans asked Johansson in his own mock interview.
There are many reasons for the US actor to be happy.
For starters, he's back wearing the iconic stars-and-stripes costume as Captain America, aka Steve Rogers.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opens here tomorrow, follows the super-soldier's life after the massive alien invasion that happened in 2012's The Avengers.
Now working for spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers is still trying to adjust to the modern world when he gets embroiled in a conspiracy that puts the world at risk.
A man stuck in the World War II period, where good and evil is black and white, Rogers struggles with the grey areas of diplomacy and politics - which is where Johansson's character, highly-trained spy Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow and Captain America's new sidekick, comes in.
You can say she's the yin to Cap's yang. His morals are strong while hers are questionable. He can't lie, but that's how she makes her living.
The 29-year-old US actress and Evans clearly have a strong chemistry, as evidenced by their playful banter throughout our interview at Park Hyatt Beijing on Monday.
"Chris and I have the good fortune of working together for four films and we've known each other for over 10 years," said Johansson.
"These (action) movies can be tedious to make at times. The hours are long.
"It helps that Chris and I have this familiarity with each other. We're in the same world. We can keep each other going when things seem..."
"...never ending," Evans interrupted.
"We have a wonderful friendship, and that naturally goes on-screen," said Johansson.
Johansson and Evans first worked together in The Perfect Score in 2004. Their next collaboration was in The Nanny Diaries (2007), followed by The Avengers.
They will also work together on The Avengers sequel, Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
BUNDLE OF ENERGY
For someone who is reportedly pregnant with her first child with French fiance Romain Dauriac, Johansson was a picture of energy despite having just flown in from London.
The New Yorker even squeezed in time to visit some of Beijing's famous sites such as Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing Street and the Silk Market.
She also indulged in hot pot, her favourite local dish.
Her baby bump was hard to spot but then again, she was wearing loose drawstring pants and had her arms around her belly most of the time.
We were repeatedly warned not to ask Johansson any personal questions as she wouldn't entertain any, but she was more than happy to talk about being the only girl in the movie.
"No, I didn't get any privileges..."
"Nobody cares about her," Evans said, laughing. "Nobody treats her special, and she won't want it."
Johansson added, laughing: "What kind of treatment would I want? Foot massages?"
Directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has all the explosive sequences required of a summer blockbuster.
But it also features several tender moments between Evans and Johansson, scenes that he cherished.
"Quieter moments are not always easier to shoot because you need to tap into your emotional core, but as actors, that's what we hunt for.
"I don't think actors want to always punch, kick and run really fast. That comes with the territory of action films.
"I think we can all relate to a quiet, still moment of human connection than punching a man with a bionic arm. So anytime you can bring out humanity, it's always welcomed."
To think that Evans once considered turning down the offer to play Cap. He's now one of the most recognised stars in the world as well as a budding film-maker - the Boston native even had the opportunity to direct a small romance called 1:30 Train.
"I don't know where I'll be if I've not been a part of the Marvel universe.
"I really never had giant aspirations. I always wanted to direct, to be honest, and I was working towards it... Marvel just helped fast-track that," he said.
He added: "Agreeing to play Captain America was really, without a question, the best decision I've ever made."
He's contracted to another Captain America movie and has two more The Avengers outings to go, Age Of Ultron included.
After that, he is thinking of going behind the camera for a while.
For Johansson, she's hoping to get her own Black Widow spin-off movie as she enjoyed playing a "strong, independent heroine".
"There's always room for (it)," she said, laughing.
"You just need to ask Marvel for it!"
Though The Falcon is a cool guy, he spends most of his time in Captain America's shadow. He's basically Cap's sidekick, which isn't the coolest thing to be. On the plus side, he really fills out a T-shirt and we can't say enough about the wings.
US actor Mackie, 35, is far from a household name, but he has had supporting roles in tons of flicks for the past 10 years, including The Hurt Locker and Pain & Gain. He also played Tupac Shakur in Notorious!
Without a doubt, this guy is one of the coolest villains ever. His metal arm looks like it's coated with dragon scales. His long fringe flutters perfectly. He fights like a super ninja. He never talks. His past is shadowy and tragic. He's crazy cool.
Like Mackie, Romania-born Stan, 30, has spent the last decade in Hollywood's trenches, appearing in goofy flicks like The Covenant and Hot Tub Time Machine. He has also been a regular in TV shows like Gossip Girl and Once Upon A Time.
AND THE WINNER IS: IT'S A DRAW!
Both these guys are straight-up wicked. One's got the wings. The other has the hair. - Jason Johnson
ROUND THREE: WINTER SOLDIER
He's the rock star of villainy.
ROUND TWO: IT'S A DRAW
They're both jobbers, not stars - yet.
ROUND ONE: THE FALCON
Mechanical bird wings are hard to beat.
Like Captain America, the Winter Soldier is engineered by scientists to be a fighting machine! Unlike Cap, he has a mechanical arm that makes him even stronger and more fearsome-looking.
Captain America is the kind of man's man all the other men want to be friends with, to the point that it's almost a little gay.
In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he's caught in a BFF triangle!
First, there's his old bestie Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who has become the villainous Winter Soldier. Then there's his new bestie Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who will become The Falcon.
Question is, which of Cap's pals is worthy of being his true friend?
Actually, no, that's a stupid question.
The real question is, who's coolest?!
Sam Wilson is a normal guy, but stronger and sexier. A former soldier with plenty of soldierin' skills, he also has an amazing pair of mechanical bird wings that he can use to fly around hither and thither.
7 6 5 4 3 2 The un-American supers 1
Hellboy is from Hell
Nightcrawler is German
Thor is Asgardian
Black Widow is Russian
Superman is Kryptonian
Storm is Kenyan
You don't have to be an American to be a superhero, as these foreigners prove!
Wolverine is Canadian