Captain America revels in anti-hero role
US actor gets greater satisfaction with everyman character than playing Captain America
Chris Evans says he is used to playing heroic men who are selfless.
So the role of the everyman Frank Adler in his new movie Gifted appealed to him.
Frank is a character who is as far away from Captain America, the part Evans is best known for, as he could get.
Opening here tomorrow and directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man movies, (500) Days Of Summer), the drama Gifted sees Frank raising a seven-year-old maths prodigy (the precocious Mckenna Grace), the daughter of his genius sister who committed suicide.
Torn with guilt over her death, he is determined that his niece has as normal an upbringing as possible, until his mother (Lindsay Duncan) enters their lives after a long absence and wants to exploit the child's talent the same way she did with her daughter.
A court battle ensues.
At our meeting at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, the 35-year-old US actor said: "Frank is not a hero. He is a man who thinks he could have been a better man and wasn't.
"He is also a man of few words. And I think while trying to wrestle (with) that guilt and also not being vocal and having an outlet to express this conflict, mixed with speaking to a child, all of it just felt like a character that is different from me in a lot of ways, and certainly nothing I have ever played before."
Evans was looking for a script to direct when he came across this one.
He said: "I remember calling my team and saying, 'I love this one, I want to direct this.' They said, 'Ah well, you are a little late, someone else got it.'"
Six weeks later, his agents called him and asked if he wanted to play the lead, and he jumped at the opportunity to be involved in Gifted one way or another.
On why he has kept the beard he wears in the movie, Evans said: "I really like having a beard. It just helps me live with a certain amount of privacy. Especially because Captain America is clean-shaven and that is easily the thing I am known most for."
Was there a different approach to creating Frank, as opposed to a comic-book character?
He said: "In the Captain America movies, so much of the character is derived from existing material.
"You have comic books that set a kind of blueprint of what fans are expecting. With a movie like Gifted, you can completely call on deep personal experiences that you think will best convey the truth behind the story. But while it's exciting to have no leash, it's a little scary, because there's no road map."
The creative satisfaction he derived from Gifted was much greater, but he is careful not to diss the Marvel movies.
"You feel a certain level of comfort with the Marvel machine and that factory that works real well, so you know that it is going to be kicking out quality products and it kind of becomes old hat.
"Those take a long time, it's a tedious process. You spend a lot of days in the trailer waiting."
On the other hand, Gifted had a small budget and shooting schedule.
"You are getting through seven, 10, 15 pages in a day, and you go home and you really feel like you worked. And it's incredibly satisfying."
"You really feel like you worked."Chris Evans, on filming for Gifted
But he is the first to admit that Captain America made his career.
He said: "If I hadn't played Captain America, I don't think I would have ever had the opportunity to play this character.
"So honestly, in retrospect, it was the best decision I ever made. I had never set out to play a superhero, and even when Captain America came along, I said no a few times because it just didn't seem right.
"In the story I had in my head, it didn't seem to fit. Now I can't imagine myself without it."
While on the set, he dated co-star Jenny Slate, who plays the girl's teacher. But within a year, he is single again.
The 35-year-old US actress said they split because she hadn't quite processed the divorce she was going through and couldn't quite handle being with someone as famous as Evans.
He declined to talk about it, though he added that he would like to be married and have kids someday.
"I have always wanted to have babies and to be a father. My sister has kids, all my friends have children and I love being around them.
"To some degree, having children, you almost get to relive your own childhood.
"And so in that selfish capacity, I am eager to have kids, because there are a lot of things that I bet I have forgotten about my own life."
What about finding the right woman, though?
"I think I am very picky, and I have come real close... but I am also in no rush.
"If you are not okay without it, you are never going to be okay with it.
"So I think a really important way to approach any type of partnership is to make sure that I am doing the best with who I am."