It’s one of the biggest summers ever for super heroes at cineplexes, with three major comic heroes gracing the silver screen for the first time. Unlike the Batmans and Spider-Mans of the world, the public at large isn’t overly familiar with this trio. “Captain America: The First Avenger” is the latest in the group of films, coming from Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures on July 22nd.
Filling out Cap’s uniform is actor Chris Evans, a man who’s quite familiar to our readers following roles in four other comic book film adaptations before this one — “Fantastic Four,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Losers.” With “Captain America,” Evans takes center stage as the eponymous hero, helping to usher in the next wave of Marvel Studios films alongside Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, all culminating in next summer’s “The Avengers.” It’s a big role, and one he’s ready to play.
CBR News spoke briefly with Evans during a visit to the “Captain America” set last October at Shepperton Studios, London, England. He was in the middle of a busy day of shooting, but earlier in the day CBR watched as Evans and actor Sebastian Stan, who plays Cap’s wartime sidekick Bucky, stormed a Hydra train in the Alps with guns. The scene found the duo entering the back of a train, set on a gimble to simulate the motion of a moving train. Bucky wore contemporary military clothing of the day while Evans was properly suited up as Captain America, holding the iconic shield in his left hand. To say Evans cast an impressive shadow wearing the suit would be an understatement.
CBR News: Playing Captain America has to be one of the most physically demanding roles you’ve played thus far in your career. Can you tell us how you prepared for the role physically as well as mentally, and what was involved?
Chris Evans: On the physical side, yeah, a lot of lifting weights and eating a lot of protein. For me, developing the character was just reading a lot of comic books, you know. You want to make sure that the fanboys are happy. They’re the ones that go time and time again. They’re the ones that you’re making the movie for, so you want to make sure that you get an idea of who they think the character should be.
What does it mean to you to basically be draped in the American flag for this film?
Ha, well, to me, I’m not trying to get too lost in the American side of it. This isn’t a flag waving movie. It is red, white and blue, but it just so happens that the character was created in America during war time, when there was a common enemy, even though it is Captain America. I’ve said before in interviews, it feels more like he should just be called Captain Good. [Laughs] You know, he was created at a time when there was this undeniable evil and this guy was kind of created to fight that evil. I think that everyone could agree that Nazis were bad and he, Cap, just so happens to wear the red, white and blue.
Talk a little bit about working with Hugo Weaving, who’s playing the Red Skull. He brings a great intensity to every role.
What can you tell us about Hugo?
He’s just a good man. I mean, it’s always disappointing when you work with fantastic actors that you respect professionally and then you meet them and realize they’re kind of jerks. [Laughs] That couldn’t be more opposite with Hugo. He’s just the most… I’d say patient man because I can’t imagine what it feels like coming in to work at 4:00 AM and sitting there for three hours of make-up and then having to stay in a good mood while shooting. He somehow manages to still be a good person, and he’s still so happy to be here and he loves doing it. He’s so good at it and he has no ego, he always listens to whoever’s directing or whoever he’s acting with, he never thinks he’s bigger than the part, or bigger than the project. He’s just a consummate professional. It’s really impressive.
Counting this film, you’ve now been in five comic book films, a list that includes two “Fantastic Four” features, “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Losers.” So, are you a comic fan now? Have you become one of us?
Ha! I mean, I think they’re fantastic. I love ’em, you know. I wish I read them more as a kid. I’m sure it kind of breeds intelligence in a way that TV couldn’t possibly. [Laughs] But as far as in my spare time, do I read them now? No, I get enough of ’em at work. [Laughs] I go right to the TV.
How has preparing for this role differed from those other comic book roles you’ve done?
It’s pretty similar, to be honest. You get the source material, you do as much research as you can as far as finding out as, like I said, what fanboys, what they’re looking for, and then you work with the director. If the director wants to take more liberties with the character, you have to kind of incorporate his notions, too, because at the end of the day it’s his film. You want to please the fans, but at the end of the day you’re an employee of the director. It’s really just trying to find a happy union of all those things. But, really, it’s a pretty similar approach in each film when it comes to making comic films.
Have you seen the video game yet?
No, no, nothing yet.
You did voice-over work for the game. When you step in to the sound booth to do that work, how do you approach it?
Well, you just have to give a little bit more, you know? You don’t really have the luxury of acting with your body or your face, it’s just your voice. And we’ve all played — well not all of us — I’ve played video games in the past, so you want to make sure you’re full of energy and life because the game’s going to be a little dull without it.
Check back with CBR Monday for our report form the movie’s set!
“Captain America: The First Avenger” opens July 22, 2011.