CHRIS EVANS

Avengers as­sem­ble! Again!

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Abig kid at heart – that’s what we’re dis­cov­er­ing Chris Evans is. And, it turns out, he’s a bit of a geek too.

The man be­hind Cap­tain Amer­ica’s winged mask has started our con­ver­sa­tion by say­ing how much of a comic book fan he is and, well, you know we love a man who loves his comics…

“I didn’t know who Ul­tron was prior to Joss [Whe­don, writer and direc­tor] throw­ing him in the movie…” he says of the big bad in the lat­est su­per­hero block­buster, Avengers: Age of Ul­tron.

“That’s so funny!” he says when we ref­er­ence hav­ing first ex­pe­ri­enced the ro­botic vil­lain in 1984’s Se­cret Wars se­ries. He adopts a mock­ingly boasty voice. “I kind of fancy my­self a bit of a comic con­nois­seur, but he was new to me – I’m im­pressed you knew who he was.”

Is it wrong that we’re cheer­ing on the bad guy?

“No! Of course not! That’s what makes good movies like this. Look how good Tom Hid­dle­ston was. The more you like the bad guy, the more en­ter­tain­ing the movie is. If you don’t care about the bad guy at all then there re­ally isn’t much conf lict to in­vest in.”

It turns out Chris hasn’t read Se­cret Wars, so we’re still that lit­tle bit geekier. But he’s the man in charge, so he wins. Just.

“It sounds silly to say this but it re­ally is grow­ing on me,” he says of the role in ques­tion. “The first movie, you’re so scared and the sec­ond one, you’re try­ing to not mess up this amaz­ing group en­sem­ble that’s try­ing to kind of rev­o­lu­tionise the way they do comic book films. By the third time you put the suit on, with Cap­tain Amer­ica 2, you re­ally start to find your foot­ing and then hit your stride and feel re­ally com­fort­able. You’re very present with it, you’re not nec­es­sar­ily wor­ried about the fu­ture or try­ing to an­a­lyse the past. You’re very much present. And I’m lov­ing it. It’s kind of at the point where you’re al­most sad to see the end com­ing around the cor­ner in the next cou­ple of years.”

The 33-year-old seems sur­prised when we men­tion that he’s fast on the way to be­ing the ac­tor to play a su­per­hero role the most – with Hugh Jackman cur­rently reign­ing with seven stints as Wolver­ine.

“Wow, that’s a lot… You sign those big con­tracts and that was part of my ini­tial ap­pre­hen­sion when I first signed up, be­cause they DO have a plan, and the plan in­volves you to be com­mit­ted to a role for six movies. And that’s just kind of in­tim­i­dat­ing. But now that it’s kind of hap­pened and we’ve ac­tu­ally crossed the mid­way point, it al­most feels like it’s gone by a bit too quick.”

On the day Chris and GT speak, the news is full of him vis­it­ing, in full cos­tume, sick chil­dren in hos­pi­tal with an­other Marvel-lous Chris. That would be Chris Pratt, aka Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord. Ever hum­ble, he al­most shrugs it off.

“Oh right, yeah, that was a fun trip…”

Does he not think he’s open­ing

the flood­gates to lots of gay men putting on fake coughs to try and get a visit from the pair of them in cos­tume?

He laughs hard. “That’s re­ally funny ac­tu­ally. It’s nice be­ing able to do that stuff, and Chris Pratt’s such a good guy – I’ve re­ally got to give him credit. He was the one be­hind or­gan­is­ing all of it, so I can’t take too much of the credit.” See, we told you. Hum­ble. And that cos­tume is no easy thing… Michelle Pfeif­fer used lots of talc in Bat­man Re­turns – does the Cap­tain have a sim­i­lar trick?

“There re­ally is no trick get­ting into it, it’s with the help of mul­ti­ple peo­ple. The prob­lem is just the amount of sweat that’s pro­duced. At the end of the day you’re peel­ing that cos­tume off and there’s prob­a­bly… you lose at least five, ten pounds a day. That might be a bit of an over-ex­ag­ger­a­tion, but it cer­tainly does feel that way. It’s a tough thing to do stunt work in. When you start run­ning around and throw­ing punches and kicks, you re­ally start heat­ing up.”

Do we spot a side­line for when Avengers fin­ishes – The Cap­tain Amer­ica Work­out DVD?

Chris laughs. “Yes! That’s right!” He adopts an ad­ver­tis­ing voice. “All you need is a Cap­tain Amer­ica suit and trust me, you WILL lose weight!”

Does that not pose a prob­lem, given that he needs to main­tain a cer­tain size?

“Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve al­ways said to the higher-ups at Marvel. They have to sym­pa­thise with the fact that we’re all try­ing to put on as much mus­cle as we pos­si­bly can, but th­ese suits are so counter-pro­duc­tive. Once you start film­ing, you’re ONLY los­ing weight. It’s so hard to main­tain your size, that’s why you try and get as big as you pos­si­bly can prior to film­ing, be­cause by the time you fin­ish shoot­ing you’re gonna be about ten pounds lighter.”

Be­tween shoot­ing, does he slim down?

“Oh, I lose it ALL. I lose ev­ery bit of mus­cle I’ve gained dur­ing the film. The sec­ond we’ve fin­ished film­ing I don’t even think about the gym for months. So I’m ac­tu­ally just get­ting back into it right now. I started pick­ing up some weights around Fe­bru­ary. It takes about three months to get back where you need to be. But in the in­be­tween time I avoid the gym like the plague, be­cause, you know, your body can only take so much. My body, nat­u­rally, doesn’t want to be as big as I try to make it for those films. So you try to give your body a rest. You give your joints a rest, you just let your body re­cu­per­ate. But now it’s time to get back in ac­tion.”

What’s his best tip for get­ting that body?

“Hmmm… This sounds so meat­head-ish but you re­ally have to do bench press and squats. Those two things, your whole body just kind of gets big­ger as a re­sult. They’re bet­ter than any other in­di­vid­ual ex­er­cise I can think of. Ev­ery­thing just kind of grows…”

But how many, un­til we can look like that? He laughs. “I wish I could give you some short­cuts, un­for­tu­nately there is NO short­cut.”

Talk­ing of body, does he not feel that Thor is steal­ing his shirt­less thun­der?

“I think Thor steals EV­ERY­ONE’S shirt­less thun­der, he’s tough to com­pete with.” He thinks about it and chuck­les. “Well, Marvel know what they’re do­ing, what can I say…”

Uh, that they’re wrong? Although Star-Lord is now creep­ing up the pop­u­lar­ity stakes with the gay fans – what’s the Cap­tain go­ing to do to fight back?

“Oh God, it’s a los­ing battle I sup­pose. Some you just can’t win!” he laughs.

We sug­gest he’s topped the polls be­fore, he can again…

“Which polls? The shirt­less ones? Oh no, am I slip­ping in the polls? No, you can be hon­est… Go ahead, give me the truth, have I fallen? God­dammit!” Well it’s Star-Lord’s fault. “Oh, is it? Well I might have to take him out…”

He’s pre­vi­ously men­tioned Brad Pitt as his man crush – and he’s stick­ing with that.

“Yeah, prob­a­bly still go­ing to be Brad. He’s just in too many of my favourite movies. He’s a tough one to beat, too.”

He’s happy to joke along as we make our oblig­a­tory gay ref­er­ences, but we can’t not ask about the gay fan base that put him, a straight man, in those polls…

“I guess I don’t al­ways com­part­men­talise it like that, like, ‘This is my gay fan base and that’s my straight fan base,’” he laughs. “It’s just nice to have a fan base, I sup­pose. So any­one that comes up and has some­thing nice to say, I don’t say ‘OK, put that one in the gay box,’” he laughs again. “I guess I don’t see it that way.”

Some­thing else that makes our geek­ish gay heart flut­ter – ru­mours that Spi­der-Man will join Chris in Civil War… He adopts a very know­ing tone. “That’s right…”

How does he feel about shar­ing the screen with the web-slinger?

“I think it’s great! I love what Marvel is do­ing. Marvel is re­ally try­ing to break rules and tread new ter­ri­tory and just give the fans what they want. It’s an ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­ity and I’m hop­ing that comes to­gether be­cause I think that would just be a kind of spec­ta­cle. I think peo­ple would be thrilled to see that cross­over hap­pen, so I’m keep­ing my fin­gers crossed.”

This is the kind of thing that’s go­ing to make the in­ter­net ex­plode.

“Yeah, ex­actly, ex­actly. Well, I mean, even me,” he says, sud­denly ex­cited. “Just as a fan of comic books, that’s some­thing I wanna see too! So I’m hon­oured to be a part of it.”

Who does he think should be the new Spi­der-Man?

“God, that’s a good ques­tion. I’d say maybe go young. Make him 16-years-old like he’s sup­posed to be in the comic books. That ac­tu­ally might be kinda cool to give a very youth­ful feel to the char­ac­ter. Marvel… They don’t make bad de­ci­sions, they re­ally don’t.”

Maybe in mer­chan­dise, we sug­gest, hav­ing seen his face on un­der­pants… His mother keeps all of the Cap­tain Amer­ica mer­chan­dise – “we’re run­ning out of space in our at­tic…” – and the weird­est thing he’s seen his face on is chew­ing gum, but be­ing an ac­tion fig­ure ranks high on his achieve­ments.

“It’s great. I kind of wish I could some­how rewind my life and go back to be­ing 11-years-old and kinda pit my­self against He-Man in a gi­ant battle to the death in my bed­room. I still, ev­ery now and then, might try and slip into my child­hood and throw out a few catch­phrases while I make my ac­tion fig­ure run across the kitchen ta­ble. It’s fun. It’s fun to tap into your youth and kind of see it through a child’s eyes.”

With ru­mours that Chris is pack­ing it all in to be­come a direc­tor, we’re con­cerned for the fu­ture of our Cap­tain. But fear not…

“I’d ven­ture to say if they’d have me… I think it’s al­most like high school. You’re kind of al­ways look­ing ahead, about when you’ll grad­u­ate, but then when grad­u­a­tion day ar­rives you kind of don’t wanna leave. So I wouldn’t be sur­prised if, once we wrap In­fin­ity Wars… I AM gonna try and fo­cus on di­rect­ing a bit more, but by no means am I done act­ing. And if they’d have me back, yeah, I’d prob­a­bly con­sider it.”

So there’s a chance we will see that face-off with Star-Lord? “Wouldn’t that be fun?” But who would win… “God, that’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. I’m gonna go with Cap. Gotta go with Cap.”

Avengers: Age of Ul­tron is in cine­mas now, @chri­se­vans

WORDS DAR­REN SCOTT IMAGES DIS­NEY

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