Avengers assemble! Again!
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