Betrayed by the system. Cast out by his beloved country’s leadership. Suddenly, bitterly at odds with longtime friends. It sure has been a rough couple of movies for Chris Evans’s Captain America.
“Government and the military were always where he looked to find order and a sense of home,” says Sudbury native Evans, speaking by phone from New York. “In ‘The Winter Soldier,’ when those failed him, his chosen family became the thing he would set his watch to. Then, in ‘Civil War,’ that fell apart.”
Audiences looking for the old familiar Steve Rogers, super soldier, may have to sit tight for a bit in watching “Avengers: Infinity War.” “There’s been this period of sadness and disillusionment, where you go inside yourself for a while,” he continues. “But we’ll see him reemerging and reconnecting.”
Evans, 36, shared further thoughts on the new movie — and his seven-year tour of duty as Cap — during a day off from his Broadway debut, “Lobby Hero,” a revival of a drama by “Manchester by the Sea” writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.
Q. You’ve been playing Captain America since “The First Avenger,” back in 2011. Has the process of making these movies changed for you?
A. During the first couple of films, I was a little overwhelmed, I suppose. You’re grateful to be there, but also intimidated by the magnitude and the responsibility. But then as you get more and more comfortable with the process, everything kind of ascends in unison. The people that you’re working with start to become family, you become much more familiar with the way these things come to life, and you can start being more precise and involved.
Q. What’s been most fulfilling about the way you’ve been able to develop Cap over this many movies?
A. It’s exciting to actually get to grow with a character and find a more broad, long-term arc, versus having to accomplish something in an hour and a half. But to be honest, none of it would really work if it weren’t for the people at Marvel. They care so much about the characters because they’re fans themselves. You just do this one small thing, and then you get to stand on their shoulders.
Q. Which actors do you interact with most out of the sprawling “Infinity War” cast? And are Marvel’s pairings purely about the story, or does chemistry figure into it?
A. I think they factor in a lot of things — who the fans enjoy watching together; who the characters benefit from, based on their natures, where they’re trying to send each one. Without spoiling anything, I’d say I have a lot of stuff with Scarlett [Johansson] again this time. One of Cap’s through-lines has been his relationship with Black Widow. It’s an unlikely friendship, where they really depend on each other in a very specific way.
Q. Is the physical aspect of playing Cap and the toll it takes still comparable to when you started?
A. No, I definitely can feel myself aging a little. There were a couple of moments in the script where I read them and thought, “Wow, this is going to be a challenge.” It’s still fun to go to work and really throw yourself around, and it’s rewarding to go home on those days and feel you contributed and gave it everything you had. But it certainly is a bit harder to wake up the next morning [laughs].
Q. If there’s some part of Cap’s iconography that people now think of specifically as a Chris Evans touch, what would you hope it is?
A. Being selfless without being sanctimonious. It’s a danger — he’s a very magnanimous character, very noble, and I think that can slip into piety pretty easily. So trying to keep that sense of being a good man without, basically, being annoying [laughs].
Q. That’s quite a mustache you’re sporting for the cop character you play in “Lobby Hero.” Should fans be bracing themselves when they catch you on the “Avengers” publicity circuit?
A. Yeah, sadly, I can’t take that off [laughs]. That thing’s with me for the next month.