Chris Evans' long road to superstardom as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was not easy. In a new interview, the Knives Out star said he suffered panic attacks during the early days of his career. At one point, he thought his anxiety would ruin his career, especially if he hit it big, so he turned down the first invitations to test for the role of Steve Rogers.
The Boston-born Evans started his movie career in 2000, and after just five years, he was already the face of a major franchise. 20th Century Fox cast him as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, which turned out to be his breakout movie. In 2007, when he started working on the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, he began experiencing severe anxiety. While making Puncture in Houston three years later, he "started having mini panic attacks on set," Evans told The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast.
"I really started to think, 'I'm not sure if this [acting] is the right thing for me, I'm not sure if I'm feeling as healthy as I should be feeling,'" Evans admitted. It was the reason why Evans turned down Marvel's offers to audition for the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. If they cast him, he would be signed for nine movies. Evans worried this would lead to unmanageable anxiety. "My suffering would be my own," he said.
His agents were shocked, especially as Evans turned down more invitations to screen test, even when Marvel lowered the number of required films to six. Marvel chief Kevin Feige wanted Evans to play Captain America so much though that he offered Evans the part outright. Stripped of the burden of screen testing, Evans finally accepted. Evans called it the "best decision" he has ever made.
"To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition," Evans told THR. He quickly "fell in love" with the role and he also connected with his co-stars, especially Thor actor Chris Hemsworth. "Hemsworth and I were very new and we also had the stand-alones and so I think we shared in our anxiety, and at least that made it a little bit more comforting," he explained.
Evans' Marvel deal is now finished. He ended up playing Captain America in seven movies and made uncredited cameo appearances in a handful of others. He can now be seen in Defending Jacob, which is available on Apple TV+. The series is based on William Landay's novel about a father dealing with his 14-year-old son being accused of murder. Although the series earned mixed reviews, Evans' performance was widely praised by critics.