Captain America (Chris Evans)

How Robert Downey Jr. helped talk Chris Evans into being Steve Rogers

Contributed by
Mar 25, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT (Updated)

Chris Evans needed some convincing before picking up Captain America's shield, and some of that convincing came from Tony Stark himself.

All eyes are on Evans these days in the lead-up to the heavily hyped Captain America: The Winter Soldier, his third time out as Marvel's First Avenger. It's hard to see anyone but Evans in that star-spangled uniform now, commanding the Avengers in battle, but in a new profile at Variety, he revealed just how hard it was to get him to say yes to the role. When Marvel first offered him the job back in 2010, he said no "several times," in part because the contract at the time was just too big.

“The problem was initially, it was a nine-movie contract," Evans said. "And they said, if these movies take off and do very well, and my life changes and I don’t respond well, I don’t have the opportunity to say, listen, I need a f***ing break. That just scared me.”

Marvel went searching for other stars, then came back to Evans with a revised contract. He was still reluctant.

“They called back and they tweaked the deal,” he said. “It went from nine (films) to six. I said no again.

“My family was even going, ‘Are you sure you’re making the right decisions?’ It started to feel like maybe this is what I’m supposed to do.”

While Marvel Studios was still fighting to convince Evans to come aboard, he got a call from Robert Downey Jr., who talked about some of the benefits that joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe could offer him.

“I remember getting on the phone with him and strongly suggesting that he not shrink away from the offer,” Downey said. “I said, ‘Look man, you might not like the fact that you’ve played one of these guys before (in 'Fantastic Four'), but you know, the thing is this can afford you all sorts of other freedoms.' I also thought he was the perfect guy for the job.”

So, Evans eventually did say yes, and he's taking advantage of those "other freedoms" these days. He just finished his first feature film as a director, a low-budget romance called 1:30 Train, and he credits his time at Marvel with helping him get the movie off the ground.

“Without these (Marvel) movies, I wouldn’t be directing,” he said. “They gave me enough overseas recognition to greenlight a movie. And if I’m speaking extremely candidly, it’s going to continue to do that for as long as the Marvel contract runs.”

Evans made headlines recently when he talked about taking a break from acting when his Marvel contract runs out, but now he says it's likely less of a break and more of a retirement and transition into full-time directing.

“If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing,” he said. “I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.”

As for those contractual obligations, we already know that Marvel is working on Captain America 3, among other things, but Evans already seems to have his personal superhero timeline sorted out.

"We can do this out loud. (‘Avengers 2’) will shoot till August. I wouldn’t be surprised if for all of 2015, we didn’t do a movie," he said, then added: "I bet by 2017, I’ll be done.”

The full profile, which features talk of his training for The Winter Soldier, insights into the group dynamics of the Avengers cast and more, is well worth a read. Head over to Variety and check it out.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives in theaters April 4.

(Via Variety)