American actor Chris Evans has starred in his share of great films (Sunshine, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Snowpiercer, Knives Out) – but his name is of course synonymous with one role in particular: Steve Rogers/Captain America, one of the most important players of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He may have retired as Cap with Avengers: Endgame, but this certainly doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of him. In any case, there’s always been way more to Chris Evans than just Captain America, as we’ll discuss ahead…
20. He turned down the Captain America role – twice
It’s easy to forget that Evans had a very humble beginning in the MCU with 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. With box office takings of just under $371 million, it is to date the second lowest-grossing Marvel Studios movie, after The Incredible Hulk. Since then, however, Cap has gone on to become one of the best-loved Avengers heroes, and made Evans one of the most famous movie stars on Earth.
If Evans had stuck to his guns, it might never have happened – at first, the actor said no to playing Steve Rogers. In fact, Evans said no twice. In March 2019, Evans explained why to The Hollywood Reporter: “Getting the [Captain America] offer felt to me like the epitome of temptation. The ultimate job offer, on the biggest scale. I’m supposed to say no to this thing.” Evans, who was suffering from panic attacks and social anxiety when the Cap offer came around, explained: “I’d now woken up the day after saying no and felt good, twice.”
19. It was Robert Downey Jr who convinced Evans to take the part
At first, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige didn’t want Evans for Steve Rogers, as he struggled to get past Evans’ cocky portrayal of the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies. Other actors, including Ryan Phillippe and John Krasinski, were under serious consideration for the role. As time went on, however, Feige came to realise that Evans was the perfect candidate, and aimed to get him on board at all costs.
After Evans turned Marvel’s first two offers down, Feige had help, from none other than Iron Man himself. It was a persuasive call from Robert Downey Jr that ultimately convinced a sceptical Evans to take on Steve Rogers. Downey believes wholeheartedly that he made the right choice, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2019 that Evans was “the critical leg” in making the MCU the “most successful creative relay race in the history of cinema”.
18. Evans’ on-set Marvel nickname is Captain Little A*s
Evans’ commitment to Marvel – once he signed up – was obvious from Captain America’s very first appearance. We’re talking about Evans’ Steve Rogers physique, of course, a build so legendary it even gave Evans his on-set Marvel nickname. Anthony Mackie entered the MCU with 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, playing Sam Wilson, aka Falcon.
On the set, he and Evans immediately took to jibing one another, with Mackie – envious of Evans’ workout results – nicknaming Evans ‘Captain Little A*s’, owing to the actor’s toned 6-foot frame. Evans got his own back, giving Mackie – who by his own admission had not seen the same kind of results from his own workout regime – the nickname ‘Falcon Big Butt’. This may have had a part to play in the memorable scene in Avengers: Endgame in which Cap is declared to have “America’s a*s.”
17. He’s really passionate about tap dancing
Would you have ever guessed that the man recognised worldwide as Captain America is also a major tap dancing enthusiast? If you don’t believe us, just check out this compilation clip of a superbly drunk Evans’ secret being spilled at the Age of Ultron premiere, forcing him to admit he grew up tap dancing, before he’s finally pressured to do a little soft shoe on Ellen.
It’s true – Evans has been dancing tap since he was a kid, with his mother a former dancer who installed a tap floor in the basement of the Evans household. Since wrapping up his Marvel career, Evans has returned to tap, and has been taking tap lessons twice a week, something that he says helps to keep him stress-free: “It makes me feel like I’m a part of the music”. Evans doesn’t just enjoy tap dancing – he believes in the art form wholeheartedly, telling the Boston Globe in 2018 that he thinks it’s due to make a comeback: “Tap is waiting to have its day”.
16. His brother is a soap actor
Though he’s far and away the biggest celeb in the pack, Chris Evans isn’t the only one in the Evans family who’s found themselves in the spotlight. Chris’ younger brother, Scott, 35, has also quietly made a name for himself as an actor. Despite appearances in films including The Lovely Bones and the 2015 action movie Close Range, Scott has mainly stuck to television.
His most high-profile role to date happened from 2008 to 2010, when Scott had a regular role as police officer Oliver Fish on the popular soap One Life to Live. Scott also picked up a recurring role on the acclaimed Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie. Amusingly, his most recent credit is as ‘Chris Evans Hat Pack Guy’ in an episode of comedy Liza on Demand.
15. His uncle is a big cheese in US politics
Chris and Scott might have more name recognition, but their Uncle Mike has arguably been the most influential member of the family. Mike Capuano, brother to Chris and Scott’s mum, Lisa, has been a big cheese in Massachusetts politics for the past three decades. For 20 years, from 1999 to 2019, Capuano served in the US House of Representatives for Massachusetts’ 7th and 8th districts.
Capuano took the role having served as the Mayor of Somerville for the previous nine years. Unfortunately for Capuano, he lost his role in Congress in the 2018 election to Ayanna Pressley. He now teaches at Boston University on the urban development of 21st century cities.
Thank you to my family, including my nephew @chrisevans, for your support. Together, we'll keep fighting to create more opportunities for everyone, and I won't stop until the playing field is level for all. #TeamCappic.twitter.com/jCEewCZEEQ
— Mike Capuano (@mikecapuano) May 25, 2018
14. Evans is a Buddhist
Chris Evans was born in the Massachusetts capital and raised in the nearby town of Sudbury, in a family of Irish and Italian descent. This being the case, it’s perhaps no surprise to hear that Evans grew up in a Catholic household. The Evanses were never devout practitioners, however: “It wasn’t forced upon me and we didn’t go to church every week.”
Nowadays, Evans subscribes to a different kind of belief system, telling Hindustan Times in 2012 that he started taking an interest in Eastern philosophy as a teenager. “There was a whole religion that felt the way I was feeling. That’s when I thought, ‘Wow, I think I’m a Buddhist.'” Evans went on to explain that he “spent three weeks in Rishikesh in 2005 or 2006 at a Buddhist retreat” and that he attends a Buddhism class in LA.
13. His first gig was acting in an educational video at 15
Evans might have only just hit his 40s, but his acting career has already been going for well over 25 years. Raised by a mother who was the artistic director of the Concord Youth Theater, Evans unsurprisingly got a taste for performing early. Putting most actors to shame, Evans got his first professional gig aged just 15, albeit one that involved less acting and more teaching.
1997’s Biodiversity: Wild About Life!, the first credit on Evans’ acting CV, is an educational video about the environment. In the short, which you can see above, Evans and three other high school teens discuss biodiversity. Evans, looking a bit like Steve Rogers before he got injected with the super-soldier serum, naturally plays the happy-go-lucky one of the group.
12. His second gig was as a model for a board game
Unfortunately for Evans, Biodiversity: Wild About Life! didn’t result in his immediate Hollywood fame and fortune. After the educational video, Evans went looking for his next gig – and it would turn out to involve even less acting than the last one. In 1999, Evans modelled for Mystery Date, a board game aimed at young teenage girls made by Hasbro.
The game, which famously featured a talking electronic phone, sees players compete to see who gets the dreamboat and who gets the dud. 17-year-old Evans was one of those chosen to depict one of the non-dud characters, an apparent surfer dude named Tyler. Anyone looking to track down the 1999 edition of Mystery Date will know it when they see it: Evans is right there on the box, wielding a very 90s-looking mobile phone.
11. He has regular therapy to control crippling anxiety
It’s difficult to imagine a profession less suited to somebody who suffers from anxiety than Hollywood actor. Before he took on Captain America, however, Evans found himself in a very dark place emotionally, something which the actor has been vocal about. Evans told Rolling Stone that the press tours for his films around the time of Captain America: The First Avenger had begun to make him nervous, describing the red carpet experience as akin to “walking on hot coals”.
As soon as Evans accepted the role of Steve Rogers, he booked himself into therapy for the first time. He now goes as often as he can, something which Robert Downey Jr says has changed Evans’ life. “Nobody laughs more than him”, said Downey. “I’ve also seen him, over the last 10 years, go from being someone who had laughably real social anxiety to someone who has grown more and more comfortable in their own skin.”
10. He’s ‘inappropriately’ obsessed with Disney
Chris Evans doesn’t just work for Disney, as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – since he was a child, the actor has had what he calls an “inappropriate love” for the brand. The 2019 Hollywood Reporter profile revealed that Evans had, as a kid, “spent hours drawing alone in his room, dreaming of being a Disney animator”. The Disney obsession didn’t stop with childhood, though: even as a grown man, Evans is still an obsessive fan of the House of Mouse.
In 2015, Evans admitted that he and his family still take trips together to Disneyland, with the whole family counting down the days until the next visit over the group chat. Even once the acting career took off, in his worst moments of anxiety, Evans still wondered whether he should quit performing and move into animation full-time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In case you’re wondering: his favourite Disney movie is Robin Hood. And his favourite Disney princess? “Probably Belle or Megara”.
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) June 19, 2021
9. He knows all the words to the songs from The Little Mermaid
In a 2011 GQ profile, Evans’ mother admitted that Evans was, even as a big Hollywood player, still “kind of a big dork.” It’s comforting to know that even someone who’s enjoyed such huge professional success as Evans can still be put in his place by a matriarch. The reason for his mother’s slightly cruel assessment? “At 30 he still knows all the words to songs from The Little Mermaid.”
She wasn’t exaggerating: Evans’ Disney obsession is so real, he can sing along to the Mouse House’s 1989 animated classic word for word. When the subject later came up on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Evans admitted it wasn’t just The Little Mermaid, either. Naming Aladdin as another Disney whose lyrics he’d memorised, Evans said: “To be fair, there’s like five movies you could have named”.
8. He is (or was) a big weed enthusiast
It’s not difficult to confuse all-round good-guy Chris Evans with his big screen good-guy Marvel counterpart. Evans, like Steve Rogers, has cultivated an image of the clean-cut all-American so successfully, you couldn’t imagine the actor would consider even going near a J. But this isn’t true at all, as evidenced in a 2011 conversation with Coming Soon, in which Evans tried to get the interviewer to toke up with him halfway through the interview (“You never smoked weed?… Let’s smoke some weed bro!”).
There’s also the excellent 2015 article Nightclub Employees Tell Their Best Celebrity Stories from Thrillist, in which an NYC promoter vouched for Evans’ apparently superb rolling skills. However, in more recent times Evans says he has mostly given up his marijuana habit. He recently told the Hollywood Reporter: “I’ve chilled out on weed. I used to love it, but now I think it’s the one thing that gets in my way. It zaps your motivation.”
7. He’s getting into politics
With his uncle Mike Capuano a former congressman, it seems the apple hasn’t fall far from the tree if Evans’ new line of work is anything to go by. An outspoken opponent of former President Donald Trump (who he once referred to as “an absolute dumb s**t”), Evans has lately been spotted hanging around Washington, DC. Evans isn’t making a run for political office – yet – but he has recently co-founded a political website, A Starting Point, with the aim of bringing both sides of the debate together.
Already, Evans has interviews in the can for A Starting Point, having conducted conversations with both Democratic and Republican senators and representatives. Evans has said that the website’s aim is “to create informed, responsible and empathetic citizens.” The actor explains, “I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t speak up. Especially for fear of some monetary repercussion or career damage – that just feels really gross to me.”
6. He refers to his family as the “f***in’ Von Trapps”
Evans took after mother Lisa more than he ever did dentist father G Robert Evans, at least where theatrics were concerned. It wasn’t just Evans who took after Lisa when it came to the theatrical bug, though: according to Chris, all the Evans siblings grew up performing. Chris, Scott and their sisters Carly and Shanna all did musical theatre as children, with Evans recently referring to the Evans family as the “f***in’ Von Trapps, man” and his younger self as a “dork”.
Though Evans was the star performer – he went to acting camp and played a lead role in a stage production of Bye Bye Birdie – the Evans children all did their part. The family even used to put on performances for visiting relatives: “We all thought it was so normal to be singing in front of my cousins and aunts and uncles at Christmas.” Evans has described the memory as “mortifying”, explaining he was at the time already “like 12, 13. I’m not, like, 6. I’m old enough to know better.”
- Credit: Gage Skidmore
5. His dream job is to star in a musical
For many people, seeing Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables and The Greatest Showman came as a big surprise. Here was the man best known for playing volatile macho Wolverine, performing in musicals like he was born to do it. Chris Evans, similarly, wouldn’t seem the type to make a musical judging by the many action hero roles he’s played. And yet…
Clearly wanting to put that love of Disney and childhood spent in musical theatre to use, Evans says his ideal job – now Marvel is in the rearview mirror – would be to star in a musical. Evans told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019: “I want to do a musical so badly, man. Someone told me they’re [remaking] Little Shop of Horrors and I was like, ‘Oh, can I be down? Please? Can I be the dentist?'” Who knows, now he has some space in his schedule, maybe Evans will finally get his wish – though there’s one film he definitely won’t be starring in…
4. He got rejected from Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake for being too old
In Hollywood terms, 38-year-old Chris Evans is still only a whippersnapper (consider that Liam Neeson, almost 30 years Evans’ senior, is still leading action movies at the age of 67). Alas, in terms of ‘playing one of the teenagers in West Side Story’, the Captain America star is by now definitely a little over the hill. Evans recently admitted that he had pursued a role in the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story.
Unfortunately for Evans, he will not feature in West Side Story 2020 in any capacity, as no suitable role could be found for him. “That’s one of my favourite musicals. I did it when I was in high school. And obviously [Spielberg]’s doing it now, and I called my team and they were like, Chris – maybe Krupke. You can’t. You’re too old.” Spielberg instead cast 50-year-old Brian d’Arcy James as Officer Krupke, whilst Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) takes the role of male lead Tony.
3. He caused controversy by calling Black Widow “a complete wh*re”
Having gone through a personal transformation in recent years, Chris Evans is pretty woke these days. His evolution has been partly credited to on-again, off-again ex-girlfriend Jenny Slate, whom Evans dated from 2016 to 2018. When it comes to his feminist credentials, Evans is strong – he recently spoke of reading The Mother of All Questions, a collection of essays on patriarchy, owing to his desire “to understand that you don’t understand.” It’s a contrast to four years ago, when Evans – along with Avengers co-star Jeremy Renner – came in for criticism for using derogatory language towards Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.
In an interview for Age of Ultron, Renner and Evans were asked about Natasha’s tendency to strike up close relationships with multiple male Avengers. Responding to the implication that Natasha had ‘chosen’ Bruce Banner over Clint or Steve, Renner called her “a slut”, which prompted Evans to laugh and refer to Natasha as “a complete whore.” After an online backlash that saw both actors called out for their remarks, Evans and Renner both quickly apologised.
2. The first thing he did when he lost his virginity was run home and tell his mum
For most of us, the idea that a parent would discover that we’ve recently lost our virginity would be utterly mortifying. Not so for Chris Evans, who in 2017 told Seth Meyers that the first thing he did after losing his virginity was run home to tell his mother, Lisa. Telling Meyers he and his mum had always been close, Evans explained: “My whole family is just very open with a lot of things.”
On the admission of virginity confession, Evans said: “I raced home and I said ‘I did it! I don’t know what I was doing, but I think I did it.'” Evans said his mother was just happy to know her son was willing to share. “I think as a parent you just want to have honesty. One of the best things my parents both achieved, somehow they felt like my friends…when big things happen you wanted to share it with them.”
1. He’s made more comic book movies than any other actor
As of 2019, Chris Evans has starred in 16 different comic book movies (17 if you count his voice role in 2007’s TMNT; 18 if you count the 2009 superhero movie Push). Stan Lee may have racked up more cameos, but as leads go, this is more than any other actor. Though 11 of these movies are appearances in the MCU, Evans has played several other comic book characters aside from Steve Rogers.
Before he was Captain America, Evans played another Stan Lee hero, Johnny Storm, in two Fantastic Four movies. He also starred in the graphic novel adaptations The Losers and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, both in 2010. After joining the Marvel-verse, Evans managed to squeeze in one more comic book movie: 2013’s Snowpiercer, based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.