You want to know why Chris Evans is always going to be cool in my book? Because when I was on the set of The Losers in Puerto Rico last June, when it was incredibly hot and humid, Evans had the five online journalists in attendance come into his trailer to do his interview, as he had air conditioning and was willing to share it. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of on set interviews in some sketchy areas, and no other actor has ever opened his door like Chris Evans.
Anyway, during our extended interview with Evans, he talked about how he plays a computer expert named Jensen and if he’s anything like him, did he debate playing another comic book based character, 80’s movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, his career, Fantastic Four, and so much more. It’s a great interview so take a look:
Like we always do…you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. And if you haven’t seen the trailer for The Losers, you might want to watch it first:
*Note* This interview took place on September 6, 2009. That’s why we don’t discuss The First Avenger: Captain America
Chris Evans: How’s it going out there guys?
Evans: Nicer in here than out there, right?
So tell us a little about your character in this.
Evans: I play Jensen. Jensen is a…he’s the computer expert. He’s the hacker in the bunch. Kind of the, you know, he cracks the jokes and I guess provides the comic relief in the comic book and they kind of try to translate that into the script. We’ll see.
I have to ask, it’s sort a joke-around question, but is it in your contract that you’ll only do comic book movies right now?
Evans: I know, right? Isn’t it ridiculous? It really is ridiculous. I know. There’s been a string of them. It seems like that’s what everyone’s making, you know? There’s a surplus of them around Hollywood. They make great movies, you know?
Does that weigh into your decision at all? Any sort of hesitancy when you got this and you found out it was based on a graphic novel?
Evans: Not really. I mean, it’s such a broad category, you know what I mean? Yes, it’s a comic book movie but that’s like saying if you’ve done one drama you don’t want to do another drama but it’s such a different comic book. All the comic book movies I’ve done have been so radically different. They happen to all be, you can find them all in the comic book store but I think they’re all incredibly…they’re all different families.
With so many different ones what helps you or what makes you decide certain ones over others to choose?
Evans: It really has nothing to do with the comic book, really. It comes down to…it’s a movie. I look at as a movie. Whatever it comes from whether it comes from a novel, whether it comes from a previously made film; it’s about this movie. Who’s the director? Who’s the producer? Who’s the cast? That’s all that matters. If it came from a comic book, so be it. If it came from anything else, it doesn’t really matter to me.
It just seems like it’s almost a throw…from what I’m gathering on-set it seems like it’s almost a throwback to a fun 80’s movie.
Evans: Absolutely, yeah, yeah.
And can you talk about maybe some of your favorite 80’s films and how do you think it compares to some of them?
Evans: Sure. Well, that was kind of…that seems to be the tone that they’re going for especially with Joel Silver, you know? All the “Die Hard’s” and the “Lethal Weapons” and those movies were just they were great. They had action, but the character charisma–the character chemistry rather just was fantastic and it left room for jokes and laughs and it didn’t take itself too seriously.
Do you have any favorites from the 80’s?
Evans: Well I loved “Die Hard”. Bruce Willis was my hero for awhile. And I loved “Die Hard”. What else did I like? I mean, my favorite 80’s movie is probably weren’t action films to be honest. Do you want favorite action movies?
Whatever you want to talk about?
Evans: When was “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? That was 80’s wasn’t it?
Evans: I was huge fan of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
Of course can you talk a little bit about what scene you were doing today?
Evans: Sure. This is towards the end of the movie. I don’t want to give too much away. We’ve been captured by the man who set us up and we think we’re about the kick the can. And I don’t want to give too much away but I’ll say Zoe comes and saves the day and kind of gets us out of a hot situation.
All the characters have these very unique costumes. What’s your look?
Evans: Well, if you’ve seen the comic book, Jensen is pretty crazy. He usually wears very bright colors and like Hawaiian shirts and he has the bleach blonde hair and this ridiculous facial hair that I have and he’s definitely a little more wild. I don’t think we went as extreme as the comic book is but this is probably the most tame outfit I have. He’s usually in, you know, ridiculous reds and pinks and greens and oranges and things like that. It’s fun. It lends itself.
I asked you about this earlier, but I know that the guy who did the comic did that poster with all you guys when they announced the cast. Do you think he got you pretty well when you saw the version of you with the glasses in there?
Evans: Yeah, I think so. I didn’t see too much of a difference between that and the comic book. You know what I mean? I think they tried….he has such a specific look in the comic book. I think if you put anyone in the right sideburns, facial hair and Lennon glasses, you know, he’ll look like Jensen.
How much humor do you have with this character?
Evans: They try to give him a decent amount of jokes, you know? He’s the goofy one. He doesn’t take things too seriously. He’s the one that kind of loves life and he’s always looking for a joke so they give him a pretty decent amount.
You’re the computer hacker. Do you know a lot about computers in real life?
Evans: No, I can barely check my e-mail. It’s so funny doing fake computer acting, you know? There’s a couple scenes where I have to…it’s so funny. I know dick about computers, but I really have to…the props they give me it’s not just a simple laptop. It’s really hi-tech computer stuff. These, I don’t even know what they’re called, just kind of like hand-held screens with these little pencils and touch-screens and really advanced shit. I’m just clunking around like I know what I’m doing, but I think I pull it off.
Are there any sort of prep things you had to do with anyone? Someone that came in and showed you don’t do this or do that so you look like…
Evans: For computer stuff? Oh no, no, no.
So you look like you know what you’re doing?
Evans: No, no, no. It’s so quick. I mean most of those scenes are pretty….the stuff we wanted to look like we know what we’re doing was the military stuff. They had someone come in and we had military training for a few weeks. That’s the stuff that’s probably a little bit more in-depth in the movie and if you look like a rookie that won’t sell.
Which city are you enjoying more? Toronto or San Juan?
Evans: I love Toronto. Nothing against San Juan. I mean I’m not built from the heat, you know what I mean? I’m from Boston. I like…you and me buddy.
There we go.
Evans: You and I are the palest people on the island, man. I’ve been here for fucking 2 months and I look like this.
You’ve made it out without the burn though.
Evans: Oh no I get the burn. I get the burn. There’s a little burn on the nose right now. It’s covered up with makeup. Yeah, I’m out there with like SPF 90 everyday. I’m just not built to for the heat. I’m not built for the humidity. I love Toronto. I had a really good time up there so I’ll take the cold over the hot any day.
Well, I definitely want to do a follow up and say what was your experience like on “Scott Pilgrim”?
Evans: It was fantastic, man. You always say this and I want to say it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a movie, but it’s probably that’s it’s the most recent movie and it feels like it was the most fun. But if that’s an indicator so be it. It was fantastic. The only problem was that I only worked for 3 weeks. That movie was 5-6 months and it was just heart-breaking having to leave. I got to do…I was up there before they started shooting doing some physical training and stuff like that with the cast, and everyone was just so awesome. Just so nice, you know what I mean? It’s so nice working with…I know it sounds obvious and basic but just nice people. And they’re incredibly successful, phenomenally talented-everyone. Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman and Kieren and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. They’re all just amazing people and just the kindest, funniest most wonderful people to work with and they just wrapped. They just wrapped a couple weeks ago.
I know the guy, Brian O’Malley who did the books…
Evans: Another phenomenally nice man. A phenomenally nice man.
A while ago he and I did an interview about all the little references and you play Lucas Lee who is in a way a flip version of Jason Lee, who is a professional skateboarder.
Evans: Right, yeah.
Did you think about that? Do you know Jason at all?
Evans: No, I don’t know Jason but someone actually mentioned that. The thing about Jason is although they do have the similarities of skateboarding and acting, Jason-from the interviews I’ve seen-seems like a very modest, down to earth guy and he’s incredibly funny and incredibly likeable. Lucas Lee is kind of a guy you’d want to smack in the face. He’s a horrible actor. Jason Lee was hilarious. Jason Lee is a phenomenal actor. Lucas Lee is like the Steven Segal school of acting.
One of the things about the way how Edgar Wright makes movies is that he does these quick cuts and there’s all these little bits. Did you have to do a lot of that like turn on the skateboard 30 times and get all those kind of film things?
Evans: Yeah, well there’s a lot of quick cuts. It’s not necessarily quick cuts it’s that he just has the movie edited in his mind already. He knows exactly what he wants. He knows exactly what he needs. You could do one take and he can come up and say “Look I got what I needed. If you want another one you can have it but I’m good.” And you just trust him. I’ve never felt so secure with a director. He gets his days because, you know again, there’s no fat. He’s not working anything out in the day. He’s done his homework. He’s on-set like a machine and I’ve never seen producers give him so much…give a director so much freedom. They really let him do…they have so much confidence that he knows exactly what he wants and he does. And it’s funny you try and…the lines will be written in way that’s very informative and it definitely indicates a certain line reading and you try and say “well, I’ll try something outside-out of the box” or you give a suggestion and he’s like “Okay” and he’ll let you do it but then he always says “Well just try it the other way” and he’s always right. His direction is always spot-on. What he initially wanted is always the right thing. I feel completely safe in his hands. And actually I have a lot of confidence and faith in that movie. I really think it’s going to come out pretty cool.
Do you get much room for improv on this one?
Evans: Sometimes. Sometimes. Not as much as I have had in other movies. Joe and Akiva have been very involved-Joe Silver and Akiva Goldman– have been very involved in the script process and we did a lot of rehearsals with them and I think we got the script to a place that everyone was happy and agreed upon. And I think going off book a little bit, you know, you just want to say look we all agreed on a certain script. Let’s stick with that script and that’s fine. That’s fine. Sometimes that’s the way you make movies and that’s fine. I’m totally okay with that. Akiva and Joe know what they’re doing and I’m with that. And it’s okay. It’s actually…it actually exercises different muscles. Sometimes ad-libbing can almost be a little bit of a crutch and it can be something that could develop, could develop into a bad habit, I’m not saying that it is. Sometimes ad-libbing is the key to magic but sometimes when you have to secrete the words are sacred its’ very healthy.
In preparing for this role in “The Losers”, did you go back to the graphic novel? Was there anything you were able to find there that helps you with your character or was it simply from the script?
Evans: Sure, well you know they were very similar. A lot of scenes from the script were taken right out of the graphic novel so the hardest thing was you see a scene in the script that was from one of the comic books and you’d say “well okay. This is the tone I should have and this is the way it’s going to be shot” and that’s not necessarily the case. You’d think, dwell I have a complete idea of what this scene’s going to be based on the fact that I’ve kind of already seen it in comic book form almost as a storyboard. When you go out on the set it’d look much different or have a different tone or a different feel. You’d say “okay. I have to stop using the graphic novel as a reference. That was that. This is this. Let me get direction from my director and I’ll go from there.”
Did you find that’s almost a crutch in some ways doing that?
Evans: You know, it’s a starting point for certain scenes. You just have to ask. You just have to talk to Sylvain. Sylvain is, you know, I know there’s scenes in the movie-is like the comic book? And he could say yeah, it’s actually going to be…even the shot where you do this and the shots through the hand and that’s what this shot will be. So okay great. Or he could say no, forget the comic book completely and say you just tell me what you want and you’re the painter. I’m the paint. Tell me what you want.
Are you…obviously with a film like this which could lead to other sequels, is it for you as an actor are you a little nervous when you sign onto something that might be a multi-picture kind of thing? Or are you sort of like they’re only going to make it if it’s, you know…?
Evans: Well, that’s the problem. You think they’d only make it if it’s good. The problem is they only make it if it makes money and that’s good and making money are not synonymous. That’s why you avoid those multi-picture contracts. Sometimes you have to do it, you known, movies like “Fantastic Four”, those massive movies. They say, look if you don’t want to sign a multi-picture contract we’ll find somebody else. Movies like this you can negotiate. I think most actors would avoid trying to do multi-picture contracts just because you never want to have your arm twisted in any way. Even if it’s a fantastic movie, even if you can’t wait to make the sequel it’s just always better in any respect, in any aspect of life to not be forced to have to do something.
I wanted to do a follow up because I’ve always been curious about this. When you sign on for a multi-picture deal or for like a whatever it may be, is it sometimes where they’ll say okay for say “The Losers” like do you have to sign on for a 3 picture deal or what I’m curious about is can they get you to do another project sort of tying it in to like the film you’re doing even though it might not be related to that one.
Evans: Yeah, like it’ll be a studio deal so, you know if you had a 3-picture deal for “Fantastic Four” for example, let’s say they didn’t want to make another “Fantastic Four” Fox could say well, we got you for another movie. We can put you in any movie we want to put you in. And it’s more about locking you in at a price for each picture they say we’ll pay you this for number 1, this for number 2, this for number 3. So “Fantastic Four” let’s say they didn’t want to make a sequel, but for some reason one of the actors became quite famous off of it, Fox now has the advantage to take that actor and put them in another movie at a set price. That actor can’t say well now that I’m enormously famous I want $10 million. You could say well, we got you in a 3-picture deal and we got you locked in at this much cheaper price and you’ve got to do it. So it doesn’t always have to be…is this [inaudible] I don’t have a 3-picture deal so it doesn’t even matter. If they do though and “Losers” went away, they could put me in another movie at a set price.
Is that risky for you as an actor? Do you feel like that’s…?
Evans: To get locked into a 3-picture deal?
Evans: Well, you know like I said you lose control and the problem is let’s say you have a terrible experience on a film. Let’s say you don’t want to revisit the character. Let’s say you don’t like the new director they hired. Let’s say…there’s a million elements that could come into play where you’re just out of the driver’s seat. It’s not a bad thing. You’re working. The fact is, especially nowadays as an actor, you’re lucky to even be working. I know so many amazing actors who aren’t working because there’s not a lot of work. So, I guess it’s not the worst problem to have to be forced to go to work, but if you want to try and maintain creative integrity it’s just you lose that control.
I, of course have to ask you, Fox has gone on record now that they’re re-booting “Daredevil”. They going to re-boot “Fantastic Four”. Of course I have to ask you want are your thoughts on this?
Evans: I think it’s great. I’m sure it’ll be a great movie. They do that with a lot of movies. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. “Batman”, “Superman”, “Incredible Hulk”. Sometimes it’s a 10-year gap, sometimes it’s 5-years, sometimes it’s 20-years. I think there’s room to readjust the tone in “Fantastic Four” as it was for “Batman”. You know, “Batman” took on a very cartoony feel towards the end and even in the beginning. It was a lighter movie, even though it was Tim Burton. It was still a lighter film and the newer Batman’s have just been amazing, so I’m all for good filmmaking. If they can go make a good dark edgy “Fantastic Four” right on.
I have to ask a lot of people from what I gather from fandom and myself included a lot of people enjoy the cast. And that wasn’t the issue.
Evans: “Losers” or “Fantastic Four”?
Oh, for “Fantastic Four”.
Evans: Sure, sure.
Like the casting everyone was like oh that’s good times. They had an issue with sort of the story or the tone aiming for basically kids. Would you object to going back to doing “Fantastic Four” or are you sort of like I’ve done this and let’s have a new team do it?
Evans: I guess it would depend. I mean I’m never against revisiting, well I guess I should say not yet, I’m never against revisiting genres or character types. If I played a doctor in one movie I wouldn’t be against playing a doctor again if the director was the right director. I think at the end of the day you’ve got to work with the directors. I do what I do because I like making good movies. It’s fun to act but if you just loved acting alone you could sit in your room and act. You could act in a vacuum. You want to make good products. You want to make good films. I love movies and good movies come from good directors and like I said since there isn’t this massive surplus of films out there, if a good director offers you a chance to make a good movie, you take it even if you say well I just played a character like that. Who cares? You’re a great director. “Scott Pilgrim”, I played characters similar to that guy but no fucking way I’m going to say no to this guy. I’m doing your movie. So if “Fantastic Four” got rebooted and Christopher Nolan was going to direct it and said do you want to play Johnny Storm again, I’d be in those blue fucking tights.
Of course I have to ask, you worked with Edgar, so you like “Shawn” or “Hot Fuzz” more?
Evans: I’m going to say…well that’s a tough one. I liked “Shawn” for awhile. It was first experience with Edgar Wright and I loved it. I thought it was fantastic. The more I see “Hot Fuzz” the more I think it’s a great movie. They’re just brilliant movies. They’re so well thought out. The guy’s just a wizard when it comes to filmmaking.
That’s the thing about…I remember that when “Hot Fuzz” came out it was like they announced he was doing “Scott Pilgrim” right before it came out and everybody was like wait are they going to do all 7 boyfriends in one movie? How are they going to do that? But then you see “Hot Fuzz” and see how much shit he crams into that movie.
Evans: There’s nothing by accident. There’s nothing that you have to imagine in the post-period of filmmaking…a lot of things have to happen spontaneously. A lot of things don’t go as planned. If you have to cut and paste plot points, if you have to…sometimes you have to edit on the fly and re-think things as they happen. I can’t imagine any of that shit happens in Edgar’s…there’s no room for it. There has to be a plan from the beginning and it is executed perfectly and whatever ends up in the theatre is exactly what he had planned from day one. This is brilliant.
You hold directors in very high regard, would you ever want to try your hand at it?
Evans: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s…I have hard time sitting on-set keeping my mouth shut half the time. I just want to be in charge. I just want to take control. That’s the problem, I read scripts all day and every single script I read I’m like “this is great”. I see a great movie. I think this is an amazing movie and my agent will always be like “Chris, it’s a terrible script” You don’t want to do this movie.” “Are you sure? I think it’s great.” Yeah, I’m dying to. It’s a tricky thing to transition into. I didn’t go to any schooling for it. It takes a lot to have somebody trust you, so I do love acting but like I said earlier I love movies. I love movies during the day and as soon as if I can climb the ladder enough in the acting world maybe get someone to be stupid enough to trust me with a little movie-in a heartbeat.
What’s interesting is you’ve got Peter Burke, who wrote the script for this you know, and that’s a guy who started as an actor and then writing, producing and directing it. He’s a great filmmaker now.
Evans: Yeah, unbelievable. It’s amazing how many good actors are good filmmakers. There’s a lot of actors that you don’t even realize direct movies. You’re like “hey that guy directed that movie? It’s a fantastic film. He’s a great fucking director.”
Is there a certain type of role or script that you get more than all others that you’re kind of putting aside, you know, when you’re looking for something different? Is there something you feel like you…?
Evans: I don’t know. Not really.
…considered for more than other characters?
Evans: I don’t know. It’s so funny, my agent and I always joke about this. It’s so funny the climate or whatever the opinion is of me within the acting world, my agent said it’s so funny how hot and cold it gets. You know sometimes he’ll submit me for a comedy and they say well Chris Evans, does he do comedy? And he’ll say of course. But then submit me for a drama and they say does he do drama? And he says well yeah. He’s done like 5 of them. Not really, to answer your question in a very round about and vague way. Not really. It’s all across the board, you know? A lot of times I’m going into rooms with people really only knowing me from “Fantastic Four” and I don’t know if you can all that comedy. I don’t know what that is.
Is there a dream role?
Evans: Not a dream role. There’s dream directors because again at the end of the day the role…you could have the greatest script, you could have the greatest role, you could have the greatest cast, it doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have a good director. I’ve seen amazing scripts that I was like this is going to murder at the Oscars come out and be a dud. And I’ve seen scripts that were very, very average and mediocre come out and be sleeper hits because it begins and ends with the director.
It might be a little early but are you already thinking about like a next project or is it also affecting you because Hollywood has slowed down? There’s a lot less movies being made.
Evans: Yeah, there are. You know, you never want to…I think you’re only allowed so many mistakes and perception goes a long way in this town. It funny, you could…I don’t know if Hollywood always does their homework. I think the public does their homework and I think within Hollywood if you’ve booked a classy role, I think it’s rare that people actually go out and see those movies. They just hear the name; they hear the director and they’ve got to get that guy. You could be brilliant in “Final Destination 7” but you’re in “Final Destination” no thank you. But you could be fucking amazing but it doesn’t matter. Or you could stink up the joint in a Woody Allen film and you’re going to have work. So unfortunately I’ve had a few movies that have just not been successful and perception, like I said, is a current seed that you need, so I’m just watching my step right now. I’m in no hurry. I think when I first started making….when the ball started rolling and I actually was in a world where I could make movies continuously I think you’re just in a hurry to make movies. You’re just excited that it’s even happening. You just want to make movies, but then you make a few bad ones and you see how they can go awry and how man, this is just a giant collaboration and it’s not easy to make a good movie. There’s a lot of creative people coming together dealing in a world of intangibles and semantics and it’s not easy. So now I just want to make good movies and there’s a lot of pieces of the puzzle that have to fit together in order for that to happen. So I’m in no rush and I’m just trying to find the next right one.
To follow up on what you were saying, are there choices that you’ve made that you maybe in hindsight read and what do you learn from that?
Evans: I’m not going to…I’ve probably already said too much. I would never want to bash any specific movie that I’ve been in. Yeah, of course. It’s always a learning process. Every movie you make you learn a little bit more about how you need to approach each set. How you need to approach your meetings, you know, when you sit down with someone to talk about a project, what questions need to be asked? And, you know, the importance of the different people on-set. For example I used to think what does a producer really do? But now you realize well the producer does a fuck load. So, you know, yeah yeah it’s all a learning process and I’m still learning. By no means am I some salty vet. I’m still figuring this shit out as I go.
Evans: Thanks guys.
You’re from Boston. Are you enjoying the fact that there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts in Puerto Rico?
Evans: (laughter) Yeah, I know. I saw it. Right across the street. It’s hilarious.
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