Last June, when Avengers: Age of Ultron was filming outside London, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. While most of what we saw is still under embargo, Marvel/Disney is letting us post some of our on-set interviews. I’ve already shared what Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth had to say, and today I get to reveal what we learned from Chris Evans.
During a break in filming, I got to participate in an extended group interview with Evans. He talked about if Cap is still reeling from the events of The Winter Solider, how Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) has a way of getting in your head, Cap’s relationship with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), what it was like working with Joss Whedon on the sequel, if the script changed on set, if his fighting style continues to evolve, Phase 3, working with Ultron (James Spader), and so much more. It’s a great interview that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Finally, click here you’d like to listen to the audio of this interview. Otherwise the full transcript is below. Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1st. Like you didn’t know.
Question: How much is Cap reeling from the events of the Winter Solider when we meet him here?
CHRIS EVANS: You know, he’s adjusting. The team doesn’t have anyone to report to now. There’s no more S.H.I.E.L.D. so we’re all kind of depending upon one another, but that gives him an opportunity to kind of take more of a leadership role I suppose. Since there’s no one else giving him orders, he doesn’t have to question the chain of command or anyone’s motives, but it does mean he needs to rely on his team a lot more so it’s just kind of added a little bit more tension to the actual dynamic of the Avengers. But, with these movies it’s hard to kind of dive too deeply into any one character’s plotline, you know, what I mean?
That’s just the nature of how these moves are gonna have to work. Do your movie and then you come to Avengers and we all gotta address a group conflict and then go back to your conflict. There’s too many plots, too many characters to try and spend too much time with your own individual conflict, you know.
At the end of the Winter Solider you are starting your own mission? When you enter into this film do we see you on that mission?
EVANS: I can’t tell you that.
How has the group dynamic evolved and how are the relationships developing?
EVANS: I don’t think I can tell you that either. These are tough to give because you don’t wanna give too many plot points away. I can see headlines now and then I get a little talking to.
We are embargoed for quite awhile so you can tell us everything.
EVANS: Oh you are! Okay… Everyone has their own personal — Scarlet Which has a way of getting in your head. That’s her ability so each one is kind of confronted with their own personal issues and demons and that kind of creates personal struggles as well as conflicts for the team. So, I don’t wanna dive too deeply into each person’s individual conflict but it’s tense.
This is your fourth film playing Captain America. How comfortable are you with the character and with what ownership have you taken with who this Captain America is?
EVANS: Very comfortable. You know, the first movie you’re terrified. The second one you’re just, intimidated because there’s so many great people but by Winter Soldier is when you really start kind of hitting your stride and feeling like you’re making some core progress with the character and you get a little more comfortable speaking up when you have opinions. And the Russos are so great and I love that movie and it all just kind of worked out in terms of the evolution of my personal connection with character. So at this point I’m feeling really good and, like I said, it’s hard to give too much individual attention to your own plotline in a movie like this. I’m very excited for [Captain America: Civil War].
Is there carry-over between the relationship that you and Scarlet Johnasson have in Winter Solider, which is so funny and casual?
EVANS: They do really good stuff with Scarlet in this one with her personal stories so the bond is definitely there, but we established it. We’re not gonna keep eating on that one. It’s built. It’s there. It’s solid. The foundation is there. So this movie begins with kind of a connection between the two of us but she has her own arc in this movie.
Do we get the impression in this movie that they have gotten together in between the two movies at all or do the Avengers only come together for these big events that they have to be brought together?
EVANS: Meaning does it seem like the main Avengers characters have had like other battles in between?
Like have they done anything in between the first Avengers movie and this one?
EVANS: No, they do a good job ‘cause the movie’s only a couple of hours long. You got a lot of people to fit in there so we really hit the ground running with this movie. The opening scene is boom so we don’t wanna be like, “What have you been up to?” [laughs] Then you kind of pepper in dialogue like “man, those past couple of years have been crazy haven’t they?” That’s in no way a cheat. You don’t wanna waste your time having reunion moments. You just wanna get these guys fighting together. Everything that Marvel does, it’s a chess move. Nothing is by accident. Everything is calculated so sometimes there are things that even I find out and I’m like, “That’s why you did that?” You guys. You sons of bitches.
Was there anything you talked to Joss about before you started on this that you wanted to make sure was included or involved?
EVANS: You know, in terms of the character Joss got it right with the first Captain America and not only that he’s a fanboy, you know? He’s loved comic books so it’s not like you’re talking to someone who might not have a handle of what audiences want, or who this character is at his core. The only thing I talked to him about was his ability consistency. With the second Captain America we really pushed the envelope in terms of what this guy is capable of which I was excited to see. Because in the first Captain America he’s just strong. In Avengers it was still, in my opinion, a little bit punch, punch, kick, kick.
You just can’t be Jason Bourne. We gotta see this guy do stuff that’s like yeah, he deserves a spot on this squad. You know, in [Winter Soldier] he’s pinballing off of jets and doing unbelievable things. I don’t wanna take a step back so we gotta make sure that he’s continuing training. His fight style needs to advance a little bit. I don’t wanna go full Bruce Lee, but there needs to be more than just haymakers and fun kicks. There needs to be a consistent display of strength. Utilize your environment in a way that’s like, “that’s right he can pick up a motorcycle with one hand…”
Let’s, let’s not forget that I can get punched by a human and get knocked down. It just doesn’t make sense to me. So that’s the only thing and that’s a tough thing to try to remember. You know, even in Avengers, you know, I punched a heavy bag across a room. If I hit a person he’s not getting back up. It’s just the way it’s gonna go, so we can’t do this any other way. That’s it. Just trying to keep your finger on that pulse and it’s tricky with all these characters.
What Cap’s role in bringing these guys back together again?
EVANS: Well it’s not that he’s, he’s not like, you know, kind of, you know, sound of the alarm. It’s, it’s kind of out of necessity. You know, once S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, fell this affected everybody and I don’t know how much I could or even should say. but there is something that affects all of us that requires us all to kind of come back together and, and fight as a unit. Cap’s just more than willing to take a leadership role. You know, he’s been in wars. He understands the dynamic of a team. He’s not doing it out of arrogance or ego. He’s doing it out of necessity and functionality.
Who’s your favorite Avengers other than yourself now that you’re on your second adventure together?
EVANS: Who’s my favorite Avenger? That’s so tough. I wouldn’t — I’d put myself kind of at the bottom of the list honestly. As a man, as a people I’d take Steve Rogers. As an avenger, come on I don’t know. I really think Thor is pretty cool. I really like Iron Man just ‘cause, you know, I can’t get enough of Downey. Every single line he gives is so good. It’s really crazy watching him work if you ever get a chance. You’re just like god, I can see why this guy gave birth to this — we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for Downey and what he did with the first Iron Man.
Ruffalo. You know, everything the guy does is just so interesting and unique. Such a good choice. You know, I’d be the first to admit. If you had asked me who’s gonna play the next Hulk I don’t know if he would have been in a lot of people’s radar and yet I can’t picture anybody else now but him. He’s perfect. I don’t know. Everyone’s so great. Paul Bettany, man. We just had our first scene with him. He’s so good. He’s so good. He’s so good. He is. You’re gonna love him. He’s gonna be amazing.
EVANS: It’s gotta be tough coming in, you know, being the new kid in the playground. People have done these movies as a group and in their individual franchises, coming in and trying to not mess with the formula. But everyone’s so talented and professional. I don’t know what you wanna call it but it just feels right, you know, when we’re were sitting there yesterday having a scene with Paul, with Aaron, with Lizzy and it’s like yeah, this is — yeah, you guys weren’t in the first Avengers? No, shit, you weren’t.
It just feels, it just feels right. It feels normal and they’re so cool and so good and every couple of days Joss will show a little, you know, clips of what these abilities are gonna look like and how Lizzy’s gonna see things. Like man, it’s not because Cap’s not really strong [laughter]. It’s just they’re gonna do so many cool things and everyone is just, you know, I’ve never been a part of a movie where everyone just gets along so well, so consistently and even when you add new people in the dynamic doesn’t shift at all. I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s working but I’m just happy to be a part of it.
Is there a sense that like you’re back on set with this team and this director that you’ve done this before? Do you feel a little more confident?
EVANS: Yeah, a little bit. You know, in a weird way it feels like you never really left. It’s very much, you know, when it’s your movie there’s this kind of weight and pressure and involvement you’re in. Every single day you’re in every single scene and it’s, uh, it’s a lot. This movie is, it’s just fun. It’s like summer camp or something. There’s still a responsibility and everyone is still wildly committed and professional about it but there is something about just kind of we’re in this together, we’re all locking in arms, you know, and we’re all team. In sync. It feels a lot safer in a way.
Has there been a lot of script changes since you got on set?
EVANS: Oh, yeah. Oh my god, Joss. Like before you shoot he’s like here’s nine new pages. Joss, all right, okay? I mean it’s not major plot changes but just sometimes dialogue shifts. I don’t know whether it’s that there are a lot of voices and opinions kind of coming down about individual pieces of dialogue, or if Joss just wakes up with a brain that can’t sit still and has a better idea and a better exchange, but everything is good. Nothing is bad. It never gets worse. The guy just leaks clever repertoire. And even on the day and in the moment he can be, “I don’t know if I like this.” And he’ll think for thirty seconds and come up with some brilliant exchange. God, this guy’s just good. This guy’s good at this. So there are enormous amounts of changes but nothing that really, you know, shakes the earth.
You mentioned how has your fighting style has evolved. How has it evolved in this film?
EVANS: Well, I mean again we’re just trying to — the, the foes are a bit more of a challenge so in a way he’s not as effective as I’d like him to be. You know, you have to measure your enemy’s ability based on his capacity to win and sometimes Cap has to take that one to the chin. Be the one who gets thrown around a little bit ‘cause, you know, these Ultrons are pretty powerful. So how has his fighting style evolved? It’s not like incorporating like Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do or anything like that. I’m trying to incorporate a lot more reflexes, you know, what I mean?
I’d love to get some scene where you kind of understand it’s not just speed and ability. It’s the fact that he can move. Even if his hands were bound you couldn’t get a finger on him. You know, he can still react incredibly fast so we’re trying to incorporate that, but on the same token we’re also trying to show what this foe can do. It’s just a matter of maintaining the speed and strength and agility and all that stuff.
Heading into Phase 3, do you feel like this launches the characters into some really interesting places by the end of this film. Do you have a sense of where you’re going?
EVANS: Oh, sure. I mean we’re just — even if you have to look contractually, how we’re all kind of set up. If, if they want kind of to have a clean break, you know, towards the end we’re, we’re approaching the final act so you can really kind of pull out all the stops. So yeah, by the end of this movie everyone does have a very interesting trajectory and it’s not so much about like the next six films. They’re gonna pull out all the stops.
Obviously a big part of this film is going to be Ultron. I’m curious if you can talk a bit about what he presents as a villain to the group and also what’s it like working with Spader?
EVANS: Spader. God, Spader. So good. Well, I mean this thing about Joss. It’s not just about the power of the villain or his shiny light or his ability. It’s kind of the mentality of the villain. It’s really, Joss. He’s a very clever writer so it’s really about you guys are — can I say whatever the hell I wanna say? Am I already in deep shit?
No, you’re good.
EVANS: Don’t fuck me on this, guys.
In general terms, you can talk about Ultron.
EVANS: There’s, you know, there’s an ideology behind Ultron that makes him more unique that just a bad guy. He doesn’t wanna just kill the Avengers. He doesn’t wanna just destroy the world. He has these monologues and these beautiful speeches that kind of embody a certain mentality about what’s wrong with humanity. It represents something deeper than just “I’m evil and I don’t like the good guys.” So it’s hopefully things like that. That’s what makes you care a little bit more about the story than just, “I’m an evil bad guy.”
Look at what [Tom] Hiddleston did with Loki. He made a real character. He made a real conflict and Loki could have a movie that has something to do with superheroes. It would just be a really interesting character study; like this guy needs a therapist. But it’s deep and that’s what makes you give a shit. I think that’s what we’re gonna have with Ultron.
You talked about the leadership role that Cap plays in the Avengers now. How does that go with Thor and Hulk and Tony Stark? I’m sure they would not want anyone else to be a leader.
EVANS: Well, certain people are moving on into different things. And things that we’ve each seen in ourselves in this movie; each one of our hurdles, our battles, our struggles, our shortcomings, our fears. These are the things that have kind of motivated the catalyst for change and evolution. So, for someone like Tony, maybe he may not want to be anything but the front man. He has to kind of face that there are people like Thor.
Thor’s a soldier. I mean he’s just a soldier in another world. So, there’s an understanding between those two men — Captain and Thor — and same with Hawkeye. I mean these guys have all been in battle so I think for the most part, there aren’t as many conflicting egos in terms of who’s leading this crew? It’s more personal conflicts and more personal questions about who they are as people and what they’re looking for and what makes sense and what’s right and wrong. It’s not so much about who’s the front man.
One of Cap’s arcs was just about being comfortable, man out of time in a very increasingly complicated world. It seems like in this movie it’s going to get even more complicated. He has a trust issue maybe after the last film. Villains and heroes are gonna cross paths. They are gonna trade sides throughout this movie. Can you talk about his response to that? What are his demons?
EVANS: Well, there are more relationships in this movie, personal relationships, Cap has to witness and I think that does kind of make him question his own purpose in terms of, this is a guy that wanted the family, the wife and kids and stability and normalcy. He wants to serve his country, but what he really wanted in life was a normal life. Then he went into the ice and things changed. So it’s a matter of where is home? You know, he’s always been a little lost and even in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier] it’s very much about well, what do I want? What am I supposed to be doing? What completes me? And in this one he kind of has to watch some of those relationships close and question, “Is that the end game?” Is that what he’s fighting for?
There has been a visual evolution obviously ongoing with the Cap suits and how he looks. But just for you as a performer. How much input do you have in terms of what you want to do physically and how much give and take there is?
EVANS: I didn’t get enough input on this I tell you that. I really like that stealth suit from [Winter Soldier], the navy blue one in the opening. That was my favorite one. It was so cool and it moved well and I could breathe. It was just great. They keep changing this shit.
In the comic books, the roster is always changing. Are we gonna see a shake up? In this we have Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, in the comics, like in the 60s Cap, all the rest of the guys left and they became the Avengers. Is that how it’s going to be at the end of this movie?
EVANS: I don’t know how to answer that one without revealing too much. It’s Marvel. They’re never gonna do the same thing, you know what I mean? They’re always gonna try and make events and surprise and give audiences what’s unexpected.
Given that your suit now has the Avengers “A” on the side of it, would you say that the team become more of a formal organization? Now that you have outfits like that that are clearly Avengers?
EVANS: Certainly. I mean that’s the thing. The first Avengers, it’s growing pains. It’s getting to know each other, finding trust, understanding our roles and developing allegiance. This time, we’re a unit. We hit the ground running in this movie and since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. we’re forced to depend on one another, so right from the jump in this movie there’s a very clear understanding this is a team and that we operate as a team. We’re gonna win as a team and we’re gonna lose as a team. That’s kind of the undercurrent. There’s no question about each other’s loyalty to one another. It’s just a matter of how to go about as a team jumping these hurdles.