Actor Chris Evans currently sports short dark hair, a promising beard and a Zen-like state of mind. Nothing like the buffed-up look he fashioned onscreen at the premiere of his upcoming biggie, The Avengers, which took place at the El Capitan theatre in LA on Wednesday. “I am a hat, beard, sunglasses kind of guy, but little kids are so good. They’ll just spot you in a crowd… that’s Captain America!” jokes Evans, who reprises his part as the superhero in Joss Whedon’s multi-cast film this April 27.
Most Hollywood actors have little to say when asked about India. In Evans’s case, there was no ‘I like Bollywood for its song and dance’ or ‘I’m coming to the country to see the Taj Mahal soon’ kind of answer. He knows absolutely nothing about the Hindi film industry. But during the course of the conversation, it became evident that he seemed to have a more spiritual connection in place. “I spent three weeks in Rishikesh in 2005 or 2006 at a Buddhist retreat. I attend a Buddhism class here in LA and the woman who teaches had trained there. So we all went and stayed in this little village for about three weeks, hiked the Himalayas, camped on the banks of the Ganga… it was great,” says Evans, who has been missing this annual trip with his group due to his film commitments. “And that really sucks!” he says.
At the age of 16 or 17, Evans began reading up and speaking to people about the philosophy, only to realise his calling. “There was a whole religion that felt the way I was feeling. That’s when I thought, ‘Wow, I think I’m a Buddhist’. But even in India you realise that Buddhism, Daoism and Hinduism are very similar. It’s just the dogma that separates these religions. And I’m not going to get caught up in that. I’m just more of an Eastern philosophy kind of guy,” says the actor, adding that, “The brain is a noisy place and all this is just to quiet it down. It’s certainly helpful to me while I’m on the sets.”
You’ve been the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, and now you’re Captain America (CA). That doesn’t usually happen.
I was a little concerned that the fans might not accept me as CA, given that I played the Torch, but it went well.
Would you reprise your part as the Human Torch if offered?
Probably not… it was a good time and a fun role, but I’m enjoying CA more. There was a time when I almost didn’t do it (CA). Looking back, God… I would have been such an idiot. It has changed the opportunities… I’m proud of the movies. It’s everything that I am in this industry for.
Changed opportunities in terms of the parts you get offered?
Well, they’re better now (laughs). Not quite sure about the tone, they are not actually more heroic. But doing a big movie affords you the opportunity to act in bigger films.
But you’re still interested in doing indie projects?
I think doing movies like CA affords you more freedom in the indie world. Smaller movies are more fun. I like movies that work… in six to seven weeks, fast, aggressive. With big movies… there’s a lot of waiting around.
Had you read the comics before you took on the film?
No, not really. Prior to making films, I never read comic books. You just have to make sure you understand who the fans are expecting. There was one CA comic called Mythos. It was the origin story. That’s my favourite one.
Are you afraid that at some point you could become more Captain America than Chris Evans?
I suppose. There’s always a worry about being pigeonholed, but when it’s something like CA… I could have worse problems (laughs). But that’s why you try and do something very different and opposite after; something darker.
CA and Iron Man coming together has been a huge talking point.
He (director Joss Whedon) wanted to create conflict within this family. It makes for good cinema, and the two most obvious polar opposite personality types would be Tony Stark and Steve Roger. But Robert Downey Jr is really like our father in this movie. It wouldn’t have happened if Iron Man hadn’t done what it did at the box-office.