Actor Chris Evans has admitted that he owes Robert Downey Jr a debt of gratitude for convincing him to sign on to play Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Downey was already involved in the series as Iron Man.
“I knew where they wanted to go, that’s part of the initial deal, not just for Captain America but for Avengers movies and that was daunting,” Evans said in an interview to the Hollywood Reporter, recalling how a phone call from Downey put him at ease about working at Marvel. “And just hearing him kind of give you that little nudge of encouragement, it just made me feel a little bit more like I was part of the gang and not so intimidated. I guess it was a double edged sword, on the one hand it makes you feel very welcome but on the other hand you just think ‘Oh man, I gotta stand next to this guy? He’s crushing this role. I don’t want to be the weak link here.’ But it was a very nice comforting thing to hear that he was in my corner.”
Evans had previously said that he’d turned down the offer to play Captain America twice, because he was afraid to be tied down to a role for several years. But he was convinced to change his mind by his friends and his mother.
“And it really just kind of clicked and it really did start to make sense to me that way, so I said ‘Yeah,’” Evans said. “I think that’s why the whole first movie, my hair was on fire, you’re so scared just like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m doing this and please don’t backfire, please don’t blow up in my face. And not only did it not, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I really owe that to Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake….To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.”
Evans first appeared as Captain America in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. He reprised his role in two Captain America sequels and four Avengers films, besides a couple of cameos. The character was retired at the end of Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
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