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Why hasn't Chris Evans directed a second time after his 2014 debut with Before We Go? Well, he knows why: It's the script, stupid should be Hollywood's It's the economy, stupid since everything boils down to that basic ingredient.
So if you have a killer movie script sitting around, maybe send it to Chris Evans. That was apparently a problem with Before We Go, the indie romance Evans made before Avengers: Age of Ultron. The rom-com was originally called 1:30 Train, based on a script by Ron Bass (Rain Man).
Ultimately, Before We Go was filmed with four credited writers -- including Bass, but not Chris Evans -- and starred Evans and Alice Eve as the romantic leads. The movie got lousy reviews (27% RT, with a 56% audience score) but a decent 6.8/10 rating from more than 47,000 IMDb users.
It's clear, though, that Chris Evans wants better material for the second film he directs. The topic came up during a conversation between Avengers co-stars Evans and Scarlett Johansson for Variety Studio: Actors on Actors. She asked him where his head was at for future directing projects. Here's his answer:
I’m dying to direct, but I don’t have the courage or focus to write, and the hardest thing is finding material. The good material isn’t just sitting there untouched. When I directed, one of the trickiest things was I found some little broken-bird script and thought, ‘Oh, I can nurse this thing back to health.’ In retrospect, I do think even the best version of the movie I directed, there may still have been a ceiling based on the material.
"A ceiling based on the material" is a kind way of shading a story, but still shade. He's not wrong, though. The material for Before We Go was a sweet romantic comedy, that was its job and it found an audience. Was it one of the great rom-coms of our time? No. The story was slight, and he knows it, but the leads were charming and you could watch it on a plane to pass the time. It was a decent directorial debut -- it just sounds like Chris Evans thought he could do more with it, but he's aware that his own strengths aren't in screenwriting, so he's flashing the Batsignal (wrong hero?) for help with the next movie.
Scarlett Johansson asked her fellow Avenger what kind of stories he wanted to tell as a director. Chris Evans talked about his interest in Buddhism:
Those are stories that I think can touch people. I think we’re all looking to find out, from an egoic standpoint, what our relevance is, who we’re supposed to be, what the definition of joy and love and purpose is. Loose concepts of Buddhism address a lot of that. I certainly don’t have the skillset to write it, so I’m just on the hunt.
Interesting. It's certainly a deeper and more spiritual topic than a rom-com or a comic book movie. Exploring the meaning of life isn't exactly easy, though, unless you're Monty Python. Bernardo Bertolucci delved into this world a bit with Keanu Reeves in Little Buddha, although Chris Evans may be more interested in "loose concepts" rather than something so directly about Buddhism.
Chris Evans should be more free to pursue directing projects, now that he's finished (maybe) his role as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was recently in the Netflix film The Red Sea Diving Resort, written and directed by Gideon Raff. Now Evans is currently promoting Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson.
So he's been soaking up the experiences of writer-directors out there, and ones who've had mixed results. Maybe that will inspire him to just take the risk of adapting something meaningful to him and, well, what's the worst that can happen? Trolls on the internet say you ruined their childhoods? Sometimes that leads to script gold too.