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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the biggest thing that Hollywood has ever seen and the actors who play the heroes have become the human embodiment of these classic comic book characters. For this generation, and likely every one that comes after, Chris Evans will be Captain America. It's difficult to think of the character without thinking of the man, which makes it that much more surprising how close it all came to not happening at all.
Chris Evans has talked before about how he initially wasn't sure about taking on the role of Steve Rogers in the MCU, knowing the way it would increase his visibility and forcing him to take on a more public persona. He wasn't sure that was something he wanted. However, in a recent interview with The Awards Chatter Podcast, Evans spoke about how part of that feeling came from the fact that he was already experiencing small panic attacks, which made him wonder if acting was the right path for him at all. According to Evans...
It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set. I really started to think, 'I'm not sure if this [acting] is the right thing for me, I'm not sure if I'm feeling as healthy as I should be feeling.
Chris Evans says these on-set "mini panic attacks" were happening while he was making the movie Puncture, which is what he was doing when the call from Marvel initially came in. Since he wasn't sure if acting was healthy for him under his current circumstances, he certainly knew it would only become harder if he accepted the role as Captain America.
Luckily, both for him and for us, Marvel was persistent. Kevin Feige and the rest of the team at Marvel had decided that Chris Evans was the right choice, to the point that the studio made the decision to offer him the role even after he had declined it. In the end, Evans realized he was responding to the opportunity out of fear, and that wasn't the way he should make that decision.
Of course, simply making the decision doesn't change things overnight, and Chris Evans admits that he was still quite nervous on the set of Captain America: The First Avenger. He had a feeling like he was a bit in over his head. Luckily, for him, Evans says that filming The Avengers was actually a bit easier, because there was another actor in a very similar situation to his, Chris Hemsworth. The pair were able to find some comfort in the simple fact that they were both relative unknowns among heavyweights. Evans goes on...
It was nice having Chris Hemsworth around because he was going through it, too. I mean, at the time Downey's Downey and Scarlett's Scarlett [Johansson]. And [Mark] Ruffalo and [Jeremy] Renner, at the time, were crushing it, too. Hemsworth and I were very new and we also had the stand-alones and so I think we shared in our anxiety, and at least that made it a little bit more comforting.
Chris Evans became exactly the huge star he was afraid of by becoming Captain America. On the plus side, he clearly found a way to handle it and he's largely embraced it. He seems as happy to have been Cap as the rest of us are to have had him.