It’s a story commonly echoed in show business -- a performer nearly passes on an opportunity of a lifetime and their reluctance to move forward with the gig changes the course of film history forever -- and such was the case for Evans.
Only in Evans’ case, the Marvel star reportedly eschewed the career-making gig a number of times before agreeing to don the mask and shield – and was serious about not doing it.
Speaking on the Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, Evans, 38, told the program that he struggled to cope with the ascending trajectory his career was taking and didn’t know how to go about managing his angst.
“All of a sudden your hobby becomes your job,” he explained. “Anxiety comes with that.”
Evans said the inability to wrangle his anxiety forced him to turn down the opportunity to audition for the leader of the Avengers known as Steve Rogers and his alter ego Captain America multiple times in the series’ installment of “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
The reported proposal would have drastically increased Evans’ salary and offered to shave three films off his contract, going from nine down to six movies.
“My suffering would be my own,” Evans declared, adding that he felt his rise to superstardom would only fuel his anxiety and feared that taking on the coveted role would change the public’s perception of him on social media – as Evans was pondering making the leap “during the proliferation of the internet age where all of a sudden you can read people’s reactions online.”
During his time on the audio show, Evans said he initially began feeling panic attacks a decade ago while filming the independent project “Puncture,” in 2010.
“It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set,” he recalled, explaining that he wasn’t sure if “this [acting] is the right thing for me.”
But Marvel remained steadfast on landing the rising star and sweetened the pot by offering Evans the role outright – all he had to do was say yes.
Evans gathered his ducks in a row, first by reaching out to fellow “Avengers” teammate Robert Downey Jr., whose career as “Iron Man” has all but solidified his place in Marvel history, as well as a therapist and a slew of family and friends who he said all advised him not to make decisions based on fear and to bet on himself.
And as the expression goes – the rest is history. Evans learned how to properly manage his attacks and accepted his new place among the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” says Evans, who also played Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in the Marvel draw “Fantastic Four” in 2005 and its 2007 sequel, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”
“To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition,” Evans added.