Chris Evans has made Captain America/Steve Rogers his own to such an extent that it’s a bit jarring and strange to speak with him about anything but the Marvel Universe.
But, among the many upsides of being cast in the pre-eminent blockbusters of the century, is the power and opportunity to do the sort of artistic work you’ve always wanted.
The 34-year-old stars in “Before We Go,” a romance set amid the magical cinematic setting of New York City in the late-night hours, and he steps behind the camera as director for the first time on it as well.
amNewYork spoke with Evans about the film, now in theaters and on demand.
The leap to directing is tough. Why now, and why on this film?
To be completely candid, it’s not easy being a first-time director, finding a project where the producers are willing to trust you. The moons have to align. You have to find a project that is available, that you connect to, and a project that is owned by someone willing to give you a chance.
Naturally, you must have thought you could bring something to this your average filmmaker couldn’t. What was that?
I like movies that take place in a finite amount of time. I think it’s always interesting to watch the characters grow virtually in real time as opposed to these broad sweeping epics that take place over decades. And I like films that read like theater. … This piece almost read like Neil LaBute. It was very conversational, which I enjoy.
How do you open things up and make the material cinematic?
We don’t have one single shot in the entire movie that’s on sticks or on a dolly. Every single shot is handheld. We used a lot of long lenses. New York, at night, you’re going to have a lot of beautiful background lights and the more we can make that light soft and buzz a little bit, the more romantic I feel that the shot becomes.
To what extent has Captain America opened things up for you in terms of opportunities?
If I hadn’t done Captain America, this is just a simple fact, this movie would not have happened. Doing the Marvel films, gives overseas awareness, and given the fact that the majority of films that are made for less than $10 or $5 million dollars, are probably going to be made on this foreign pre-sale model, you need to plug certain actors into your project that get these movies funded.
You’ve been handed significant power thanks to your Marvel work. What do you intend to do with it?
I would agree wholeheartedly and I was almost the [expletive] that didn’t do it. I almost walked away from these Marvel movies. God. … No, it’s been the best decision of my life. As a result, I’m going to try … to continue directing regardless of what happens with this movie. I had a great experience, and I learned a lot, I’m trying to do it again next year. I have Marvel to thank for that.