Actor Chris Evans says he declined the chance to screen test for 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger a number of times due to his mental health.
The 38-year-old revealed on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast that he had suffered “mini-panic attacks” while filming 2010 indie film Puncture in Houston, Texas.
"It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set," Evans says. “They were low grade, but they were enough to make me question ‘Am I on the right path?’
"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.'"
It was during this time that Marvel Studios offered him the chance to test for the role of Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, after talks with John Krasinski fell through. It was a nine-picture deal on the table, including Captain America sequels, key roles in the forthcoming Avengers films, and a big paycheque, but Evans said ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
Read more: Evans on why he won’t return as Cap
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige came back a number of times, but it wasn’t until he was on his way home to LA from Houston that he agreed to come in for “a chat”. After being talked through the film and shown concept art of himself in the role, he said ‘no’ again. He said it seemed like too much, and Evans thought “my suffering would be my own”.
Marvel then offered him the role, no test, no audition and gave him the weekend to think about it. After seeking advice from therapists and trusted friends who told him that “fear” was dictating his decision, he relented.
He says that Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr., with whom he shared an agent, also reached out to convince him to join the burgeoning MCU.
“It was very nice, comforting thing to hear, that he was in my corner.”
"It was the best decision I've ever made, and I really owe that to [Marvel chief] Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake." he adds, "To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition."
Chris Evans played Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is streaming on Disney+.