In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Chris Evans spoke about his portrayal of Captain America in the Marvel Universe, per E! Online. While his big-screen portrayal of the shield-wielding superhero may come across as the pinnacle of confidence, the actor admitted that crippling anxiety had forced him to turn down the role several times.
As Evans found success as an up-and-coming actor, his anxiety problems were growing in tandem with his rising profile. He described the shift from seeing acting as a “hobby” to it being his job as a difficult adjustment. Evans added that the growth of social media during those years — and the ability to see so many people’s opinions and critiques of his work — also weighed heavily on his mind.
That anxiety would manifest itself in panic attacks. His first experience with such attacks came in 2010 while filming indie project Puncture. The attacks began to make Evans question if acting was the “right thing” for him.
“They were enough to throw me a bit and enough to make me question, like I said earlier, if I was on the right path.”
This led Evans to turn down an offer to try out for the role of Steve Rogers from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. At the time, Evans considered the decision an opportunity to “wake up to my life and take control of it.” When Marvel offered an increase in salary — and cut his character’s commitment from nine films to six — Evans again turned down the opportunity.
Marvel eventually offered Evans the role outright, and gave him a weekend to decide if he was going to accept. The actor took the role after conversations with Robert Downey Jr., a therapist, and several family friends.
“I had a lot of people just say to me—they understood where I was coming from—but they said it sounded like I was making decisions based on fear, which is not untrue. They said, ‘You can’t do that. You can’t live life that way.'”
At the end of that weekend, Evans would accept the role of Captain America, and the rest is history. The actor considers his decision to take the role — and become one of the pivotal characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — as the best decision he had ever made in his life.
As for the panic attacks, Evans said he was able to conquer his anxiety before it impacted his career.
“To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.”