Part 3 of 3! Exclusively available to the strong willed readers of part 1 and part 2 as well as anyone who has the internet and knows where to find us. This one has quite a bit more of Chris than part 2, so if Captain America is more to your taste than indie flicks, you’ll get your fix here.
The afternoon with Chris Evans, Vinessa Shaw and Mark and Adam Kassen is winding down even if the conversation hasn’t skipped a beat. Between the skyrocketing popularity of Evans, the challenges of budget filmmaking, the issues surrounding Puncture‘s story and all things Captain America and The Avengers, this could have gone all day but it’s the Tribeca Film Festival and there are other members of the press anxious to assume my spot at the table.
It’s a pretty weird experience interviewing a major celebrity for the first time (no offense Patrick Meaney). You walk in and leave with a professional handshake and a half-empty sign of appreciation, then spend the rest of the day wishing there was time to just shower praise. Young male actors in movies are at a pretty serious disadvantage in my eyes. I’m always seeing them as unworthy to fill the shoes of Al Pacino and many of the other great actors now in their late sixties and early seventies, but when I viewed Cellular and London I pretty much welcomed Chris Evans with open arms. Plus, he’s a Boston local. We’re renting him out to Hollywood for the time being but we’ve got a film production tax credit now so Chris, I think it’s about time you came home.
Chris, can you speak on what pressures you might feel trying to do a real person justice on screen and compare that to Captain America where the audience, and not the person’s family and friends, have a preconceived notion?
(Chris becomes more relaxed considering the question.)
Chris Evans: Yeah it’s different. I wish I could say this was worse but Captain America is so stressful because there are so many people deeply involved with the comic book and it’s stressful because there are so many people’s livelihoods at stake. A lot of people have invested money in these films and they want these films to do well because it’s their job and if the films do well a lot of people are employed and there are the fans who are in love with the character and you wanna do them justice. This was tough because it was personal, this wasn’t about money, ya know, or things you grew up with, or your childhood, this is a brother or a son or someone that really mattered to a lot of people and that’s just so precious. The fact that they would even want to give us the story is just a blessing for all of us and that to me was.. ya know when those guys were on set and Paul and guys that knew mike would come to the set and just.. I couldn’t even… we talked to them before shooting but once they were on set I was like I can’t talk to these guys on set, man. I’m gonna freak myself out. I’m gonna second guess everything I’m doing, I’m gonna get lost in my own head. I’ve made some decisions, I have to commit to these decisions and just hope for the best but it was constantly in my head constantly in my head probably more so than Captain America.
and you have experience working with a Marvel Comics franchise already…
Chris: Well personally I felt like I was safer on Fantastic Four. I was kind of in the background and my career was kind of early and everyone just wants to talk to Jessica Alba so… (laughs) but it was really safe because that was a nice way to go about it, I mean if (FF) doesn’t work out it’s not my fault if it does maybe I’ll get a little bit of runoff. I mean… Captain America, it’s just me out there so that’s just a lot more terrifying. I was just this little guy. With Puncture we shot every day, I mean how long was the shoot?
Adam Kassen: 25 days.
Chris: That’s insane.
Chris: It was really crazy there was no day where it was just like this is a relaxing day today I can just say a few lines, or it’s not really about me in the scene. You’re dealing with maybe one page a day with Captain America. Most of the day is spent in my trailer.
Mark Kassen: and after you went home you called people and asked questions and we talked about the script and that’s great but that’s after a twelve hour shoot day.
Chris: yeah that’s when I realized. After the first week of filming I was like alright my weekend has to be all about… I mean most of the time you do your day at work and you go home and you prepare for the weekend but it’s just felt like i would look two days from now and say I really have to look at two days from not but then three days from now I have to do that scene and then four days from not I have that scene and… SHIT. I really need more time after the first week, that weekend I just didn’t leave my apartment I just was up there working on things I’ve just never done so much work.
If Captain America turns out to be a huge hit will it make it more difficult for you to do smaller films?
Chris: I hope not. Getting scripts like this is a treat, finding stories that have a great social message that make you think that make you feel. At the end of the day, that’s all it is, I mean I love acting but I really, really love movies because I really think movies can do things to people that not many other mediums can. You can change people, even the most narrow minded single person can really see things differently through it, things like music and art and film, film is just a crazy thing to me and when you get a script like this that really strikes a chord, that’s why we do this.
So now that we know what the schedule was like, when we start to see Mike’s gears turning, is it you trying to figure out “what am I doing?”
Chris: (laughs) Yeah, exactly like that.
Mark: We just rolled between takes.
Chris: No, when I got to set I was really prepared but it was at night that I was having those panic attacks and midnight sweats.
Adam: It’s really easy to take for granted how prepared Chris was. I mean, knowing your lines is not a small thing when you’re dealing with a complicated journey. One of the things we just had no experience with whatsoever was having a culturally known person and then shooting on the street on a Friday night in front of a bar and not realizing that people might wanna see a good looking famous actor dude and we have to say, hey could you ask the extras not to have their cell phone cameras out? Then there was the party scene with these hundreds of extras who were great but they wanna see Chris and they have things to say.
Mark: and we gave him no place to go, either. There was no trailer we just had to let that happen.
The press notes compare what Chris was going for with Paul Newman. Are you two a fan of The Verdict?
Mark: Yeah we’re both a fan of The Verdict and it was very similar to what we wanted in terms of tone and I’m a great Paul Newman fan. Maybe on subconscious level. I never thought of Chris as Newman but it’s an interesting comparison. We had hoped we could make a movie that had that great texture, that has those great performances. We definitely pulled it off with the performances and the rest, we’ll see.
Do you think the shift in Mike was occurring before he had begun work on the case, just in terms of expecting more of himself and dealing with the world in a different way? In the scene in which you’re first sitting with Vinessa’s character it almost seems like Mike is mentally in some other place and I wondered if that place was this character already going through that change but later starts to see it as an outlet with which he can really do something with that.
Mark: That’s a really hard question to answer.
Chris: You mean in real life? Who knows. I mean obviously this is a film, we’re taking scenes that probably didn’t happen in real life. I can’t speak for Mike’s real life, obviously we’re taking scenes and injecting them in something that’s really entertaining but in the script… yeah I think so. I mean from what I heard about Mike, the common denominator was that at times he was a bit hurtful not intentionally but.. I think with those guys that are so brilliant and they’re brains work so much faster they speak before they think and at times they just won’t listen and when you start understanding the sacrifice play and putting yourself last, that makes for an interesting shift and sure I love that scene, I mean she makes that scene but I think yeah that’s a real turning point for him.
Adam: I think from talking to people I can say that there were multiple moments like that when you trip and you feel bad and you try again. They become self conscious and they either rise or they fall.
(Hands are being shaken and I have to address it.)
I’m really happy it was you that stepped into the role of Captain America.
Chris Evans: Oh good, well I hope we do you justice man.
We’re already seeing reports of a sequel taking place in the modern day
Do you think that would be here in New York?
Chris: *Sigh*… ah.
Because it’s a huge part of that character adjusting to how his home has changed.
Chris: I know.
I mean there’s an Ikea in Red Hook now.
Chris: Yeah, I know, right? That’s just…
Ebbets Field, all of that.
Chris: Well, The Avengers takes place in New York, we’re shooting in Albuquerque but it takes place in New York… with the Cap sequel I mean… I would assume yeah, I can’t picture it without.. they’ve just have to, right? But I really don’t know.