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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - This Friday, actor Chris Evans is poised to become a household name when he takes on the role of Captain America in the Marvel Studio's feature film "Captain America: First Avenger."
Evans famously turned down the role several times before accepting the part of a skinny, bullied orphan during the 1940s named Steve Rogers who is transformed into the muscular Captain America thanks to a top secret serum developed by the government. He goes on to lead the U.S. Army in a fight to victory against the Nazis.
Evans, 30, sat down with Reuters to talk about his initial apprehension, why he went into therapy over it and what it felt like to put on the superhero's costume for the first time.
Q: Most actors would kill to play a superhero role, but you turned it down at first. Why?
A: "For me it was about a potential lifestyle change. I've been able to make films over the past 10 years but still maintain my anonymity. 'Captain America' could change that and if it did, I wouldn't have the opportunity to walk away if it rubbed me the wrong way because I made a commitment to six movies. That was scary."
Q: You made a similar commitment when you signed on to play the Human Torch in Marvel's "The Fantastic Four."
A: "Let's be real, the 'Fantastic Four' movies weren't that good. And I came out clean because there were four of us (Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd and Michael Chiklis). We shared the load so it wasn't just me. 'Captain America' lives or dies (on my shoulders). That's intimidating."
Q: When you accepted the role, you promptly went into therapy. Why?
A: "I went because I struggle in the public eye. That was my issue. All I kept thinking about was the amount of responsibility on the press side of things that 'Captain America' was gonna expect out of me -- and I hate doing press. What if I couldn't handle people's opinions of me? I know that shouldn't dictate a person's degree of peace or happiness in life, but the problem is, I chose a business saturated in judgment."
Q: You seem to be handling yourself well. Therapy helped?
A: "It's nice to see someone and say things out loud that you don't normally say. Maybe it's different for girls, but I don't talk about this (stuff) with my buddies. I don't keep a journal. This was stuff kicking around in my brain. But this film has been a great catalyst. Had I not done 'Captain America,' I probably wouldn't have made the first step to go help myself."
Q: Do you remember the first time you tried on the iconic, red, white and blue 'Captain America' costume?
A: "Yes, it was terrifying. When I first put on the suit, I was still at a point in my head where I was a little in conflict about accepting that role. I thought to myself, 'What am I doing? What have I gotten myself into?' But it grew on me. I'd say about two, three months into filming, it started becoming really cool and I started enjoying it."
Q: Do you see a commonality between you and your character?
A: "It was nice to play someone who was shying away from the limelight. It was a pretty interesting parallel between what was happening with the character's life and my life: this great opportunity, this radical transformation, but a hesitation to accept the full responsibility of what was given to you."
Q: You're halfway through shooting "The Avengers," which comes out next May. Who are you closest to in that cast?
A: "Chris Hemsworth (who plays Thor) and I certainly have a kinship. We're both in a very similar situation so it's nice to be able to lean on him when we come to set and we're surrounded by Academy award nominees and winners (Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo).
Q: Your next film is the September release of the independent movie "Puncture" where you play a functioning drug addict who works as a lawyer. That's quite the 180-degree turn from superheroes.
A: "I did 'Puncture' early last year. Right at the end of that movie is when I got the offer for 'Captain America.' I had such a good time on 'Puncture.' In my head I was like, 'Why don't I just keep doing these great little indies? They don't make big splashes, I can have respect within my industry, be creatively satisfied and maintain my anonymity.' It didn't make sense to rock the boat."
Q: But you did...
A: "Initially I looked at 'Captain America' as a potential lose/lose. But that's obviously not the case. It was the right thing to do and I'm glad I did it."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte