'Captain America: The First Avenger': Chris Evans on fighting to play the Marvel hero's wimpy kid alter-ego

The recently-released trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger is generating much buzz among comic book fanboys and less geeky civilians alike for showcasing one of the movie’s most impressive effects — and it isn’t the frightening spectacle of Hugo Weaving’s blood red skull or the stirring sight of the All-American hero hurling his vibranium shield at phalanx of Hydra baddies. (But for the record: Pretty cool, too.)

No, it’s the striking image of star Chris Evans looking distressingly gaunt as Captain America’s alter-ego, Steve Rogers. Credit special effects magic similar to what director David Fincher used to make the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network – and to Evans’ own lobbying. When he was cast as the shield baring WWII-era super-soldier of Marvel Comics legend, Evans sweated the prospect of toning and bulking up his body to fill out the hero’s physique flattering star-spangled threads. But he was even more concerned about how the filmmakers intended to deal with Rogers, the scrawny lad with a big heart who volunteers for a top secret experiment that turns 4H runts into Nazi-fighting studs.

“When I signed up, I thought they were going to use special effects to shrink me down,” Evans tells EW, perhaps best know for playing another Marvel hero, the Human Torch, in two Fantastic Four films. But when he heard the producers were considering using a skinny kid to double as Skinny Steve, Evans protested: “Not to be an annoying actor about this, but the skinny part of the performance is going to be when the audience decides if they care about Captain America, because Captain America is that little guy at heart. It had to be me. I had to make that guy.” In the end, Team (Captain) America employed a variety of techniques — body doubles, oversized clothing, head-replacement f/x and trick photography — to make Steve the valiant wimp that he is, and to keep as much of Evans’ performance in the picture as possible. “It’s a great story about a relatable guy,” says Evans. “He’s an underdog who despite shortcomings chooses the good instead of bitterness. I think anyone is capable of that.”

For more on Captain America: The First Avenger, plus scoop on 100 other summer movies, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @EWDocJensen

Comments (28 total) Add your comment
  • JRWolfe

    Its 4F ,not 4H

  • loop

    no…it’s 4H moron

    • checked my facts first

      4F is a rating of the American Selective Service System for unfit for service. Since they aren’t talking about farming and it IS based on Steve Rogers’ time in the Army… Don’t worry, I won’t call you a moron like you did to JRWolfe, but I will suggest you check you facts before you stick your foot in your mouth again!

      • checked my facts first

        *your facts (not “you”). Forgot to proof-read it before I posted.

      • Ruddin

        I think they have to make another Fantastic Four movie puerly for the rights. If they don’t make one soon, it will default back to Marvel/Disney. It’s probably going to be a reboot too. Dennis

      • Nobuko

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  • Dumbledore Fluffernutter

    4H runt? Maybe the writer is correct- perhaps this Steve Rogers grew up on a farm.

  • Jim

    Typical self-enamored actor. If he was really concerned about the verosimilituded of the film, why not lose weight, film all the “skinny scenes” first, then bulk up and film the rest? But o course that would have been too much work. Instead he kept another actor from earning his pay, just to make sure his own face was even more prominently featured.

    • Josh

      I’m pretty sure he didn’t have the luxury of filming, stopping filming for a few months to bulk up, then start filming again. There is no way a studio would go for that. And your comment is so bitter. Out of work actor?

      • Meg

        Yeah…I’m sure that a film that has hundreds of millions of dollar at thir disposal, can’t afford to wait for its actor to get skinny and then bulk up. It’s not like Tom Hanks/Cast Away/Philadelphia has ever done it….Oh, wait…

      • Clarissa

        Marvel/Paramount is on a time table with the fact that they already had the release date for The Avengers set before they even started work on Captain America. I’m sure that if Tom Hanks, international movie star and two time Oscar winner, were playing Captain America and wanted to lose the weight it’d be no problem… however if they guy from Fantastic Four wanted to, well why wait when they can release the movie now?

    • dave

      yes, cause its that easy…

      • Ellen

        Tom Hanks had no problem doing it. Twice.

      • mickey

        tom hanks filmed another movie in the break time he took on castaway, and they knew that going in. in philadelphia, he lost the weight gradually as the disease took over. this film, once it was decided, had a pretty tight shooting schedule. it had to come out this summer to work within the rest of the avengers series. so there was simply no time for chris evans to bulk up and slim down for this film, period. it’s entirely possible to do – christian bale did “the machinist” and the Batman movies, that’s a swing of 125 pounds, i’m thinking – but it takes quite a while. no time to do that on this film, period.

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    • Bruce Wayne

      Dont hate just cause you cant play a superhero. We all know you already have tickets for the movie with your little costume.

    • nick

      jim, you’re so stupid it hurts.

    • matt

      it means he would have had to lose 50 or 60 pounds and gain 150 pounds in the span of a year or two

    • fifty8th

      1. It can hurt you physically, see Matt Damon in Courage Under Fire
      2. Time constraints When Tom Hanks Did it it was just getting skinny not building muscle to play a superhero
      3. It isn’t just being skinny, he can’t loose height

    • Peter Vee

      Yeah, it’s so arrogant and unreasonable to ask fro control over the work you will be ultimately judged by.

    • Allison

      That’s a crappy thing to say. It wasn’t that he wanted more face-time on the camera, but Chris wanted to stay true to the film and to the character. I think that’s admirable. I’ve seen films that might have been great if they hadn’t done what you suggested. No, I think what they did was perfect, because instead of getting to know one person as Steve Rogers, and then having to relate to another person as well in the same film who plays the same person would not have had the same effect as what it did.

    • Ion

      Seeing how well they pulled off the siknny Steve Rogers gave me more faith about the movie. I didn’t see Johnston’s latest movie Wolfman, which people tell me was horrible, so I’m going into this movie with decent expectations. Dennis

  • Koozebane

    Can’t wait to see Thor! And Cap! And the Avengers!!!!!!!

  • kremzeek!

    it’s not that steve rogers is small,it’s that he’s too small(in the original comics,he was sickly)i like how they did it,besides,it’s not ego to want to play the runtish rogers.we need to see that it’s the same guy all the way through the movie otherwise it’s like those old dance movies where they’d show the star’s face then cut to dancing feet then back to the star’s face.evans is right.

  • Monica

    Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Chris Evans playing the runt. But to me, it looks like the head is too big for the body. (Which it is.) Armie Hammer was able to pull it off in the Social Network because the other guy was approximately the same size, but Chris Evans’s head looks a little freaky.

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