Blink and you’d have missed Chris Evan’s auspicious first big screen lead as stereotypical jock Jake Wyler in 2001’s surprisingly funny teen movie parody Not Another Teen Movie.
Making the leap from small comedy to one of the four leads of 20th Century Fox’s 2005 summer hopeful smash Fantastic Four (by way of only a couple of other projects) signalled something of a star in the making, and after seeing a thrilling new side to Evans in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, he may just be a good actor too.
It was also a great surprise to see the great role you had in Sunshine.
I love that movie and was so pleased to be a part of that project.
Do you have a preference?
Absolutely. I love films like Sunshine. It’s so nice — not just the final product but the process. There was two months of rehearsal time and very in-depth preparation, from going to see films and going to lectures to taking classes in scuba diving and zero gravity plane. There’s was so much homework to be done — which I feel is necessary for any good film — and it was just such a nice process.
It must have been a different experience from Fantastic Four where you’re sitting around forever waiting for effects, etc.
Yeah, it feels a bit more tedious, there wasn’t as much rehearsal time, you just dive right in and give it a shot. Sunshine felt much more like a project of passion.
What about the difference between the characters of Johnny Storm and Mace, you have to play them quite differently. Does one or the other give you more of a charge or challenge you more?
I guess Johnny’s a bit more available. It’s more accessible because Johnny’s a happy guy, he’s in a good mood. Everyone at some time in their day is just in a good mood — whether you have peaks and valleys or not there’s some part of your day where you just feel great and Johnny lives in that moment all the time. So it’s a lot of laughs and a lot of smiles and it’s easy to funnel in what’s happening around you through that kind of filter.
Mace is a bit more internal. He’s more complicated but he doesn’t always choose to express himself. He doesn’t mince words and he bites his tongue. It’s kind of a lot of contradictions that just adds more layers and you feel like you’ve definitely worked as an actor.
Is one or the other character a bit more like the real Chris Evans?
That’s a good question. I think I may be seen as a bit more Johnny but at times I feel a bit more like Mace.
Obviously we don’t see a film like Fantastic Four for the Shakespearian drama, we see it for the effects and the spectacle. On a film like that do you end up feeling a little like you can just coast and not have to try too hard?
That’s dangerous and risky because if don’t try too hard I think you’ll see it in the final product and be unhappy. At the end of the day this is permanent, and it’s not only permanent, it’s your job, so if you’re not going to put 100 percent into it, it really isn’t worth doing.
How did they do the effects of you flying and on fire, was it full body scans by the computer and green screens and stuff?
Pretty much, that’s all CGI. There wasn’t one bit of pyrotechnics on the set, every bit of it was added in post production.
They didn’t really light you on fire then?
[Laughs] No, they didn’t go that far.
Johnny Storm is a natural show-off. It’s said to be a successful actor all you need is to be a show-off. How true is that? What does acting talent mean to you?
I guess showing off could make sense if you mean being able to expose yourself. It’s being able to be vulnerable, it’s being able to shut off your third eye and recognise that you’re about to make a fool out of yourself in front of 30 strangers and they’re all right next to you so you have to check your ego at the door. In a sense I can relate that to showing off, so in a way that’s accurate.
Is it a crazy time now you’re tipping over to real A-list stardom? How does it feel?
It’s wonderful, I get to do what I love and that’s rare. I think everyone in the world I trying to get to that place and do what they love for a living. So I couldn’t be any more grateful and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it, try to be present and just hope it doesn’t end.
Sunshine was a lot more dramatic for everyone involved including you, is that a direction you want to follow?
Absolutely. Not only is a personal favourite of mine as far as genres go but at this point in time it’s not so much a focus on the genre as it is a focus on the director. I’m interested in making good movies and I think where you find a good director good films tend to follow. If Danny Boyle called me tomorrow and asked me to do a broad comedy I’d probably do it. I think if you have a good captain — a good storyteller — you’ll end up with a good movie.
Any desire to write or direct
That’s the next plan, that’s on the horizon and the sooner I can get to it the better.
Any thing going on you can tell us about?
Oh my God, no, if there was anything to tell I’d tell it just to try and move the process along but as of right now it’s still at ground level form.