Chris Evans May Have Never Found His Second Career If It Weren’t for Captain America

One of the old clichés of Hollywood is an actor saying “What I really want to do is direct.” Chris Evans doesn’t have to do that — he’s already done it. 

That said, Evans is still looking to expand his range of talents as he moves beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He had a strong initial outing with the hit Knives Out, and Evans wants to keep that string going. 

Evans got into Marvel thanks to his mom and Iron Man

Chris Evans on the red carpet
Chris Evans | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

By now it’s a fairly well-known story that Evans joined Marvel rather reluctantly. He had already played the Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies Fox made in the aughts. Fans and critics alike said Evans’ work stood out amid a lot of mediocrity, but Evans wasn’t sure he wanted to be tied to a multi-year, multi-movie commitment. 

SyFy Wire quoted an interview Evans gave in 2014 “The problem was initially, it was a nine-movie contract,” Evans said. “And they said, if these movies take off and do very well, and my life changes and I don’t respond well, I don’t have the opportunity to say, listen, I need a f***ing break. That just scared me.”

Then Marvel loosened the grip a bit, but Evans still prevaricated. Downey, whose career had been resuscitated thanks partly to Marvel, said, I said, ‘Look man, you might not like the fact that you’ve played one of these guys before (in ‘Fantastic Four’), but you know, the thing is this can afford you all sorts of other freedoms.’ I also thought he was the perfect guy for the job.”

That was more or less the same line of logic Evans’ family gave him, per a more recent interview Evans gave to Esquire

What has Chris Evans already directed?

At the time of the 2014 interview, the movie Evans helmed was called 1:30 Train, but by the time it was released, it was called Before We Go. It starred Evans and Alice Eve as two strangers who strike up a romance when they get stranded in Manhattan for an evening. 

The movie was rather poorly received, with a 27 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Critical Consensus stated, “Chris Evans’ directorial debut is modest to a fault, with a threadbare story and minimal style leaving his and Alice Eve’s likable performances adrift in New York City with nowhere to go”

Even if his first film as a director underwhelmed, Evans was grateful for the opportunity. “Without these (Marvel) movies, I wouldn’t be directing,” he had said. “They gave me enough overseas recognition to greenlight a movie.”  So even if Before We Go wasn’t well-received, the experience still proved Downey and Evans’ mother right. 

What else is on Chris Evans’ to-do list?

Most recently, Evans capitalized on his Knives Out momentum, starring in the Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob, about an assistant DA who is conflicted when he’s own son is accused of a heinous murder. It has an OK score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being, “Despite outstanding work from Michelle Dockery and Chris Evans, Defending Jacob stretches its source material too thin, undermining its own rich tension with too much melodramatic padding.”

However well Defending Jacob goes ever, Evans still gets credit for making interesting choices. He told Esquire of the experience.

“t felt like I had a regular nine-to-five job,” he says. “I’d sleep in my own bed; I’d see my family on weekends. A lot of times you have a bit of a nomadic lifestyle as an actor. You live out of suitcases and in cities you’re not familiar with. Doing Jacob made me feel like I was home but still doing what I love. It was incredibly comforting.”