It's hard to imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe without Chris Evans. However, the 38-year-old actor initially turned down the opportunity to play Captain America.
The Steve Rogers star revealed why he almost passed on the part during Monday's episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast.
After the success of the Fantastic Four movies, Evans felt anxious about acting shifting from being his "hobby" to being his job.
"When it becomes your job, weird egoic strings become attached and precautions and plans and all of a sudden it starts to feel a bit heavier," he said. "And yeah, anxiety comes with that. Because it was also during the proliferation of the Internet Age where all of a sudden you can read people's reactions online and all of a sudden your egoic story, your narrative, becomes entangled with what was once just this pure little ball of joy. And yeah, it manifested as anxiety and a little stress."
He then went on to star in the 2012 movie Puncture, where he "started to have mini panic attacks on set."
"They were enough to throw me a bit and enough to make me a question, like I said earlier, if I was on the right path," Evans recalled. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of a nightmare to wake you up. I really started to think, 'I'm not sure if this is the right thing for me. I'm not sure if I'm feeling as healthy as I should be feeling.'"
It was around this time that Evans also auditioned for What's Your Number? with Anna Faris. He was told he was up against John Krasinski but that The Office alum was in the running for Captain America, as well. Evans ended up getting the gig. After his team delivered the news, they surprised him with an update. He was told Marvel decided to go in a different direction and wanted him to come in for a test.
"I hung up and I kind of thought about it. And I really, for some reason, looked at it as, 'This is the temptation. This is it. This is the fork in the road. And I really want to kind of wake up to my life and take control of it. And I think this is where you say no,'" Evans said. "So, I called my team back and I said, 'Listen, thank them very much but I think I'm going to say no thanks.'"
While his team questioned his decision, they delivered the message. Still, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige persisted and eventually invited Evans to pay them a visit. Evans agreed but he felt like his mind was made up.
"I left Marvel. I said, 'You know, I've said no to this a couple times and I woke up feeling pretty good. I'm going to stick to my guns,'" he said. "I called my team and I said, 'Look, I'm passing. Thank them but no thanks.'"
After hearing the response, Feige decided to offer Evans the role without a test. He then gave him the weekend to make a decision.
"I took the weekend and I went to a few different therapists," Evans said. "I had never really been to therapy before. Just, you know, talked to a few different people."
While Evans knew he ran the risk of experiencing anxiety, he also knew he couldn't live in fear.
"I had a lot of people just say to me—they understood where I was coming from—but they said it sounded like I was making decisions based on fear, which is not untrue," he said. "They said, 'You can't do that. You can't live life that way.'"
Ultimately, Evans agreed to take the role—and it was the "best decision" he's ever made. In addition to starring in the Captain America standalone movies, he appeared in The Avengers films.
To listen to Evans' full interview, check out The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast.