Chris Evans, who raises a 7-year-old genius in ‘Gifted,’ remembers his own elementary-school years for USA TODAY.
LOS ANGELES — As Captain America, Chris Evans has dealt with hard-line S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury keeping order in the Marvel Universe But Fury hath nothing compared to the imposing force on the set of Evans’ film Gifted: 9-year-old Mckenna Grace, keeper of the swear jar.
“Mckenna made it clear early on that she wasn’t a fan of naughty language. She was like a bloodhound, always clocking it,” Evans says. “It’s tough to realize how often you swear, because it’s part of your vernacular. These things go unnoticed.”
Besides the off-camera potty mouth, Evans brings to notice entirely new sides onscreen in Gifted (in select cities Friday including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia; goes nationwide April 12), in which he portrays emotionally damaged Frank Adler, uncle and guardian to a young genius Mary played by Grace.
Director Marc Webb, who has gone between indie hits (500 Days of Summer) and two Amazing Spider-Man movies, says Evans shows the emotive range he’s capable of hitting in Gifted. Importantly, Evans is also able to work around the constraints of his superhero persona.
“If actors are known in the world one way, that brings a little piece of baggage. It’s OK for people to like Chris that way,” says Webb. “This is a new dimension for him. He gets emotional. There’s one moment where he may shed a tear. It’s not something Captain America is known for.”
During one power scene with Mckenna, Evans’ Frank steps on a Lego brick mid-reprimand.
“My character is very human, someone with flaws and real struggles,” says Evans. “The problems Frank has are far more relatable than saving the world from aliens.”
The 35-year-old actor is eyeing a fork in his superhero road. He’s about to suit up for 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, with production already underway. The follow-up, 2019’s Avengers 4, could be a wrap for Evans as Captain America. Wearing a fitted T-shirt that shows the impressive first stage of his superhero training regiment, Evans says he’s game to talk about extending his Marvel contract. But he’s not going to gripe if it doesn’t happen.
“I feel lucky to have been part of this chapter, of something that was unprecedented in movie history,” says Evans of acting during an era of Marvel dominance.
He has already had an emotion-filled 2017. It started with February’s viral footage of his wild celebration witnessing his beloved Patriots miracle Super Bowl win (“I wear my emotions on my sleeve”), followed by the announcement of his breakup from his Gifted co-star Jenny Slate after nine months together.
“Relationships are tricky, there are a lot of moving pieces,” says Evans of his ex. “I’m endlessly grateful for having met her.”
Chris Evans plays a father figure to a child prodigy (Mckenna Grace) in Marc Webb’s comedy/drama ‘Gifted.’
He plans on keeping busy with Avengers and will shoot Jekyll, which has Ellen DeGeneres as a producer.
But first, he’ll need to settle that unpaid swear bill. “It’s $463,000, give or take,” Webb says. “Why do you think he’s doing Avengers?”
Evans calculates differently. “It was one dollar for regular swears, five bucks a f-bomb. But I’m in the hole at least $100.”
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