That the man who plays the First Avenger suffers from anxiety isn't much of a surprise. Over the last few years Chris Evans has let it be known his discomfort in being the focus of so much attention, but as the promotion for Marvel's Captain America: Civil War ramped up he had to prepare himself all over again.
The actor has been pretty open about his anxiety issues. In 2011, he discussed going to therapy before starting work on Captain America: The First Avenger (and after turning down the role). He's also talked about the panic that set in when he did say yes to Marvel was probably a good thing. It fueled him to get help, “The second I agreed to do it, I was like, ‘All right, I”ll do this, but I”ve got to start working on my head.””
Rolling Stone recently did a feature piece on Evans, and they give a good description of just the kind of thing the actor has to deal with for each film:
There are black helicopters buzzing over Hollywood Boulevard. The LAPD has shut down traffic in both directions. Thousands of civilians are amassed on the sidewalk. If this were a comic- book movie, now would be the time when the sky opens up and the alien mothership comes swooping in, space guns blazing. But because it's just the premiere of a comic-book movie – Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, opening this month – all the hubbub merely presages the arrival of the man of the hour, the leader of the Avengers, Cap himself: 34-year-old Chris Evans, flashing an action figure smile as he steps out of a blue Audi sports car and onto the red carpet.
Audi is a sponsor of Civil War hence the specific arrival but they didn't pick him up at his house. “It's a little nerve-racking,” Evans told Rolling Stone later. “You're in the SUV with your family, your people. And then you have to pull over in some weird parking lot and do the swap. There's security and all these people. All of a sudden you're out of your comfort zone. It's strange. The little things that can tip you over.”
Now some of you might be thinking, “Oh, the poor millionaire has to smile for the cameras and talk to people for a few hours. Such a hard life.” But for people with anxiety disorders, that's a nightmare no matter how much money you make, and something you have to work constantly on. Which Evans has.
He's tried calming his mind through meditation and Buddhism – he once spent three weeks studying with a guru in Rishikesh, India, and he says reading Siddhartha changed his life – and by reading the works of Oprah-approved spiritualist Eckhart Tolle. “I've gotten better,” Evans says. But he still struggles sometimes with overanalyzing things, with letting his self-consciousness take over, with not just being present in the moment.
“Chris can be a delicate flower a little bit,” his co-star Scarlett Johansson told RS. “You just want to pat his back: 'Aw, Chrissy. You're all right.' It's not like Robert [Downey Jr.], who I think puts on a persona to protect his private self. It's not in Chris' nature to put on a face that isn't totally natural.”
So yeah, for someone putting their true selves out there for public consumption, it's rough. Especially when it comes to the big, noisy, and crowded premieres.
“A red carpet lasts, what, 30 minutes tops? But that to me is like 30 minutes of walking on hot coals,” Evans says, sitting at home in jeans, a Toronto Maple Leafs hat and a chambray shirt with a rip in one arm. “It's not like a junket – junkets you sit in a room and they bring 'em in. I can do that all day and not have a meltdown. But the premiere – that's overwhelming. It's the volume of it: You're in the center of this thing. You can fight a whole army if they line up one at a time. But if they surround you, you're fucked.”
I'm honestly having anxiety just thinking about it. That would be terrible for anyone. But in case, you're thinking Evans is in agony 24/7 over promoting the latest Marvel box office smash, he's not, but it is pretty close.
“It's nice to talk about the work with people who are interested – but I freak out when I hear stupid questions about stupid things, and you've gotta act like you give a fuck. It's part of the job, I've got to sell this thing. But it's just a gross feeling,” he said. “You're making just more noise, and more trash, and almost selling something, and nothing of this is clean. It's all a river of garbage, and you're just in it.”
Once he's done with his Marvel contract, Evans has said he'd like to do less acting and more directing (he debuted those skills with Before We Go). “I love acting,” he told RS, “but that's not all you're asking me to do.”