‘Endgame’ star reflects on Steve Rogers — and why he almost turned the role down
By Gina McIntyre
Could you have imagined when you first took this role where it would lead?
No. It’s eclipsed any hope I could have possibly had.
At the time, they were asking for nine movies, and that’s a big commitment for an actor. My worry was that if the movie came out and somehow I didn’t respond well to the shift in lifestyle, that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to regroup, reassess and recalibrate. Kevin Feige, God bless him, wouldn’t let me make such a horrible mistake.
I ended up speaking to a few people that I really respect and some people in my life who are far smarter than I am. [They] said it sounded to them more like the decision was one predicated in fear than it was practicality. And they weren’t wrong. A decision based on fear is never the right decision.
I remember feeling a huge amount of pressure on the first Captain America film. I knew they were planning this hopeful map of Avengers movies that would eventually intertwine, and nothing had ever really been done in this way before. The success of our individual movies was a prerequisite, so that was intimidating.
I was a nervous wreck at the beginning, and Robert Downey Jr. was an incredibly calming presence and a real source of confidence in the early stages for me. How did you approach playing Steve Rogers in “Endgame”?
Steve had always been of service, but I think that was because he felt it was the right thing to do. When we pick him up in “Endgame,” it is almost born of necessity. Like, if he’s not of service in some way, he’ll drive himself mad. It almost felt medicinal, quotidian, meditative. When his eyes open in the morning, the only thing he can think to do is get up, put on clothes and then go try to help people because if he doesn’t, something may unravel. There is an urgency to it.
What does third-act happiness look like for Steve? It always felt like it had to involve Peggy Carter. Peggy’s home for Steve and that’s why in a lot of ways that movie [“Captain America: The First Avenger”], that original character, is kind of home for me. That’s the way I always will see the character. He has always been and always will be that little guy for me. That’s who [Cap] is. Will you miss Cap?
Very much. I love him. There’s no other way to put it. You try to have a deep bond with all the roles you play. I’d like to believe that there will be more meaningful connections in the roles I choose [in the future], but I doubt there will be one that has the pop culture footprint that Captain America has, that the Avengers have had.
There are so many wonderful relationships I’ve formed, especially the original six Avengers, those guys, they’re my family. We’ve had so many wonderful moments together. It’s such a blessing how well we get along. It’s so rare to really truly connect and click the way we all do. How did it feel when you saw “Endgame”?
Wonderful. Overwhelming. There’s a million and one ways that this whole thing could have gone wrong, and it didn’t. And that’s amazing.
I was emotional the last day of filming; I was emotional at the premiere. The days are long, the years are short, and you look back and think, “I was so close...” It’s like “Sliding Doors,” I almost said no to this. This was almost a completely different journey for me. I was lucky enough to agree to do it and none of my fears came to fruition. I met people who will be my best friends, my family for life. I was a part of a pop culture phenomenon. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that something like this would happen.