Chris Evans broke the No. 1 rule of Hollywood. Acting lore suggests it’s not a good thing to work with children or animals because both can make a production difficult. But, despite that warning, Evans stars with 10-year-old Mckenna Grace and a cat in “Gifted.”
He not only has a feline co-star but the cat has only one eye.
A mention of the longtime acting rule gets a laugh from Evans who then says, “It’s OK to work with children and animals if they are this good. McKenna was unbelievable and the cat was special.
“Actresses like Mckenna don’t come along that young. She has that ability to be a child but also understand this is a job.”
Mckenna’s portrayal of a first grader who’s a math genius required her to play both a brain and brat. The youngster becomes the central point of conflict between her uncle (Evans) and grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) over how the child should be raised.
And, the cat gives the movie an additional emotional level.
The contribution by Evans is that he’s playing Frank Adler, a man who doesn’t have all the answers but is trying to do what he feels in his heart is right. In that way, his character in “Gifted” is not that different from how he plays Captain America.
“I think they are both good men,” Evans says. “Both are selfless to some degree but I think Cap has a little more burden and guilt and shame. He has less of an array of tools to tackle those on his own.
“But Frank has his own shame and is working on forgiveness.”
The biggest difference between Captain America and Frank Adler is that Frank lives in a very real world where his biggest concerns are paying the rent and having a night to himself. Most of the time he’s a kind and caring uncle just making the best decision for his niece.
Evans found it easy to work with McKenna because he has nephews. That helped him create the familiarity director Marc Webb wanted the two actors to have. Just like big explosions and well-staged fights help Evans get into character to play Captain America, the connection he made with McKenna helped him find the family vibe in “Gifted.”
“It is so nice to have such a tangible world to work in. It’s also nice to have dialogue I am not delivering while leading people into battle,” Evans says. “This character is far more closely related to my own experiences.
“This was great because you don’t have someone who is a clear villain. The film shows the complexities of all sides when emotions are tangled.”
Most of his experiences have to do with acting. The Boston native began his career in 2000, very quickly after moving to Hollywood, with a role in the TV series “Opposite Sex.” His credits since then, along with all of his Captain America films, include “Snowpiercer,” “The Losers,” “Fantastic Four” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”
“I have always been able to work,” Evans says. “Some of the movies are not huge films but it has never been too long without me having a job. I think most actors have to fight through not getting jobs until they have spent a few years in Hollywood.
“I was lucky and got a warm reception so I never debated whether I should have gone with another career.”
Evans has always enjoyed the support of family to chase his dream of an acting career.
That support has continued to be important to Evans as his association with so many successful films in the Marvel Universe has given him a massive following of fans. He knows family and friends will be there for support.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Evans says.