Chris Evans Said Panic Attacks Almost Ended His Acting Career

Emily Dixon
Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin - Getty Images

From Marie Claire

  • Chris Evans appeared on the latest episode of the Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast.
  • Evans spoke about experiencing severe anxiety and "mini panic attacks" while on set, which led him to consider quitting acting.
  • Afraid he'd be unable to handle astronomical fame, he repeatedly turned down auditions for the role of Captain America.

Anxiety, if you'll excuse my language, is a real asshole. And it's an asshole that targets anyone it so desires, including lovely angel Chris Evans, who spoke about the destructive impact it had on his acting career during an appearance on the Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast.

Evans began experiencing anxiety around 2007, he explained, and by 2010, when he was filming indie movie Puncture, the illness had become severe. "It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set," he said. "I really started to think, 'I'm not sure if this [acting] is the right thing for me, I'm not sure if I'm feeling as healthy as I should be feeling.'"

When Marvel first offered him the opportunity to test for the role of Captain America—initially demanding a nine-movie deal—he turned it down, afraid the inevitable fame would render his anxiety unmanageable. "My suffering would my own," Evans explained. He turned the opportunity down again and again, despite higher salary offers and a decreased commitment to only six movies.

Evans reconsidered when Marvel offered him the role outright, he recalled. He spoke to his therapist, friends, and family—and Robert Downey Jr., already a Marvel star at the time. "It was the best decision I've ever made, and I really owe that to [Marvel chief] Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake," he said. "To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition."

Further support came in the form of Chris Hemsworth, who was also relatively new to the fame game at the time. "It was nice having Chris Hemsworth around because he was going through it, too. I mean, at the time Downey's Downey and Scarlett's Scarlett [Johansson]. And [Mark] Ruffalo and [Jeremy] Renner, at the time, were crushing it, too," Evans said. "Hemsworth and I were very new and we also had the stand-alones and so I think we shared in our anxiety, and at least that made it a little bit more comforting."

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