Getting an indie film made today can be tricky, but it helps if the director has a close connection to, say, one of the Avengers. Chris Evans makes his directorial debut with “Before We Go,” an all-in-one-night tale of a panic-stricken married woman (Alice Eve) stranded in Manhattan and the down-on-his-luck musician (Evans) who tries to help her.
How long had you been looking for a project to direct, and what was it about this one that spoke to you?
I’ve been looking for a few years. It’s tricky on your first one. I wish I could say it was just the project that absolutely captivated me, but to get a project on its feet for a guy who has never directed anything, it’s not going to be so much of which project do you choose as which project chooses you, you know? Some projects are just the little engines that could, and it’s nice to kind of find something that no one else is doing and say, “OK, I’ll get my feet wet with this one.” You’re not going to go get some Aaron Sorkin script your first time out.
Where you prepared for the amount of exterior New York filming this would entail?
Oh yeah, fully prepared. That’s what prep is — everyone pulling their hair out, losing sleep at night, panicking that we’re going to get snowed on or rained on, cops won’t have a good lock up for pedestrians or traffic. You never know what you’re going to run into in terms of the shooting schedule. But I’ve got to be honest, it actually went fairly smoothly. You literally pray every single night for no snow — because we’re shooting in December in New York — but yeah, the weather was kind. How are we going to have a movie that’s supposed to take place in one night, and from one scene to the next all of a sudden we have three feet of snow? “Man, it really came down those 10 minutes we were inside.”
Have you thought already about a follow-up as a director?
Absolutely. I already have my next project. It’s not something I can actually dive into right now, but it still is a bit of a love story — for some reason I’m all hung up on love stories — but it’s a different feel, a different tone. And I’m hoping to shoot it next March.
Wespokeback at thevery firstCaptain America movie. How does it look now, at the other end of it?
Isn’t it so funny? I was so scared of this job. I mean, this is just something my brain does anyway. It just manages to find the worst possible outcome and focus on it, magnify it and only hear it, and that’s all I was doing at the beginning. And in retrospect, my god. The best decision I’ve ever made in my life was signing on board for the Captain America series, because it’s been fantastic. It’s been wonderfully manageable, it’s been a great source of pride — I love the movies they make — and it’s just been an absolute joy.
What about those comments you’d made about not pursuing acting as much going forward and focusing more on directing?
Right. Well, I certainly want to keep the ball rolling. If a good acting job comes along, I’m not going to say no to it, but my priority right now, my passion is still going to be trying to get behind the camera and learn and grow and get better. That’s still a field where I’m very inexperienced, so I’m excited to kind of cultivate that avenue. But in the meantime, if the right project comes along as an actor it’s going to be tough to say no to, and that’s what happened with this next project, “Gifted,” with Marc Webb, so I’m going to go do that in the fall.
Are you planning to direct films you don’t also star in?
Believe me, even with this first movie the trickiest thing was not being able to sit in the director’s chair, but that’s unfortunately part of the deal. To be completely candid, I don’t know that I would get the nod to direct a film if I weren’t in it. That’s part of the deal. You put yourself in it and that helps with the overseas pre-sales. I mean, listen, if I weren’t in the movie and I could somehow get three or four phenomenal actors, great. I would gladly not be in it. But putting yourself in it just makes that hurdle that much more manageable.
Also, having Chris Evans as your lead isn’t the worst thing.
(laughs) And I’m not alone in this struggle. It’s kind of one of the biggest hurdles in Hollywood right now — how do you get a film on its feet? And given this foreign pre-sale model that everyone seems to be going off of and with the Marvel universe at my back, it helps to put me in the film.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick