Chris Evans has become a household name over the past decade during his run as Captain America. But the action star almost didn’t play the all-American superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He recently revealed that he nearly quit acting due to severe anxiety, which was exacerbated by the magnitude of the iconic blockbuster franchise.

The 38-year-old said on The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast Awards Chatter that it began around the time Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer premiered in 2007. It didn’t help that he was passed over for roles in Gone Baby Gone, Milk, Elizabethtown and Fracture.

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He also referenced his 2007 Danny Boyle film Sunshine going unnoticed, as he joked: “Nobody sees my good movies.” Evans then recalled filming Puncture in 2010: “It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set.

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.

The added pressure of a nine-film deal, big payday and inevitable fame almost made him pass on the role of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) in the MCU.

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He turned down opportunity to test multiple times, even when the salary went up and contract was reduced to six films. The Bostonian was then offered the part outright, over which he consulted with Robert Downey Jr, with whom he shared an agent.

He continued: “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. To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.

Evans ultimately went on to appear as the patriotic hero in 11 of the Avengers films, since debuting in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. 

He also reflected on landing another Marvel role as Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch) in the 2005 film Fantastic Four: “That was back when the superhero thing was just taking off. I had just been dumped and I needed it!

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The Knives Out star recently thanked real-life heroes on the PBS National Memorial Day Concert, along with George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow and more. 

Evans can currently be seen as an assistant DA whose son is charged with murder in the crime drama miniseries Defending Jacob, the finale available Friday on Apple TV+.