Chris Evans Said His Severe Anxiety and Panic Attacks Almost Ended His Acting Career

During an appearance on the Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast, Chris Evans said his severe anxiety almost caused him to quit acting.

los angeles, california april 22 chris evans attends the world premiere of walt disney studios motion pictures avengers endgame at los angeles convention center on april 22, 2019 in los angeles, california photo by axellebauer griffinfilmmagic
(Image credit: Jon Kopaloff)
  • 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 (opens in new tab), who spoke about the destructive impact it had on his acting career during an appearance on the Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab)'s "Awards Chatter" podcast (opens in new tab).

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.

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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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Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.