Chris Evans Was Predictably Self-Deprecating About His Directorial Debut

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Photo: Ernesto Distefano/2014 Getty Images

Before We Go, a micro-budget indie that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, tells the story of two strangers, played by Chris Evans and Alive Eve, who spend a romantic night roaming New York City after one of them misses the last train out of Grand Central. The movie’s director is Evans himself, and it’s a clear departure from the action-oriented fare he’s primarily associated with. “I like movies that kind of capture little moments,” explained the first-time director during a Q&A at the screening. “I like simple relationship stories: brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. Things that we can all relate to that, on a grand scheme, may not be too profound, but if shot correctly — that’s the beauty of film — can make little moments epic.”

Taking on a dialogue-heavy, Before Sunrise–esque narrative that follows a relationship’s crescendo across a single day as his first directing project might not line up with the actor’s most visible work, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Evans. For a long time, he has publicly expressed his contempt for the film business and his frustration with his trajectory as an actor, going so far as to announce that he would be quitting acting at the end of his Marvel contract (a statement he later retracted). On the red carpet, he explained why he chose Before We Go for his first film. “I’ve wanted to direct for a long time and this story felt manageable,” he said. “It’s embarrassing to say that, but because it’s my first time directing and I've never been to film school, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. This felt like a healthy first attempt.”

Eve acknowledged that she could sometimes “feel his nerves” during filming. “But,” she said, “by the end he was confident — very open, very collaborative. He was very, very good to work with.” Others may be doing that soon: Evans claimed to be “addicted to directing now” and expressed his satisfaction with how much more collaborative the directing process was. “Acting is great but really it’s a very small piece of the puzzle,” he said. “As an actor, it’s wonderfully fulfilling but you’re one piece of the puzzle, and it’s not very tangible. As a director you actually get to make something and build something. [There’s] something fantastic about making things — showing things to people, sharing what you’ve worked on, collaborating, and getting feedback. And the process of creativity when it incorporates the other is so much more satisfying. Acting always felt a little bit like an island.”