After working a whipped-cream bikini in the 2001 spoof Not Another Teen Movie, Chris Evans fried phone lines in Cellular and melted hearts as The Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films. Next seen as a telekinetic troublemaker in February’s sci-fi thriller Push, the 27-year-old revisits his steamiest photo shoot and outs his even hotter gay brother.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: This may come as quite a shock, but gay men enjoy you.
Chris Evans: I was well aware of that. I remember my mother saying, “Chris, do you know you’re #2 on some gay list [AfterElton.com’s Hot 100]. Brad Pitt is #12!” I was like, “What?!” I couldn’t believe it.
That was 2007. I hate to break bad news, but you dropped to #8 in ’08.
Aww, that’s outrageous! Who took my spot?
I forget, but Jake Gyllenhaal was #1 for both years.
What? Jake? Unacceptable. [Laughs]
It couldn’t hurt to play a gay role next.
I really wanted to be a part of Milk, but I lost out to James Franco. I guess if you’ve got to lose, he’s the guy to lose to. I did a movie called Fierce People where I played a sociopath who wasn’t gay, but he does rape a teenage boy. You come to find out he didn’t do it for sexual reasons; he just did it because he could. He really was a sick character.
I’ve actually got an idea for a gay musical sequel to Cellular called Blackberry Storm. You in?
Absolutely. Sounds like a nailbiter.
I hear there might also be a queer subtext in Push.
Yes, those with powers try to keep it under wraps. They’re being hunted by the government, so everyone’s trying to lay low. Now I understand the gay man’s struggle. [Laughs]
What’s the status of your Tennessee Williams film, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, about a 1920’s Memphis debutante?
We took it to the Toronto Film Festival looking for distribution, and it does not look like that’s going to happen. I don’t know if there’s really a market for a Tennessee Williams film. It would’ve been a tough film to distribute and make money back, so it’s probably going to remain in limbo and possibly come out one day on DVD.
Do you blame Lindsay Lohan, who was originally set to star before Bryce Dallas Howard took over?
[Laughs] No, not at all. To be honest, Bryce was phenomenal in the movie. It’s a shame that people won’t get to see her performance.
Let’s discuss your sexy, now-infamous 2004 Flaunt magazine photo shoot — and why you seem more hesitant to flaunt your physique.
I really didn’t think twice about taking my shirt off at the time, but my current publicist would pull her hair out if I did that photo shoot today. If I got to a photo shoot and they said, “OK, we’re going to do some shirtless shots,” I’d say, “Fine. No big deal.” It never really occurred to me that that could be misinterpreted as a bad thing or as selling out.
Do you think those photos hurt you?
I couldn’t care less, and I don’t think it makes one lick of difference. But I hired my publicist for her professional opinion, and she seems to think it’s a mistake. I have no problem taking my shirt off for a role if the part calls for it, but my publicist says, “When you’re promoting yourself, being you, there’s a way to keep it as classy as possible. Greasing yourself up and stripping down may not be the best way to do it.” To some degree, she may have a point. But at the end of the day, it didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now. Maybe I dropped to #8 because I haven’t had enough shirtless photo shoots lately. I’m blaming my publicist. [Laughs]
When you need an ego boost, do you ever watch the Chris Evans tribute videos on YouTube?
No, I just call my mother. When you’re feeling depressed, you talk to her for 20 minutes and you think your shit doesn’t stink. And you can quote me on that.
I read on PerezHilton.com that your younger brother Scott is gay.
Yes, I do have a gay brother. I’m down with the gays. Mostly I’m hanging out with him and his gay buddies, who are fucking hilarious. They’re the funniest people I know.
Do they take you to gay bars?
They’ve invited me out to gay bars before, and I said, “Look, guys, I’ve got to draw the line there.” That’s where a photo will get taken, it will run in magazines, and before you know it, I’ll be living down the gay rumor for the rest of my life.
Does your brother look anything like you?
He does, but he’s about an inch taller and about four shades tanner than I am. He’s a very fit young man. Believe me, he does quite well for himself.
How did he come out to you?
He was really nervous. He came out to all of us very slowly. His first year at NYU, he came out to our mother and our sister, and then he came out to me a little later. I was driving him back to New York City for school. We spent the whole day together, got to the city, had some beers in my hotel room, got into a really great talk, and he came out. I was so glad that he did. That’s got to be a difficult transition, but I come from the most liberal household you have ever heard of. And for some reason, gay men are just drawn to my mother. She’s a cool chick. I think, like, six men have come out to her. I guess they just feel so comfortable with her, and before you know it, they’re coming out of the closet. I think my mother was praying for us to be gay, so at least she got one of us.
Growing up, when was the first time you realized that you weren’t gay?
When I had a crush on my babysitter, who lived with us for a few years. I must’ve been 10 or 11. I was just head-over-heels in love with her. I thought she was the greatest thing in the world. Then I had a really big crush on Kim Cattrall in Mannequin. I was in love with her too.
In May 2008, you were photographed wearing a T-shirt with an image of two girls making out. Was that your way of showing support for gay marriage?
My buddy owns a clothing line in L.A, and that’s one of the T-shirts that he makes. To be completely honest, I threw it on without really taking a close enough look at it. On that day I ended up getting photographed at a clothing store — which rarely happens to me — and then on the way home, I get in a car accident. So I’m dealing with police, the ambulance, taking down names and numbers, all while wearing a shirt with two women tonguing each other. It was a rough day. As for gay marriage, it’s mindboggling and appalling that human beings are being denied civil rights in this country. But time will heal all. I have to believe that in 10 years we won’t be having this conversation. We’ll be having another one, because we’ll always find someone to persecute.
2008 was arguably the Year of the Man-crush. Who was yours?
My buddies always tell me that I have a man-crush on Brad Pitt. What can I say? The guy’s great. I think he’s a great fuckin’ actor, and he’s versatile as all hell. I’ve never seen a movie I didn’t like him in. So I guess he’s my man-crush.
When I interviewed Milo Ventimiglia for The Advocate, he told me about performing “I Will Survive” in drag for the short-lived 2000 TV series Opposite Sex. He failed to mention that you were one of his two backup dancers.
[Laughs] I’ll tell you the worst part. Milo and Kyle [Howard] look like the ugliest transvestites in the world; meanwhile, I think I pass! I look like an alright-looking woman! It was horrible walking from the makeup trailer to the set. I was ogled, getting catcalls, and being sized-up. It was very demeaning. I could definitely relate to what women must go through.
Have you done drag since?
No. Unless you want to count the blue tights in Fantastic Four.
By the way, “flame on!” was typically reserved for flamboyant homosexuals before you stole it as your Fantastic Four catchphrase.
Sorry, guys. Well, you knocked me down to #8. I had to steal something.
The Advocate, February 2009; extended online version.