Former superhero Chris Evans is in a new groove during the pandemic: He’s setting his sights on politics.
The actor (or Captain America, ahem), has devoted himself to launching his new website, A Starting Point, which aims to create a bridge for the public and elected officials on wide swath of issues, from reopening the economy amid COVID-19 to mail-in voting. In addition to encouraging Democrats and Republicans to (civilly) debate each other, the site invites elected officials to upload their views on hot topics – often in a minute or less – in a video feature called Daily Points.
USA TODAY’s Andrea Mandell caught up with the actor Thursday, when he popped up on Zoom from his Boston-area home (where he’s been quarantining with his dog, Dodger) as President Obama was eulogizing John Lewis. Evans, 39, opens up about proving to members of Congress that he was the real deal, why he’s never had a Finsta and how he’s prepping to go mano a mano with Ryan Gosling in his next big action movie.
USA TODAY: Hi! Hang on, I will pause President Obama.
Chris Evans: I know that voice, man.
USA TODAY: First things first: How is your cute dog Dodger recovering from his surgery?
Evans: He’s very good. I took the cone off for a little bit just to give him a break and he’s hanging in there. (He had) hip replacement surgery. He’s already trotting, which I’m trying to stop, but yeah, he’ll be OK.
USA TODAY: You hit Capitol Hill quite a few times to get politicians to participate in A Starting Point, which sees them engage in debates on big issues like voting rights, making college affordable and bank regulation. How does a Hollywood meeting differ from a meeting on the Hill?
Evans: You certainly feel that they don’t need much from you: they’re busy, you’re lucky that they carve some time out for you. They’re not being rude or disrespectful, but they certainly seem like their schedule is packed. And so you really try to get what you need as soon as you can and then …
Hey, Dodge! (Evans calls out to his dog off camera.) No, no, no. He’s licking his wound. (Warning tone) Don’t do that bud, the cone is going to go back on.
In Hollywood meetings, they typically make you feel very unique and special and they try to really (butter) you up a little bit. And in D.C. I think they’re a little bit more direct. But it’s nice! It feels more authentic.
USA TODAY: The website relies on politicians being willing to participate. Would you say more Democrats have been saying yes than Republicans so far?
Evans: Oddly enough, out of the gate, we had a lot more Republicans. (Since then) to be honest it’s been kind of split down the middle.
USA TODAY: Who’s your dream political guest for A Starting Point?
Evans: I’d love the man that was just speaking, giving the (John Lewis) eulogy. But that’s a tall order.
USA TODAY: You’ve long had a Twitter account, but you joined Instagram in April, around the time you were originally going to launch the site. Are you into it? Did you ever have a Finsta prior?
Evans: What’s a Finsta?
USA TODAY: Like a fake Instagram account, an undercover handle.
Evans: Oh, no, I didn’t. I usually just did Twitter. No Finsta. Then I did Instagram just truly for this site. My team just said, ‘Look, Chris, I know you’re not an Instagram guy, but that’s where everybody is, it has a lot of young people that you’d be a fool to not use it.’ I don’t spend much time on it, to be honest, reading comments and things like that. Even Twitter, I used to spend time reading responses and even that’s gone away. You’re never glad that you read the comment. You’re never like, ‘Man, I’m glad I spent some time reading those horrible things.’ I think I’ve just grown past the urge to look.
USA TODAY: The site seems to be taking a hands-off approach to monitoring what politicians say and flagging misinformation. How are you planning to handle that moving forward?
Evans: We do have fact checkers. We outsourced to a company called Countable for the first section, Starting Points. So if you’re looking for information that is actually vetted, we have that. (For other sections), that will be too hard to stay afloat in terms of fact-checking. It’s incumbent upon (politicians) to be honest, the way they would in any other platform.
USA TODAY: Do you feel a little bit freer to wade into politics now that your time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is over?
Evans: Uh, no. I was pretty vocal, even when I was doing the MCU stuff. I wasn’t shy about it. I’ve never really pitted my professional life against what I felt passionate about if I think it’s worth speaking (about). If I think there’s something I can do to help or shine a light on an issue that deserves attention, I’ll do it.
USA TODAY: Are you back to work yet? You were in London recently.
Evans: No – aside from the website, which is probably been more work than I’ve ever done on any movie set. There was some work things over there, but no, I’m not filming anything. People are still taking meetings. We’re doing a lot of talking about work, about when work will get up and going.
USA TODAY: Speaking of, news just dropped that you’re starring in the big-budget Netflix espionage thriller “The Gray Man” opposite Ryan Gosling, which will reunite you with your ‘Avengers: Endgame’ directors, the Russo brothers. Would you say you’re in fighting shape right now, or more like quarantine shape?
Evans: Quarantine has actually lended itself nicely to getting in fighting shape. There’s nothing else to do. I, like most people, when in quarantine happened was like, ‘Oh, I should order some weights online.’ And apparently every single weight in the United States of America was purchased, and to try and just get a couple of dumbbells would take six months. So it’s been a lot of Rocky-type workouts of lifting just heavy objects around my house.
USA TODAY: I, too, tried to order weights and was sent one. Of a pair.
Evans: That exact thing happened to me! I waited like six weeks for these weights and then one showed up. I was like, are you kidding me? So depressing.
USA TODAY: How are you handling any stress or anxiety during this time?
Evans: Quarantine itself is not that unfamiliar to me. I never leave my house, anyway. The stress of COVID in general and the country and politics is pretty much tangled up in the website for me. So when I feel the anxiety connected to those things, I immediately try to channel it into the site, because I do think in a way the site can create participation and help mitigate the sense of helplessness.
That’s the real core of the stress, in my opinion. There’s always been challenging times in the world, and it feels overwhelming when it feels like there’s nothing you can do. The stress turns into apathy, and that’s dangerous; that has some real pernicious downstream effects.
USA TODAY: Are you using that kitchen behind you for quarantine cooking? How are your cooking skills?
Evans: Ah, terrible. But my brother was out here for a little while during quarantine, and his cooking skills are fantastic. I’m actually trying to get him to come back out because I need a home cooked meal.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Evans on his new political website and next Ryan Gosling movie