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Joe Russo Reveals Why Chris Evans Was Cast As The Bad Guy In The Gray Man - Exclusive

To legions of Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, Chris Evans will always be Captain America. Evans left an indelible impression in the role, and after almost 10 years of embodying the noble supersoldier, it's easy to understand why moviegoers aren't quick to let go of the association. Two of the people responsible for Evans becoming synonymous with Cap are directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who started their MCU careers helming "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War" before moving on to "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame." Their work on all four films enabled Evans to show the breadth of Cap's capabilities while establishing him as the MCU's most honorable superhero.

However, since leaving the MCU, Evans hasn't been content to rest on his laurels. He's taken on an eclectic grab bag of roles: Some have played on his Captain America persona, like the title character in "Lightyear" or assistant D.A. Andy Barber in "Defending Jacob," and some are the complete opposite of Cap, like the entitled, selfish Ransom Drysdale in "Knives Out." In his latest film, "The Gray Man," Evans plays Lloyd Hansen, a former CIA agent who's determined to take out Ryan Gosling's rogue operative no matter how many people he has to kill to do it. 

The character is about as opposite of Captain America as it's possible to get, yet once again the people responsible for ushering Evans' brutal, dynamic, and surprisingly amusing performance to the screen are Anthony and Joe Russo. Looper sat down with the directing duo to find out why they felt Evans was a good fit for the role of a murderous villain after directing him to superheroic glory in four films.

The Russos felt Evans was 'perfect' for his role in The Gray Man

The Russo brothers spent years working with Chris Evans in the MCU, turning the actor's Captain America into one of the franchise's most beloved superheroes — so it's hard to fathom how Evans became their choice to play the unnerving, mustachioed antagonist in "The Gray Man." But Joe Russo explained that the idea came from Evans himself.

"We were working with him on 'Endgame' and talking casually about where you're going to go from here, what you want to do next. He said, 'I'm really blessed and fortunate in my career that I'm in a great place now and I want to take risks for the rest of my career,'" Russo revealed. "We're working on this character [in 'Gray Man'] talking about, 'Wow, we really need somebody of great physical prowess and great acting ability who can play a very threatening agent of chaos.' We thought, 'Well, this could be perfect for Evans.'"

In fact, Joe Russo noted that working with Evans in the MCU made them acutely aware of the actor's impressive range. "He's nothing like Captain America in real life," Russo shared. "He's very energetic and charismatic and funny. He's not understated and quiet the way that Cap is. We thought, ["The Gray Man"] could be a lot of fun to let him chew the scenery and play this really colorful villain.'"

"The Gray Man" is currently playing in select theaters and will stream on Netflix beginning on July 22.