Chris Evans has a line on summer blockbusters. Actually, he has all the good lines.
Just a few years ago as Captain America, he looked at the end of the world and calmly stated, “Avengers assemble.”
And now as the new Buzz in “Lightyear,” in its opening weekend, he is the one who shouts, “To infinity and beyond!”
What trips off the tongue easier? The lanky actor laughs in that commanding way and insists, “As honored as I am to belong to this universe, it almost felt like that line belongs to someone else. Like I was wearing someone’s clothes,” the 41-year-old Bostonian says. “That’s Tim Allen’s line. Personally, at least ‘Avengers assemble’ was mine. I was the first one in the pool.”
“Lightyear” was the title of the movie that inspired young Andy to ask for a Buzz Lightyear toy, thus spanning the “Toy Story” franchise. The origin story revolves around Buzz embarking on an intergalactic trip with a misfit group of ambitious recruits and his robot emotional support companion.
Next up for Evans is July’s Netflix film “The Gray Man” directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (“Infinity Wars,” “Endgame”). Evans teams with Ryan Gosling in the story about CIA operatives and dark agency secrets.
Review-Journal: Buzz is already an iconic movie star, but “Lightyear” reveals new layers. What was new to you about Buzz Lightyear?
Chris Evans: The thing was just getting to explore a character we know so well. This is a much more nuanced interpretation of Buzz than we saw before. He’s obviously still a toy, but we heighten how he can see the world without the weight of worrying or the fear of disease. Also, he doesn’t have to worry about all the repercussions of his choices. All of that makes him fun to play.
What was your relationship to Buzz before you were cast?
Oh man, I loved it. It’s dear to me because it reminds me of my childhood and earlier chapter. I loved Buzz Lightyear because I was a huge “Toy Story” fan. I saw it when it first came out and loved how those movies really kicked the doors down in an approach to this new medium with Pixar. I was thrilled to know there was always more to come.
The theme of the film is the burdens we take on in our lives — how we blame ourselves for things that can be beyond our control. How did that resonate with you?
I think it resonates with everyone. We all make mistakes in life. You want to do the right thing and be the hero, but sometimes life is about lessons. Those are heroic moments, too.
The film also has an emotional support robot cat. But there is a message that we all need something, as does Buzz, to help sort out our emotions.
Buzz is this independent, I don’t need anyone kind of guy. But there’s a glitch in his mission, and he’s gone a long time. He must learn that his mistakes don’t define him. He has to address his feelings of failure. When he returns, he’s given this emotional support cat to address his feelings. It’s therapy. And the message is great because we all need emotional support moments. Buzz needs people or a pet or some kind of sounding board. We all do.
Who supports you emotionally?
I have a real-life Sox the cat in the form of my dog, Dodger. He’s sick of hearing about my problems, believe me.
Any other Disney characters stand out as one you might want to tackle?
I couldn’t pull off another character, but I’m a big fan of the old, animated Robin Hood. He stands alone. I love how he’s smooth, charming and capable. I just don’t have the cool British accent, but I’d love to try to pull it off.
Switching gears … did you always want to act?
It’s funny because my dad is a dentist, and my mom runs a youth theater. But as a kid, I was really into wrestling and lacrosse because my dad was a big athlete in his day. What I loved was working with my mom doing musical theater. I went to acting camp. Anything to get on stage. It felt like home.
Were you that kid who sang for anyone who walked in the house?
There are videos of me with my siblings singing and putting on shows for visitors. In my own defense, I was only 6. But, if you were a cousin or an aunt or uncle, you were getting a seat at the show. The home movies are mortifying.
What do you remember thinking the first time you put on the Captain America suit?
“How lucky am I?” I have the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old in those moments.
Describe a perfect Sunday if you have nothing to do.
I might be out in the woods camping. If I’m home, it’s definitely go for a long walk with Dodger, come home, make some food. If I sneak in a workout, that’s good. And then I come home and turn on a football game and New England is winning. That’s a pretty perfect Sunday.