That gruesome image is courtesy of Chris Evans, the handsome actor best known for playing Captain America, the superhero dedicated to defending American ideals.
His new film The Iceman co-stars Michael Shannon as real-life Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski. Evans plays his mentor Robert ‘Mr. Softee’ Pronge, a vicious killer who out-psychos the psychotic main character.
“No villain thinks he’s the villain,” he says. “They don’t think, ‘I’m the bad guy,’ so you can’t approach it thinking you’re bad. You have to (examine) what part of our brains stops us from doing these things.”
To play Pronge, who ran his business out of an ice cream truck, the actor had to explore his own dark side.
“I may be revealing too much,” he says, “but on a daily basis I can’t tell you how many times I think, ‘What if I just did this right now?’ — jerked the wheel into traffic or walked off this building. On a daily basis your brain tells you what not to do, so you have to imagine that for a real sociopath that voice holds no water in their brain.
“(As an actor) you kind of just start liberating yourself of all restraint and it starts getting really fun. You come to set and think, ‘I’m going to do whatever I want. Say whatever I want to say. Act however I want to act and what kind of person will come out of that? How would that person interact?”
Evans, who stepped into the role when James Franco dropped out, had to get under Pronge’s skin to figure out what made him tick.
“I’m sure even Pronge didn’t start out killing somebody,” he says. “He probably started doing something else that was liberating in terms of his social restraint, and then found a liking and became addicted to that sensation and it ultimately became this complete disregard for human life because it was just completely freeing.”
The result is a creepy performance that may shave some of the smooth edges off of Evans’ all-American image.
“I still have strange thoughts,” he says. “I still think the things I think throughout the day but I’d never act on them. At least not now.”