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In just a year, Chris Evans has gone from superhero to protective dad.

The actor, known to millions as the heroic Captain America from the blockbuster Marvel films, now plays a very different character: a prosecutor facing murky moral decisions as he tries to shield his son from a murder accusation in Apple TV Plus’s eight-episode “Defending Jacob” (first three episodes now streaming).

Evans, 38, who also played a spoiled playboy heir in last fall’s “Knives Out,” talked to USA TODAY from his Massachusetts home, where he’s abiding by the stay-at-home restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Bay State native talked about a variety of topics, including the appeal of playing a father (for the first time) in the crime thriller/family drama that focuses on suburban Boston prosecutor Andy Barber (Evans); his wife, Laurie (Michelle Dockery), a private school administrator; and their teenage son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell), who is accused of killing a classmate.

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Question: What intrigued you about your “Jacob” character, Middlesex County assistant district attorney Andy Barber?

Chris Evans: I’m fascinated by people who are able to cope with guilt and shame differently. I think certain people who have traumatic childhoods learn early on how to develop a skill set that allows them to compartmentalize guilt. Andy is someone who has done this, and as a result has become a little ossified, a little cloudy, and then is confronted with a circumstance where all of a sudden all that guilt has to be exhumed in a very public forum. 

Q: How did you feel about playing a father for the first time?

Evans: I loved it. I got to think about my relationship with my dad. And it’s actually really pleasant to think about the lengths you’re willing to go to protect your kid, and how that love is so unconditional and maybe a little blinding at times. It’s this weird double-edged sword to explore a love that deep, but it’s also unsettling to realize how far that can make you go and what you’re willing to compromise to preserve that perspective.

Q: What was it like having Jaeden Martell play Andy’s son after he also appeared in “Knives Out” and played a childhood version of you in 2014’s “Playing It Cool?”

Evans: What’s next? I guess we’ll do a remake of “(The Curious Case of) Benjamin Button” (which follows a man who ages in reverse). He’ll be my father. We can kind of swap roles.

One of my first days on the “Knives Out” set, I saw him and said: “Hey, nice to meet you. I think you’re going to play my son (in ‘Jacob’).” And he said, “Yeah, I can’t wait to do this.” And then, once we were on the set of “Defending Jacob” and developed a friendship, he kind of casually one day said, “You know, I actually played the younger version of you in ‘Playing It Cool.'” … I had forgotten. That was so long ago, and it was a small role and he was a little boy at the time. … So, yeah, we’re putting together quite a resumé. 

Q: How important was it that “Jacob” and “Knives” were filmed in your native Massachusetts? 

Evans: Nothing more than a nice perk. I wouldn’t say yes or no to a project based solely on that. But it was certainly a little added bonus when you find out that we’re going to be shooting 10 minutes from my house.

Q: Can you relate to the area at the heart of “Jacob,” which is based on a 2012 novel by Boston native William Landay? 

Evans: Absolutely. I not only know that town, but I know these characters. Some of the people we see in the show are incredibly recognizable to me. The streets, the schools, the police, everything about it just felt very close to home.

Q: Speaking of Massachusetts, what are your thoughts on six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Evans: It had to come to an end one way or another, whether he retired, whether he went somewhere else. I could never begrudge Tom. He gave me 20 years of some of the best sports memories anyone could ever possibly ask for. So if Tom Brady wanted to retire and go to clown college, I’d say, “Great! I wish you all the best.” Tom Brady can do whatever he wants with his career. He’s done more than enough for me.

Q: The coronavirus pandemic has shut down film and TV production. How has it affected the planned launch of A Starting Point, a bipartisan politics website you’re creating to increase civic engagement?

Evans: We had to put the website on the back burner for now. We were going to launch at SXSW (in March), and obviously things happen. Hopefully, I’d like it to be this year, maybe late summer, early fall. We obviously need D.C. to be back up and running again (with) politicians back on the Hill. So we’re in a holding pattern, like so many people are in right now.

Q: You’ve been outspoken about President Donald Trump. How do you think he’s handling the pandemic?

Evans (smiling, as an unseen moderator tries to end the Zoom interview): Oh, you want that sound bite, don’t you? No, you’re not going to get it from me, bud.

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