Chris Evans has battled Doctor Doom, Galactus, the Red Skull and Loki, but now he’s about to tackle his biggest challenge yet: Broadway. The Avengers star will be helping the Second Stage Theatre reopen the recently renovated Helen Hayes Theatre by starring in a production of Oscar-winning writer Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero. Evans will be starring opposite Michael Cera, who ironically starred in a parody of Captain America at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con. The ambitious opening is sure to sell out, so if you want to see what all the buzz is about, be sure to buy your tickets or enter a ticket lottery.
Evans might be billed as the First Avenger, but he’s not the first Avenger to star on stage. Here’s a look at three of his fellow cast members who have tried their hand at theater.
Like Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo got his start on the New York stage scene from Kenneth Lonergan. Prior to this, Ruffalo had been active in theater in Los Angeles, where he cofounded the Orpheus Theatre Company and wrote, directed and starred in several plays. But his break came when he met Lonergan and began collaborating with him, which led to a role in Lonergan’s 1996 Off-Broadway production This Is Our Youth, a play serendipitously featuring comic books as props. (In another fortuitous foreshadowing, Chris Evans’ future costar Michael Cera would later play Ruffalo’s role.)
His work with Lonergan launched Ruffalo into Hollywood prominence when he starred in Lonergan’s Oscar-nominated 2000 film You Can Count on Me. Ruffalo returned to the stage in 2006, starring in Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing! A subsequent accident involving gamma radiation propelled him to superhero status, but Ruffalo has never lost his love for the stage. This year he premiered on Broadway in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Price, filling in for John Turturro, who had to pull out due to a film commitment, says Roundabout Theatre Company.
Avengers nemesis Tom Hiddleston has perhaps enjoyed the greatest stage success of any Avengers cast member. While still studying at Cambridge, he attracted the attention of an agent for his role in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. He began starring in TV roles before he graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2005. He began starring in both film and stage roles in the next year, and his role in a 2007 production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline won him a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Newcomer in a Play. He went on to star in Othello, Ivanov and The Children’s Monologues before landing his famous role as the evil God of Mischief Loki in the 2011 release of Thor.
Since then, Hiddleston has made a career of making life miserable for the thunder god, starring in The Avengers and two Thor sequels, with two forthcoming Avengers sequels in the works. Meanwhile, he managed to continue his stage career, starring in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, which earned him a nomination for Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and won him the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor. Hiddleston says he loves the silver screen, but he plans to return to the theater soon to maintain a diverse career and get back to his roots, writes the Evening Standard.
Cobie Smulders is better known as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, but she was on stage before she was an Avengers cast member. Hill studied acting in high school before trying modeling and considering marine biology, but she decided to give acting lessons a chance first. After appearing in some TV roles in shows such as Jeremiah, Smallville, and The L Word, she joined the cast of an Off-Broadway production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Playbill says.
Smulders soon joined the cast of Avengers, which so far has won her recurring roles in three sequels and a TV spinoff, along with a role doing Wonder Woman’s voice in The Lego Movie. She’s also starred in other TV series and films, winning an EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy for How I Met Your Mother. Meanwhile, this year she’s also been honored with a Theatre World Award for her Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, which opened at the St. James Theatre on April 5, the Observer reports.