Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson sat down for a chat for "Variety Studio: Actors on Actors ." For more, pick up the Actors on Actors issue on Nov. 12, tune into PBS SoCal on Jan. 2 or Stay tuned right here at Variety.com.
When Scarlett Johansson sees Chris Evans at our photo shoot, she lets out a shriek of joy. It's as if it's a long-lost relative, and Johansson and Evan's "The Perfect Score," a romantic duet on "The Nanny Diaries" and went Johansson plays an actor suffering through a difficult divorce in Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story , "And a mother in Holocaust Germany" in Taika Waititi's satirical "Jojo Rabbit." Evans, from the virtuous Captain America, is the snobbish grandson of a famous novelist in Rian Johnson's tantalizing murder mystery "Knives Out."
Chris Evans : I just did not see "Marriage Story," and it's phenomenal. I'll be shocked if you're not showered with awards, but what do you want to tell that story? It's heavy. It's dark.
Scarlett Johansson : Probably 1
Well, there goes that relationship before, where you feel like. "That's Never Happened to You?"
Evans : No.
Johansson : Yeah, right. I was so surprised when he called me years later to meet and talk about something. It totally came out of the blue. I'm with him in New York, and he's been in the middle of a divorce , It was such a strange coincidence.
Evans : [Johansson] : It was nothing. It was just a concept.
Evans : Wow! Did you have input? Because one of the things that is so tragic about it is, when you think of a divorce story, you imagine much more contentious, prickly, almost enemies.
Johansson : When I received the script, we talked so much about our relationships – and what it like to be single parents, and our families – and all that stuff. It's complicated, right?
Evans : It's heartbreaking.
Johansson : I know even when we were doing all of the "Endgame" and "Infinity War" stuff, you were prepping for "Knives Out" already.
Evans : Yeah. We were doing the reshoots for those last couple of bits. I do not know if you were there. You were so in and out, because you died. If you have not seen it –
Johansson : Maybe too bad! I was talking to Noah while we were doing "Infinity War" and "Endgame" stuff. Those were things for me to hold on to during those often tedious days of whatever.
Evans : There's a lot of things about those movies where it's not just the actual filmmaking process. It's very start, stop, start, stop with bits and pieces of the action. Plus, it's been a really long time, really familiar. No disrespect to those movies – I just love these movies – but there's a complete different approach to finding a character to collaborate with other artists, it's just unchartered waters coming off a Marvel movie.
Johansson : How does it work with Rian?
Evans : He's wonderful. He knows what he wants. I love the idea of writer-director combos, because when people read a piece of material, we all have a subjective opinion on what to interpret. When you have a writer-director, they can say: "No, this is exactly what I meant." Rian is very task attuned.
Johansson : Really?
Evans : Which, as an actor, you're terrified, because if you give me 50 takes , I'll take them.
Johansson : How come you do not ask for more?
Evans : It takes a couple of days to get comfortable on set to do that. Johansson : That's a funny way to look at it.
Johansson  ] Evans : Yeah. It's a really insecure, egoic way of looking at it.
Johansson : I feel like you have an idea for something, and that's probably good advice for that actor in film, you should ask for another take.
Evans : Sure.
Johansson : Noah is in stark contrast to Rian. He's relentless, and you can do 50 takes. He only uses one camera, and he's very specific about the words are the words. Every hesitation, every unfinished sentence,
Evans : Nothing is improvised in that movie?
Johansson : Not a single word
Evans : You guys both need Oscars, because I like it, "Oh, this is improvised." It's like theater.
Johansson : It totally was like theatre.  Evans : It's like you're my only actor friend that actually came to see the play [2018’s Broadway revival of “Lobby Hero”].
Johansson : They paid me.
Evans : Yup.
Johansson : Were you nervous before you did it?
Evans : Terrified. After a while, the process of filmmaking does not get stale. You just want to try and find a new way into what has become very familiar. I think what I've been hunting for that prolonged period of time in a scene, thinking it would allow this liberation. It could not have been more on the contrary. When you're onstage it's just like, "Man!"
Johansson : I did not feel that way watching you though.
Evans : Original content, it's not there very often. That's one of the best things about "Knives Out." It was something that I read that felt fresh and new. I think this weird chicken-and-the-egg thing, who started it? Did audiences only start going to lowbrow stuff, so that's what we started making? Or is it that we first offered it?
Johansson : Hey, speak for yourself. Marvel universe and big blockbusters are really, like, "despicable" and "the death." It's interesting, because a couple of extremely esteemed directors have been there of cinema. "At first I thought that seems child of old-fashioned, and somebody had to explain to me, because it seemed so disappointing and sad in a way. They said, "I think what are these people saying is the actual theater, there's a lot of room for different kinds of movies, or smaller movies, because the theater is taken up by huge blockbusters."
Evans : I think original content inspires creative content. I think new stuff is what keeps the creative wheel rolling. I just believe there's room at the table for all of it. It's like saying a certain type of music is not music.  Johansson : What are you looking for now?
Evans : Every couple of months, I decide I'm done acting. This has been my thing for decades now. I'm looking for a way out, but I do love it. I think TV right now, those creative minds are given a bit more freedom. It feels like movies sometimes get inundated with studio notes, and all of a sudden, what is going on is getting down to the lowest common denominator, and then you have no one's favorite movie but everyone's lukewarm movie.
Johansson : When I read the script for "Jojo Rabbit," I never saw anything like it before. But that movie found its way through Fox Searchlight. That studio does not shy away from stuff that's subversive, and they're happy to give it a theatrical release. There's room for independent film for sure. I think people want diversity. They want to see different things.
What I'm curious about: You're kind of looking at a director, if there's anything that continues to interest you? Where's your head with that stuff?
Evans : I'm trying to direct, but I do not have the courage or focus to write. The hardest thing is finding material. The good material is not just sitting there untouched. It's tough to find. When I directed, one of the tricky things, I found a little broken-bird script, and I thought, "Oh, I can nurse this thing back to health." In retrospect, I think the best version of the movie I directed, there may have been a ceiling based on the material.
You know what I'm curious about? Scarlett, what was it like meeting for the first time? What's it like working with me? Be nice.
Johansson : I'm trying to remember. It has been "The Perfect Score" at some point in our rehearsal. We had a very scary teen comedy, that's what it is now, maybe somehow relevant – about SAT scandal.
Evans : It was almost 20 years ago.
Johansson : Yeah, it feels like a long time ago.
Evans : I think we all went out one night and
Johansson : Because I was 17. Yup, those were the days. You've always been looking for a great actor. You were great then, and so incredibly photogenic, and you just came on screen in a way that's very uncommon. It was so nice to work with you, because I felt we had great chemistry as actors, and there was a naturalistic approach that I felt. Then we got to work together on "The Nanny Diaries."
Evans : Having "Avengers" the greatest movie of all time –
Johansson : Is it the biggest movie of all time? Wow. We really need to go on vacation.
Evans : We've been trying to organize this "Avengers" vacation. We deserve a little victory lap. It's not just wonderful because you've come to the same thing as "Star Wars" impacted me. Johansson : It's funny because I remember back in "Iron Man 2" days, I just finished filming the first "Cap." It was so interesting that you and I were coming together again. We had no idea what we were making. The Marvel Cinematic Universe or "The Avengers" would be. You jump on the chance, but having been through it myself with a partner that I was with, who had another big iconic superhero thing he was working on, it's the pressure. You do not know how it's going to go, right? It seems ridiculous now, but it could be career-ending.
Evans : Yeah. I feel like a part of something like that. It wants to be one of my treasured memories of life. Even when we went to do "Avengers," the first one, I think everybody is feeling very uneasy about the concept. It was just so absurd. It was a big endeavor.
Johansson : Were you shocked by how well the first "Avengers" did?
[PleaseNotice:Thisisanautomaticallytranslatedarticle! Evans : After that, I knew there was a chance this could be something big.
Johansson : Would you come back?
Evans : To Marvel? Wow. Everything clicks when I get up. Recovery is not the same. You never say never. I love the character. I do not know.
Johansson : Not a hard no.
Evans : It's not hard, but it's not an eager yes either. There are other things that I'm working on right now. I think Cap was looking for a tricky act to drive the landing, and I think they did a really nice job. If you're going to revisit it, it can not be a cash grab. It can not be just because the audience wants to be excited. What are we revealing? What are we adding to the story? Johansson : It's not obvious.
Evans : It does not feel that time, that would be a thing.
Johansson : I was not there for the last third of the film or whatever. I actually had no idea what was going to happen. I did not know how it worked, exactly, if it was scripted. It was such a beautiful cathartic ending, and I loved that for Steve. I think he deserved that. It was all his happiness.
Evans : It would be a shame to sour that. I'm very protective of it. It was such a precious time, and jumping onto the movie was a terrifying prospect to me. I said it was a bunch of times, and there's a million and one ways it could have gone wrong. It almost feels like maybe we should let this one sit.