Power Pairing: Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson

"Yes!"

"You're happy," Scarlett Johansson said, strolling in after Chris Evans, her 32-year-old co-star.

"This is the last one, Scarlett," said Evans laughingly, oblivious to the gathered journalists looking at them.

"For now, until I interview you..."

"So what are you doing for dinner later?" Evans asked Johansson in his own mock interview.

There are many reasons for the US actor to be happy.

For starters, he's back wearing the iconic stars-and-stripes costume as Captain America, aka Steve Rogers.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is now showing in cinemas, follows the super-soldier's life after the massive alien invasion that happened in 2012's The Avengers.

Now working for spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers is still trying to adjust to the modern world when he gets embroiled in a conspiracy that puts the world at risk.

A man stuck in the World War II period, where good and evil is black and white, Rogers struggles with the grey areas of diplomacy and politics - which is where Johansson's character, highly-trained spy Natasha Romanoff aka the Black Widow and Captain America's new sidekick, comes in.

You can say she's the yin to Cap's yang. His morals are strong while hers are questionable. He can't lie, but that's how she makes her living.

The 29-year-old US actress and Evans clearly have a strong chemistry, as evidenced by their playful banter throughout our interview at Park Hyatt Beijing on Monday.

"Chris and I have the good fortune of working together for four films and we've known each other for over 10 years," said Johansson.

"These (action) movies can be tedious to make at times. The hours are long.

"It helps that Chris and I have this familiarity with each other. We're in the same world. We can keep each other going when things seem..." "...never ending," Evans interrupted.

"We have a wonderful friendship, and that naturally goes on-screen," said Johansson.

Johansson and Evans first worked together in The Perfect Score in 2004. Their next collaboration was in The Nanny Diaries (2007), followed by The Avengers.

They will also work together on The Avengers sequel, Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

BUNDLE OF ENERGY

For someone who is reportedly pregnant with her first child with French fiance Romain Dauriac, Johansson was a picture of energy despite having just flown in from London.

The New Yorker even squeezed in time to visit some of Beijing's famous sites such as Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing Street and the Silk Market.

She also indulged in hot pot, her favourite local dish.

Her baby bump was hard to spot but then again, she was wearing loose drawstring pants and had her arms around her belly most of the time.

We were repeatedly warned not to ask Johansson any personal questions as she wouldn't entertain any, but she was more than happy to talk about being the only girl in the movie.

"No, I didn't get any privileges..."

"Nobody cares about her," Evans said, laughing. "Nobody treats her special, and she won't want it."

Johansson added, laughing: "What kind of treatment would I want? Foot massages?"

Directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has all the explosive sequences required of a summer blockbuster.

But it also features several tender moments between Evans and Johansson, scenes that he cherished.

"Quieter moments are not always easier to shoot because you need to tap into your emotional core, but as actors, that's what we hunt for.

"I don't think actors want to always punch, kick and run really fast. That comes with the territory of action films.

"I think we can all relate to a quiet, still moment of human connection than punching a man with a bionic arm. So anytime you can bring out humanity, it's always welcomed."

To think that Evans once considered turning down the offer to play Cap. He's now one of the most recognised stars in the world as well as a budding film-maker - the Boston native even had the opportunity to direct a small romance called 1:30 Train.

"I don't know where I'll be if I've not been a part of the Marvel universe.

"I really never had giant aspirations. I always wanted to direct, to be honest, and I was working towards it... Marvel just helped fast-track that," he said.

He added: "Agreeing to play Captain America was really, without a question, the best decision I've ever made."

He's contracted to another Captain America movie and has two more The Avengers outings to go, Age Of Ultron included.

After that, he is thinking of going behind the camera for a while.

For Johansson, she's hoping to get her own Black Widow spin-off movie as she enjoyed playing a "strong, independent heroine".

"There's always room for (it)," she said, laughing.

"You just need to ask Marvel for it!"

joannes@sph.com.sg


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