Luke Evans: Being in a movie musical is a dream come true
You'd never imagine that Hollywood action man Luke Evans' dream would be to sing in a movie musical.
"I've been waiting for quite a long time to finally have an opportunity to do that," the 37-year-old Welsh actor, who plays vain villain Gaston in Beauty And The Beast, told The New Paper over the phone from Beijing, where he is promoting the movie.
Evans, who began his showbiz career in London's West End productions, including Rent and Miss Saigon, added that playing a light-hearted character is also a departure from his usual "intense, dark and heavy roles", like in The Hobbit movies (2013, 2014), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Dracula Untold (2014) and last year's The Girl On The Train.
"I've always wanted to do a family film because I have a lot of children and god-children in my family, and they don't get a chance to see my movies. This is a film they finally can come to watch."
Evans' Gaston is the "arrogant, self-absorbed and narcissistic" village hero who wants Belle to himself.
"I loved the original film. I was 12 years old when the animation came out. I was from a little village in South Wales.
"My mum and I went to the cinema to watch it, and I remembered coming out of the cinema already humming the tunes," he recalled.
He shared how his mother bought the movie's soundtrack, which led to him playing the CD over and over again "because the songs are so memorable".
"The music is very special and captivating, and the movie transports you to a different place, and that's the magic of Disney."
Evans said he and director Bill Condon worked together on Gaston's backstory.
He said: "(Gaston) is quite an unlikable character, and he's not a nice person.
"So my challenge was to make people like him a little bit at the beginning of the film, and then see the kind of monster he turns into at the end... I don't want people to hate him right from the start. I want people to laugh at him."
Preparing for the role meant re-watching the 26-year-old animation with his young god-children before his audition.
While Evans never had a chance to appear in the Beauty And The Beast Broadway productions since its inception in 1994, he shared how the film's premiere in London on Feb 23 was akin to that of a live stage performance.
"We had a screening at London's Odeon Leicester Square, and about 3,000 people turned up for it. When we got to the end of Gaston's song, everyone clapped like it was a theatrical performance," said Evans.
"It was such a great feeling that people connected with the film... that was the first applause of many throughout the (screening)."
He added: "I never experienced that before. It was very special."