Stevens returns with a superhero splash
Downton Abbey actor is back in new TV series Legion
In the five years since he left Downton Abbey after being killed off amid a huge fan uproar, Dan Stevens has appeared in a few movies such as Night At The Museum 3 (2014), but none that have made a big splash.
Now he returns to TV in a role that is the biggest departure from the genteel and civilised Matthew Crawley - as a superhero.
In his new television project Legion, the English actor, 34, plays the titular character, aka David Charles Haller, one of the most powerful mutants in X-Men comics history.
Diagnosed as a schizophrenic at a young age, he is confined to a mental hospital and is constantly medicated for hearing voices in his head. There he meets a fellow patient (Rachel Keller playing Syd Barrett), who makes him aware that there is more to his illness than meets the eye.
Oh, and he happens to be the bastard son of Professor X.
The show is created by the Emmy-winning Noah Hawley, the man behind the award-winning series, Fargo.
Legion premieres on Feb 9 on Fox (StarHub TV Channel 505, Singtel TV Channel 330) at 9pm.
How did you prepare to play a schizophrenic?
The main direction I had from Noah was to be as present as possible for all possible realities that are going on in David's world, which are many.
So, in talking to people about this paranoid schizophrenia, the terrifying thing about it is that all of these realities of the person suffering are very real. It's not like, oh this is not normal and now I am in crazy world.
So there's this great confusion for the sufferer as to which one is real. As a performer, you have to commit to all of them.
What do you like best about Haller?
I think it's his wry sense of humour that enables him to cope with almost anything, and he has a lot of things thrown at him.
There's a wit about him. And there's a fierce intelligence there that is corrupted somehow.
What superhero power would you like to have?
Probably the teleporting. I had to come from Dublin today and it would be nice to just teleport right back to Dublin (laughs).
We're also going to see you play the CGI character Beast in the live-action Beauty And Beast. What can you tell us about that movie?
A lot of muscles were required. I was in a muscle suit on stilts for the entire shoot and really, I was puppeteering this thing.
And watching the edit over the past year, I saw the first cut where they hadn't rendered the Beast at all. I was still in my grey Lycra and thinking, 'God, where will this go?'.
Then I saw it a couple of weeks ago. Beast is almost finished, and it's just magic what they have achieved. To see the physical work that I put in taken to a digital world, and digital hairs placed in every pore on my digital face, it's been incredible watching that come to life.
What kind of training did you have to do?
It was almost like musical theatre school, training the voice and training the body to walk on the stilts, but also learning that waltz with Emma (Watson, who plays Belle).
The first time we met, I think, was in a dance lesson and we had three months practising this waltz every day. It's a really, really good way to get to know your co-star.