Welsh born star Luke Evans has been busy since making his feature film debut in 2010’s Clash of the Titans – marking up appearances in everything from Immortals to Fast 6, with some Three Musketeers in between.
But the 34 year old’s biggest break to date is probably his part in the massive Hobbit trilogy, taking on the role of Bard in Peter Jackson’s take on the classic fantasy tale. With the second movie about to hit home video, Sophie Moran had the chance to chat to the actor about coming into the Hobbit family, taking on dark roles and his favourite dish!
CLICK: You started your career in acting on the stage, was it hard to make the transition to the screen?
LE: Well it was quite difficult because I hadn’t really had any formal training it was all theatre. So I was learning on the job really and my first job was Clash of the Titans so it was a moment I’ll never forget because I was working opposite Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. And it was me watching and learning on the spot – I didn’t understand the jargon or anything like that. So I just had to trust my instincts and learn. And I’m still watching and learning today.
CLICK: Do you have a preference – stage or screen?
LE: I don’t have a preferences. I think if you’ve had a career in theatre I don’t think you can ever let it go, it will always be a part of you. I do feel like I’m itching to do something on stage again sooner rather than later. But I don’t think I have a favourite because they’re both so very different and they’re both rewarding in different ways. One is instantaneous and one you have to wait a little longer before you find out whether people like it or not!
CLICK: To talk about The Hobbit - was it frustrating to have the second movie stop right before one of your big moments?
LE: [laughs] No because it means the beginning of the third film, you’re going to see it in all its glory! I think Peter Jackson did a brilliant thing there, what a cliff-hanger – they’re the best when they’re done well and I think that was one of the best I’ve ever seen! I mean you literally are like [gasp] ‘No – don’t stop there!’ But it’s great and I loved that.
CLICK: You’ve got a lot of scenes in the theatrical cut – will you have more in the extended edition?
LE: I have no idea!
CLICK: What was it like to come into the group after they’d already been shooting for awhile?
LE: It wasn’t too bad, they were all really lovely – a nice bunch of lads. They must have been shooting for about 6 months before I arrived in Wellington. And they were all really lovely and were probably glad to see a new face at that point! They were great, they became very good friends.
CLICK: Did you ever think of auditioning for Lord of the Rings way back?
LE: No I didn’t – I was quite young when Lord of the Rings came out. But no I was busy doing theatre at that point.
CLICK: Were you familiar with the book before you were cast?
LE: I was very familiar with it yes – I’d read it as a teenager and then again when I got the film.
CLICK: What did you think of the extra material for the Bard character?
LE: Well I’m very happy with it. We’re still quite loyal and even though we have extra scenes in the film the scenes only embellish the story we already know. And it just helps Bard’s character to have a little more rapport with the audience, so they can understand his journey a bit better than they would if it was just from the book. You get to meet his family – he has a couple more kids in the film. And you see the place where he lives. So when Bard does this thing in the third film I think what we’re doing is allowing the audience to get to like Bard and to understand him more and why he does what he does and the things that trigger him. And it’s mainly that he wants to look after his children and keep them safe. So we’re just giving him some extra time, I think he deserves it!
CLICK: You’re also attached to The Crow – can you tell us anything about that. Is it true to the original or more of a re-imagining?
LE: Well we’re being loyal to the book. There is a wonderful comic book, a graphic novel which we’re being loyal to. So it’s a fabulous story and we’re telling it in its entirety and I’m very excited about it. And I have that going on and three other projects with one almost ready to go, I’m talking about maybe doing a television character for a few episodes. And I’m thinking of directing a short film of my own and then doing the press for Dracula which comes out in October. So yea it’s quite a busy year!
CLICK: With films like The Raven, Dracula and now The Crow you seem to be drawn to darker subject matter. Is that on purpose?
LE: No… I don’t know. I don’t think so. As much as they on paper sound dark and ominous and evil, there’s a lot more to especially Dracula than meets the eye. Because we’re going back to the original story of Dracula, which has never really been told. We’re going back to Vlad Tepes, the historical figure. His story and then we watch his transition and how he becomes this vampire. So it’s not all about the darkness. The Crow is very much about a man heartbroken and seeking revenge for the death of himself and his girlfriend. But there’s a huge amount to it and the thing about The Crow is that it’s not all about revenge, there’s a lot more to him than just the vengeance part. But I’m in discussions about playing a character in a romantic film, coming up in the summer. From a very famous book – so yea there’s a lot going on. It’s Very exciting!
CLICK: You’ve also starred in quite a few action films – Musketeers, Fast 6, Immortals and now The Hobbit, was action something you wanted to do?
LE: No I mean some of them did just land on my lap and others I went for and others I was approached about. It’s weird you just sort of have a plan but sometimes it gets thrown up in the air because you’re presented with something you hadn’t thought about. And you think that might be interesting or I’d like to work with that director. And then your route changes slightly – you’ve got to be quite malleable as an actor I think because also things get delayed all the time. So you have to be flexible and ready to adapt to different things. Sometimes jobs come in and you have to think about it quite quickly because things can change and alter the year. But I like that, I like the variety of it.
CLICK: And those kinds of roles must require some serious training – do you enjoy that aspect?
LE: I love the training, it’s part of my day really. I go to the gym with my training and when we get close to the film we’re doing then we’ll start working with the stunt guys and learn whatever I have to learn. It’s a wonderful part of the job, I love it.
CLICK: Do you do anything action packed in real life?
LE: I go to the gym, I swim, I do a bit of running, and I ride a bike. That’s about it really. When you do it for a living and you do it quite often you don’t need much else!
CLICK: In Fast 6 we find out that your brother is going to be played by Jason Statham – are you flattered by that?
LE: Very flattered! If anyone can sort them out, Statham can! So yea it’s good.
CLICK: Your new film Dracula was filmed in Northern Ireland – what was it like filming in Ireland?
LE: I had the best time. It was a brilliant city [Belfast]. It’s not what I thought it was going to be – it’s a great place, it’s incredibly cultural, fantastic restaurants, loads of history. The people are just great, very warm and welcoming. And Northern Ireland is a stunning place. We used a lot of locations – the Giants Causeway, some beautiful forests and mountains. It was perfect, you can see why people shoot in Ireland because there are so many beautiful locations. I had a fantastic time. It was hard work, working every day of the shoot but it was great. And when I watch the film it’s going to bring back lots of memories.
CLICK: You’ve played Aramis, Bard and Vlad in Dracula – how important for you is it to read the original books for adapted works?
LE: Very much so. If you’ve got a novel to work off its fantastic. It’s great that you can reference the original writer’s idea of who the character is. I think it’s fantastic. But then at some point you have to put the book down and pick the script up because it’s often a different interpretation which is sort of what I did on The Hobbit and The Musketeers. And Dracula is different anyway – there’s a lot of information on Vlad from the 1400’s so I read about that and who he was. And why he did the things he did.
CLICK: Do you read a lot for leisure and if so is there anything you’d like to see adapted?
LE: I don’t read a huge amount for pleasure. I have to read an awful lot of scripts which sort of puts you off reading novels. When I’m away on holiday I do read a bit more. There is a book that’s been adapted to a script which I’m very excited about pursuing. I’m in talks now to play the role but I can’t talk about it because it’s not greenlit yet. But it’s a beautiful love story and a brilliant book. So fingers crossed that will come together and I’m hoping to shoot it later this year. So yea it is nice when you come across a script or a book because at this point I can pursue it and see what happens.
CLICK: Finally, we read that you love to cook – do you have a signature dish.
LE: Yea – it’s Jamie Oliver’s lamb meatballs with chickpeas. It’s very, very good and it takes… well it takes him 15 minutes, it takes me 30 but anyway! That’s still pretty good and it’s tasty!
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG IS RELEASED ON BLU-RAY 3D™, BLU-RAY™ and DVD FROM 4TH APRIL 2014.