Welsh actor Luke Evans, best known for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Dracula Untold and Fast & Furious 6, stars in the British thriller High-Rise. We chatted with the star about his role in the film and how he approached playing such a dark character. He also reveals a bit about his role in Beauty and the Beast.
What can you tell us about Wilder?
I felt like he’s the guts and the stomach of the story. There’s a lot to him. As Laing (Tom Hiddleston) says in the film, he’s probably the sanest person in the building. He’s drawn into the party energy of the film. He’s so different from anything I’ve ever played. I was looking for a challenge. I admired and respected the work of Ben Wheatley. He’s a really interesting director and I really wanted to work with him. I needed to bring to life such a cult work of J.G. Ballard and that was exciting. It’s a very complex work about many, many things and I knew it would be a complicated film to shoot. To be a part of it was really exciting.
How did you get involved in the project?
I met Ben for lunch. The meeting was set up, I read the script. Sometimes when you read a script you try to work out if this role if for you. With this role I was super excited about it the second I read it. So when I went in for the meeting with Ben, I had one job: I was on a mission that by the time I left – I was going to convince him that I was the man for the role. I channeled a bit of the role at lunch so I could give him a taste of what I could do.
What kind of research did you do?
[My character] reminded me of the [late] actor Oliver Reed, who was quite the character. He was larger than life and liked to live life to the full. He was a hell-raiser – that’s what they called him. I figured he encapsulated also the period in which he was hell-raising – the ’70s, which worked very well. I did a lot of research and watched the physicality of Oliver Reed in interviews. I channeled him quite a bit.
Did you enjoy portraying such a dark character?
I did, it was very difficult sometimes. There were moments in the film that were very hard to play. Everybody loses it to a certain level. He’s really pissed off with Charlotte (Sienna Miller) and feels betrayed by her. His response to that is incredibly dark. Those moments were real hard to play. There’s a lot of other great moments in the film when he’s almost like a gorilla – a primal creature who has forgotten he’s human. He’s a man on the edge.
Did you feel more pressure when the character is based on the novel?
No, not at all. To be completely honest with you, I’m probably the only person in this film who hadn’t read the book before filming. What I did with other films as well, like The Hobbit and The Three Musketeers, is that anything that comes from the book, it’s great to read the novel but you have to put the book down at some point, quite quickly as far as I’m concerned, because you have to honor the script. You can refer to the book but I felt the script was so well written so I focused solely on the script.
Can you talk a bit about your role in Beauty and the Beast?
I play Gaston. It was a real honor to work for, first of all, such a legendary studio such as Disney and also to bring to life a character that I was brought up with. Beauty and Beast came out when I was twelve. I remember seeing it in the cinema. It’s amazing how quickly you remember the song. It’s so memorable. When I got the job I was over the moon. I was primarily a singer. That’s what I did when I first became an actor – I sang in the theater. It’s taken eight years in my film career to finally get the job where I was able to sing and enjoy every minute of it. It was an amazing job. Everybody involved was happy to come to work. The set was huge and the cast was wonderful. I had a great time with Emma (Watson), Dan (Stevens), Josh (Gad) and Kevin (Cline). Having Bill Condon directing it simply made it a dream package.
That’s lovely. Thank you so much for chatting with us!
Thank you so much!
High-Rise opens today in Toronto and Vancouver.