Once upon a time, Luke Evans and Josh Gad had plans to reprise their Disney roles from the live-action Beauty and the Beast for a Gaston- and LeFou-centric spin-off series on Disney+. Then, abruptly at the start of the year, the project was indefinitely put on hold.
Evans, sitting down over Zoom with EW for his new film Pinocchio, promises the series will happen.
“It’s been put on hold. We just wanna make sure that it is absolutely the best it can be, and if that means we just have to wait a little longer to finesse certain pieces of it, then that’s what we’re going to do because this is a very important legacy,” the actor from Nine Perfect Strangers and The Alienist says.
“We want to honor these characters with the best story we can possibly deliver. It’s just on hold. It is gonna happen. We’re very excited about it. At some point in the near future, it will happen.”
Evans says he and Gad talk all the time. They had always wanted to work together, and then when Beauty and the Beast, the film, happened, they were looking for something else to partner on. “We came up with the idea of, what would it be like to delve into the past of Gaston and LeFou and how they met and who they were and why they became the people that we meet in the movie that we all know and love? That opened up several cans of worms,” Evans recalls.
“To navigate a story of those two people and also new characters, and then bring them right up to the moment where you meet them in the movie has been a thrilling experience. There’s a lot of ways it could go. So that’s where we have been so far and where we hopefully will go to in the future.”
The Emma Watson-led Beauty and the Beast of 2017 made waves when it was revealed that Gad’s LeFou was gay in the film, though many critics, including the LGBTQ community at large, felt that element had been buried. Even Gad says he felt the moment didn’t go far enough. When asked if this element is something he hopes will be explored in the prequel series, Evans, who is openly gay, says, “Who knows? I’m not sure.”
“There’s so many things about these two characters that we don’t really know, about their origin stories,” he notes. “Were they always these creatures or were they different? It’s a bit like, no one’s born bad. Things happen, you make wrong decisions, or you choose to make a decision that affects the rest of your life. I think that was where we were going with the idea and concept. So I hope one day soon we will be able to deliver that story for you guys.”
Luke Evans as the Coachman in Disney’s live-action, CG-animated ‘Pinocchio’
| CREDIT: DISNEY +
For now, Evans can be seen on screen in another Disney production as the Coachman in Pinocchio. He was surprised to get the call from director Robert Zemeckis about joining the new film. He thought Beauty and the Beast was a one-and-done job with the Mouse House.
“I feel like I’m almost unrecognizable in the character, and that was part of the fun of it,” he says, noting the hour and 20 minutes it took to transform into the Coachman each time, between the fake teeth, makeup, wigs, and costumes.
“It’s the cocktail of creatives and the concept that I thought was brilliant,” Evans continues. “Robert Zemeckis at the helm with his incredible ability to tell stories, also his awareness and use of the most current technology in cinema nowadays, which could lend itself very well to this kind of story. But also his ability to work with actors and how he brings out such amazing performances from humans, as well as animated characters.”
Evans was always a little terrified of the original Pinocchio, including the borderline macabre sequences involving the Coachman and the donkey transformations of the kidnapped children. He wanted to bring a sense of authenticity and integrity to those same scenes in the new film.
“A live-action remake of an 2D-animated character means you have to really think outside the box and be brave,” he explains. “My character, for example, is nothing like he is in the animation. He’s much darker and scarier. Although the one in the animation was scary, but I’m also a real human being. I can move differently. We were able to incorporate physical things within the character that we couldn’t have done with the animation. I embrace all that. I think most of the time it’s warranted in films. This one definitely is warranted.”
Luke Evans: 38 fun facts about the actor!
1. Luke Evans was born on 15 April 1979.
2. He is a Welsh actor and singer.
3. Evans began his career on the stage, performing in many of London’s West End productions such as Rent, Miss Saigon, and Piaf before getting his breakthrough role in Hollywood starring in the Clash of the Titans 2010 remake, playing Apollo.
4. Following his debut, Evans was cast in such action and thriller films as Immortals (2011), The Raven (2012), and the re-imagined The Three Musketeers (2011), in which he played Aramis.
5. In 2013, Evans starred as the main antagonist Owen Shaw in the blockbuster Fast & Furious 6, and also played Bard the Bowman in Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
6. Evans also portrayed the vampire Dracula in the character’s film origin story, Dracula Untold.
7. Luke Evans was born in Pontypool, and raised in Aberbargoed, a small town in the Rhymney Valley, Wales, the only child of Yvonne and David Evans.
8. At the age of seventeen, he moved to Cardiff, where he studied under the supervision of Louise Ryan, an established singing coach.
9. In 1997 he won a scholarship to The London Studio Centre in Kings Cross, London. He graduated in 2000.
10. From 2000 to 2008 Evans starred in many of London’s West End productions including La Cava, Taboo, Rent, Miss Saigon and Avenue Q as well as several fringe shows in London and at the Edinburgh Festival.
11. In 2008, he landed his most significant theatre role playing Vincent in the play Small Change written and directed by Peter Gill at the Donmar Warehouse, it was significant in that he gained recognition from film casting directors and US agencies from this play and he was also nominated for the Evening Standard award for best newcomer because of his performance in Small Change.
12. Later that same year he did his second show at the Donmar Warehouse, Piaf, in which he played Yves Montand.
13. Evans got his first film audition aged thirty. In 2009, he landed his first film, playing the Greek god Apollo in the 2010 remake Clash of the Titans.
14. Also in 2010, he appeared as Clive in the film Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, directed by Matt Whitecross, as the Sheriff of Nottingham’s thug in Robin Hood, alongside Matthew Macfadyen (whom he would later play alongside again in The Three Musketeers), and played handyman and good guy Andy, in director Stephen Frears’ film Tamara Drewe, based on Posy Simmond’s comic strip. Evans went on to portray DI Craig Stokes in Blitz (2011), the film adaptation of Ken Bruen’s novel of the same name, in which he starred with Jason Statham and Paddy Considine.
15. In early 2010, he shot the independent movie, Flutter, directed by Giles Borg.
16. Evans played the Musketeer Aramis in Paul W. S. Anderson’s version of The Three Musketeers (filmed in 2010 and released in 2011).
17. He was cast in a lead role in Tarsem Singh’s Greek epic, Immortals (2011), in which he played the King of the Gods, Zeus.
18. And at the end of 2010, he took a role opposite John Cusack in James McTeigue’s film The Raven, replacing Jeremy Renner.
19. In the film, released in 2012 and set in mid-19th century Baltimore, Evans played Detective Emmett Fields, who investigates a series of murders alongside Cusack’s Edgar Allan Poe.
20. Shooting took place in Budapest and Serbia in November 2010.
21. In 2011, he shot No One Lives, a psychological horror film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, in New Orleans, and began filming a role in Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, playing the role of Bard the Bowman.
22. In 2013, Evans played the antagonist Owen Shaw in Furious 6, and in 2014, he played Dracula in the film Dracula Untold.
23. Evans was cast as Eric Draven in the reboot of The Crow. In January 2015, it was announced that he officially exited the project to pursue other projects.
24. In June 2014, Evans join the cast of the upcoming film High-Rise with Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons.
25. In October 2014, it was announced that he had signed to star in Free Fire, directed by Ben Wheatley and co-starring Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde and Armie Hammer.
26. In March 2015, it was announced that he would be playing the role of the villainous Gaston in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast, which co-stars Emma Watson.
27. Evans is openly gay. In a 2002 interview, he said, “Everybody knew me as a gay man, and in my life in London I never tried to hide it,” and that by being open he would not have “that skeleton in the closet they can rattle out”
28. In 2004, he said his acting career had not suffered by being out.
29. In 2014, Evans acknowledged the importance of marketability, and that, although he does not hide his homosexuality, he is reticent to discuss it with the media.
30. The Spanish media has reported he is in a relationship with model Jon Kortajarena.
31. In 2015, Evans was named one of GQ’s 50 best dressed British men.
32. Was considered for the role of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (2013).
33. Appeared in ‘Rent – Remixed’ at the Duke of York’s Theater, London. [October 2007]
34. Starred as Roger in the British revival of ‘Rent’ in London’s West End. [November 2007]
35. While Evans was a cast member in the London production of the musical “Taboo,” he was interviewed in a 2002 issue of the gay news magazine “The Advocate” by writer and director Paris Barclay. Evans told Barclay that he is an openly gay man and that he was raised in a small southern Welsh village called Aberbargoed by parents who belonged to the Jehovah’s Witness church.
36. However, during the early 2010s, when his larger-scale Hollywood career was being launched, Evans (or his publicists speaking on his behalf) were suddenly much more cagey about his previously avowed homosexuality. Time Magazine characterized Evans ad “hiding his sexuality” during this period, saying, “Evans, through publicists, refused to comment on his past statements and tended to avoid pronouns in interviews about his significant others, hoping to adopt three dogs and ‘share them with someone else’ in a 2010 interview with Cosmopolitan.”
37. Also in 2010, it was widely reported that Evans was dating a woman, a public relations executive named Holly Goodchild.
38. However, by 2014, Evans was once again wiling to discuss his status as a rare gay action star. In an interview in Women’s Wear Daily, Evans was asked if he was setting a precedent for gay actors by playing action-filled roles, Evans responded, “It’s good for people to look at me and think this guy is doing his thing and enjoying what he’s doing and successful at it and living his life. And that’s what I’m doing and I’m very happy.”.