Luke Evans has always done things his own way. He grew up in a tiny Welsh ex-mining town which, until his ascent to Hollywood stardom, was most famous for once hosting Europe’s largest slag heap. He was small, obsessed with musical theatre and, as a Jehovah’s Witness, spent every weekend knocking on schoolmates’ doors. Bullies were never far away. As soon as he could, Evans decamped to London, a city where he “saw those giant planes coming in, close enough to see the wheels underneath. In the Valleys, all you saw was a vapour trail high in the sky.”
He spent years in musical theatre before finally getting his break in a straight play, Small Change, at the Donmar Theatre. He was in a minority of actors who managed that particular transition – “as a musical-theatre actor, I thought they’d never let me through the door” – then a vanishingly small number who parlay West End success into Hollywood stardom.
After turns in blockbusters like The Hobbit, High-Rise and The Girl on the Train, he returns to musicals this month in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast remake, playing Gaston. “Well, I do love telling a story through song,” he told us, in the interview that accompanies his exclusive cover shoot for the new issue of Jocks & Nerds.
Before the magazine hits newsstands on Monday, preview the shoot by clicking on the gallery and read an excerpt from the interview below.
As an actor, what are you aiming for? To entertain? To enlighten?
On a personal level it’s about the challenge, finding a role that will challenge me. On a bigger level, it is about entertaining and maybe educating an audience about something, making them feel something that they might never have felt themselves – loss, murder, heartbreak, discovery, realisation of something massive.
Do you have any remaining career ambitions?
I’ve always wanted to do a run on Broadway. But more than that, I’d like to have children. I’ve wanted to adopt for quite a while. It must be really rewarding to impart your knowledge and your life experiences in a positive way, so that your nurture and love can be carried forward. But how I do it at this point in my career, being so busy and travelling so much, has to be thought through. Do they stay at home or come on the road with me? I don’t know yet. Right now I don’t think I can even have a goldfish in my life. But it’s something I definitely want to happen and I don’t want to wait too long to do it because I don’t want to be an older dad. I would like to be young enough to kick a ball with them, teach them how to swim.