Luke Evans On Dracula, ‘The Hobbit’ and Coping With Newfound Fame
Luke Evans looks good in a cape. And I get the impression that Luke Evans knows that he looks good in a cape, though, the trick is, as he says, a good wind machine. This is now life for Evans, an admittedly private actor who is starring in what seems to be just about everything these days. I asked Evans if he can walk down the street without being mobbed, to which he responded that, outside of a stray fan every few blocks or so, he can still walk around in general obscurity. Soon after this interview, I left Evans’ hotel and was greeted by an almost block-wide spread depicting Evans as Dracula ... you know, those mobs might be coming sooner rather than later.
Evans now adds ‘Dracula: Untold’ to his already impressive list of franchises – ‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Fast & Furious’ – a movie that only recently became a franchise after some recent reshoots ensured that it fits into Universal’s proposed Monster Franchise plan. Basically, it sounds like Universal wants to do with monsters what Marvel did with superheroes, and Luke Evans, as a heroic version of Dracula, is their new Tony Stark. And Evans seems excited about his new role, plus it doesn’t hurt that he looks pretty good in a cape.
Why Dracula? On the surface, it seems like this has been done a few times before.
Well, it’s the Untold! And they changed the name of it, it used to be ‘Year Zero,’ which I didn’t like so much.
I don’t know, I just didn’t like the title of it.
It sounds like a soft drink.
Yeah, exactly, and this is anything but a soft drink. So, it’s the untold story of the origins – we know so much about this creature, but only a certain period of this creature’s life because of Bram Stoker’s book. What we don’t know so much about is how he became that creature and who is the man behind that creature.
When did you find out about the plan for a monster franchise? I know you had to go back and shoot that last scene set in the present...
It wasn’t just the last scene, but that was definitely in the pickups. You know, this is a creature who doesn’t die, so, in a way, this man – this vampire – deserves a life, even if he is undead.
The thought of Dracula in the present day opens up a lot of questions, like what would Dracula be like with an iPhone?
Yeah, what’s he been going through?
He has all that time alone during the day, he probably watches a lot of television.
Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure.
What do you think he watches?
God knows. Probably ‘The Walking Dead.’
I bet he’d make fun of it, “That’s not accurate.”
Who knows? I wonder what he’d think of ‘True Blood’?
When you first signed up, did you think this was going to be one movie or were you always open to multiple films?
I was very aware that I’d be doing it more than once. But, we’ve got to get this one right.
Are you the Iron Man of this franchise?
[Laughs] I don’t know.
Well, you’re first.
Well, yeah. I guess he’s first.
Is he going to go around and recruit other monsters?
Who knows? Maybe he will! The potential there is huge, isn’t it?
You’re quietly in a lot of things right now. You’re part of our lives now.
Yeah, yeah, I am. People are going to be sick of me by December.
But that’s why I used the word quietly, no one is saying, “I don’t want to see Luke Evans anymore.”
I hope not!
I promise I’ve never heard that sentence.
I hope not. Part of the challenge for me as an actor is to make sure that if I am around a lot, that I’m not playing the same sort of roles – because people will get bored. I would get bored, frankly, watching myself or even playing the same role. The good thing about, for example, Dracula and Bard the Bowman, they are very different creatures -- very different people -- and I guess maybe that’s why people are not bored of me yet.
Do you get offered roles that you know you’d be bored playing?
That’s exactly right.
So you go out of your away to avoid that?
Well, this is Hollywood…
But a lot of actors will say they don’t have a strategy. But what you’re saying makes sense.
Well, yeah. And at this point, it is about the role. It is about the filmmaker and it’s about the next step for me and I have to be very strategic in what I choose and what it is I choose to do. So, yeah, I’m very aware of that and very aware of the projects now. As much as “typecast” is a word people don’t like to use, if you’re good at a certain genre, you will get offered lots of things in that genre. That’s a given.
What movie did you do that followed with a stream of offers for similar roles?
It was probably ‘Three Musketeers’ and ‘Immortals.’ I look good in a gold skirt and a cape [laughing].
I think that’s my headline.
Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare! I will not speak to you ever again if you ever write that [laughs].
Speaking of capes, you wear a cape in Dracula -- capes should come back. They are cool.
Capes are epic, man. Actually, no, a cape is one part of the equation. A wind machine is the other. Without a wind machine, it looks like that curtain there. It just hangs.
How famous are you? I feel like you’re known and respected, but you can still walk down the street. Is that accurate?
I don’t get mobbed. A person every couple of blocks would come up and ask for a photograph – and that’s fine. And I’m fine with that. I’ve got a healthy respect for what that means to me. I’m not bothered by people coming up, because most of the time – actually, all of the time – it’s a positive thing. Except in a scenario where people know you’re turning up at a place, it can get a little crazy there, but, you know, you’re ready for that. But if you’re walking down the street and somebody runs up to you and shakes your hand and says “I love your work, would you mind a photograph?,” it’s like, that’s a compliment. That’s an amazing compliment.
As opposed to, “I didn’t care much for ‘Three Musketeers.’”
Well, again, if that’s their opinion, that’s fine. It’s like if a reviewer has an opinion on your work, it doesn’t mean they speak for the whole.
Well, that’s different than a stranger going out of his way to say that.
Yeah, that would be different, “You suck!” Yeah, it’s been positive.
But with your career right now, that could change.
It’s changing in front of my eyes. I’m aware of it. Right now it’s changing.
I get the impression that you are a private person. Would you want that kind of fame?
Well, I guess it’s out of my hands. Success in this industry is a very public industry. I make my money from being in films, which are seen by millions of people. They recognize you, so it’s symbiotic, in a way. You can’t really have one without the other. There’s a healthy psychology to it, I think. Where you just go, “OK, well, they can have that part of my life.” That’s fine, I’ve given that up. I’ll be on a chat show and I’ll walk down the street and I’ll have a photograph with you and I’ll sign whatever you want. But then you sort of have to know that there is a limit. You have to have your own personal life. You have to. You have to hold on to it ... I’m not in that place yet, so I can still walk down the street and hang on to that independence for as long as possible because this is who I am. I’ve lived most of my life I’ve been not known by people. It’s still quite a new thing. And I think people follow me for different reasons, I’m not a heartthrob…
There are people who think you’re a heartthrob.
Well, maybe they do, but in general I’m not looked upon as a heartthrob. You know, I’m not that sort of actor.
You don’t do heartthrob roles.
But people do think you’re a handsome man.
That’s very kind. I don’t mind that! [Laughs] I can live with that.
The final ‘Hobbit’ movie comes out this December. What do you think the legacy of these movies will be?
It will be an interesting thing. I don’t know, it will be a very long day of one story. Also, you have to remember, there’s a generation or two generations now who will see ‘The Hobbit’ before they will see ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ And that’s a fascinating thing as well.
It’s like the kids who grew up with the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. Kids will watch these, then watch ‘The Lord of the Rings’ later.
Exactly. And I think what’s brilliant about what Peter has done is you can tell it’s Peter Jackson has directed it. And what’s wonderful about watching ‘Lord of the Rings’ – I watched it when it was on TV the other day – some films of that age really have aged. They look dated. The effects don’t work so well. Audiences and very intelligent these days and they are bombarded with the highest amount of technology.
And ‘The Lord of the Rings’ still looks great.
It still looks amazing. And that’s what’s brilliant about Peter, because at the end of the day, as much as the special effects, the real crux of the reason why it’s still relatable to the people who love watching it is because the story is just immense. And it just brings you in – and I think that’s what ‘The Hobbit’ does as well. And to finish, the way the book is written, it finishes with this huge battle. I mean, what a brilliant crescendo to an amazing story.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.