Luke Evans runs through his work schedule for the rest of the year. “I go to New York, I go to Los Angeles, I do a premiere, I come back, I shoot a movie, I finish it, I do another press tour. Then I have another movie to shoot at the end of November, as well as another thing on TV, which I can’t talk about yet. Then I’m going to do another movie in early December for another week in Acapulco. And then I’m around for the press, then I fly to Japan to do something there. And then I have Christmas! He exhales, shaking his head in mock exhaustion. “It can be done, and even if I can and still enjoy it, why not?”
Evans, 43, arrives from Madrid, the city where his partner, Fran Tomas, a Spanish graphic designer, is based. It’s early morning and Evans is leaning against a couch, rubbing his eyes and intermittently sucking on a vape. He only landed in Madrid about a day ago. Before that he was in Ibiza and in Portugal before that. Tomorrow he will return to London for a few nights. In case you don’t have the memo, Evans is not a man who stays in one place for long. Nor is he someone who has a habit of turning down opportunities.
“I want to be able to say yes to everything,” he says in his gravelly, melodious Welsh rhythm. He wears a navy blue polo shirt that reveals a thin tattooed band around his right forearm. Stumbs of salt and pepper run over his jaw. “I’ve always been a yes person.”
To say that this philosophy has served him well would be an understatement because, on paper, Evan’s trajectory is unlikely. He was born in Pontypool, South Wales, and grew up in Aberbargoed as a Jehovah’s Witness. At school he was bullied for his religion, and at home his (very loving) parents David and Yvonne banned “movies with sex, swearing, violence, whatever. which is supernatural”. At 16, he left religion and his home for Cardiff in search of work and a community where he could live freely as a gay teenager. How did his parents react? “It was hard, but we love each other and love comes first,” he says. Today, the three are “very, very close”.
In Cardiff, he worked as a postman in a bank. He was selling shoes on River Island. He took up employment as a ‘labourer on a construction site, building walls at council properties all over Cardiff and the Valleys’. Nothing in those early years foreshadowed a career as a Hollywood star capable of switching between big-budget franchises (The Hobbit, fast furious), Disney live-action remakes (The beauty and the Beast and Pinocchiowhy we’re talking today), and prestige TV series (The Pembrokeshire Murders, Nine perfect strangers) but Evans, an only child, had never been a normal child. “God bless them, they gave birth to a firecracker!” he said of his parents.
His various jobs saved Evans money for singing lessons, and at age 17 he won a scholarship to the London Studio, a dance and drama school. He arrived in the city the day Princess Diana died (“I remember driving around central London,” he recalls. “I even saw her hearse pass from [RAF] Northolt, where she had landed, and the family [driving] behind”) and remained for the next 16 years, performing in West End musicals such as Lease, Miss Saigonand Piaf. “The musical theater was great, but I wasn’t at star level,” he says. “I was saving money to pay my rent. At 26, I said, ‘If I’m still struggling at 30, I give up.’ What would he have done instead? “I come from a family of very practical working class people…I could stand in the doorway of a nightclub; I could serve you a meal; I can work as a PA; I can cut hair.
At 26, I said, ‘If I’m still struggling at 30, I give up.’
But, of course, Evans never had to fall back on his plan B. In his late twenties, while performing at Small change, a play about young men coming of age in 1950s Cardiff, he was spotted by an agent. Shortly after, he landed his first film role in a 2010 Clash of the Titans remake, playing Apollo. The coins haven’t stopped rolling since.
There’s a childlike energy to Evans, who talks fast and isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself. This playfulness partly suggests why a man who comes across as warm, witty and always optimistic – the kind of person who would be great company in the pub – is often portrayed as a villain. In Pinocchio, which stars Tom Hanks as a kind-hearted Geppetto, Evans plays The Coachman, luring mischievous children to Pleasure Island, where they are soon sold into slavery. It depicts the character as a sinister Artful Dodger with pale, clammy skin and eyes that roll in their sockets as he sings one of the film’s four original songs. Like the misogynist Gaston in The beauty and the Beast, Evans inhabited a version of evil shrouded in toxic masculinity. Why is he attracted to these abominable men? “Well, I don’t [get] attracted to them,” he laughs. “I just gave them to myself.” And why is that? “I’m good at them,” he says, shrugging. “Maybe because it’s so far from who I am. …If you choose characters where you really have to shed your skin and put on theirs, it’s a lot harder. It is a deeper dive into a person and the psychology of a human being.
Josh Gad, who played Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, has his own theory. “Luke is so disarming,” he says. “He just has the charisma and charm that sucks you in and makes you wonder, ‘How can I shamelessly love someone who’s such a freak? “”
When selecting roles, Evans’ unofficial mantra is to seek out stories that make the audience think, “We’ve never seen this before.” Alongside Billy Porter, he has just finished filming. Our son, a film about a divorced gay couple fighting over custody of their young child. This is the second time Evans has played a gay role. the first was last year Nine perfect strangers. “It was emotionally one of the most traumatic things I’ve done,” Evans says of Our son. “The story is so real. It’s what people go through all the time, and it’s very relevant, not just to the gay community. Yet he knows the importance of studios making relationship dramas gay stories for mainstream audiences cannot be overlooked.” We saw some incredible movies that absolutely needed to be told – like Milk…Nowadays there are also all these wonderful TV shows about younger generations. They don’t need to be so sensational about a historical story about the fight gay people have had over the decades. Of course, there is still room for these stories. There is also space for stories about daily life.
Playing an on-screen father is a “little workshop” for when Evans becomes a parent himself. He has spoken in the past of wanting to have a child before he was “old”. Does he have an age in mind? “I want to do all the things physically that a young kid would want their dad to do,” he says. ” I do not want to be [saying], ‘I can’t do this because of my back.’ … I think I still have a good decade to go before any of these things become a problem.
It was emotionally one of the most traumatic things I’ve done.
He’s not fazed by the prospect of balancing fatherhood with his frenetic work schedule. “Obviously when the kids start school they might be in the same place, so dad wants to be there,” he says in a way that makes it clear that this is a subject he has researched deeply. “Although I had some really good friends who had extremely successful careers in this industry, and I talked to them about it, and they said they just took their kid with them and their kid didn’t not suffered at all. They went to different schools and they made it work – the traveling circus of life.
When it comes to his love life, Evans is understandably reserved. In Ibiza a few weeks ago he and Tomas were photographed kissing in the sea by paparazzi. “If someone hides in a bush and takes a picture, even though I wouldn’t want them to because it’s a massive invasion of my privacy, what control do I have?” he said stiffening slightly. The relationship is relatively new (in January 2021, Evans confirmed in an interview that he was single) and the couple “live between” Madrid and London. They speak to each other “mainly in English”, although Evans is determined to perfect his Spanish, having started online lessons during the confinement. “I can understand probably 90% of what I hear,” he says.
When he’s not working, Evans surrounds himself with an eclectic group of friends. “Honestly, Luke is one of the funniest and most hilarious human beings I’ve ever met,” says Gad. “He loves all things fun, including good food, any opportunity to sing in a public space, and an establishment that serves endless shots of Aperol spritz.”
In February this year, some corners of the internet erupted in elated bewilderment when Phillip Schofield posted photos of himself on a ski vacation with, among others, Evans and Tomas. (Interior designer Kelly Hoppen was also present.) There was only one question on everyone’s lips: how on earth did Hollywood superstar Luke Evans end up relaxing in the Alps with Britain’s king of daytime television? Evans flashes a wry smile. “There is a very simple answer. The Prince’s Trust. We’re all ambassadors… They’re lovely people, and they’re very British, and I miss my British life.
Lorraine Kelly is another unlikely friend. This summer, Evans, a super fan of Adele, was one of the thousands who watched Tottenham’s finest return to Hyde Park. “I was standing next to Lorraine Kelly and her daughter. We had the best evening. We sang each song, arm in arm, watching the sun go down on Adele’s face on those big screens.
I have one last question for Evans. As rumor continues to swirl about who will replace Daniel Craig as James Bond, his name is constantly mentioned. Is the audience ready for a gay 007? “I don’t know what the current temperature is with the public, if they care enough about what James Bond is doing in the bedroom,” he says cautiously. “I don’t think it really matters to the character at all if I’m really honest,” he adds, launching into a story of echo 3, the Apple+ action thriller series coming this fall. In it, he plays a “U.S. Army Delta Force special operations soldier.” Preparing for the shoot, which took place largely in Colombia, involved training with the Navy Seals and hiking the Appalachian Trail. “The reason I said we should talk about echo 3says Evans with a cheeky smile, “that’s when you talk about James Bond, that kind of training, every day I was playing that kind of special services character that you put in any environment and [he] survives. It’s deliberately vague, but the subtext is clear: Luke Evans is ready for anything.
Top Image Credits: Dior Men Sweater
Photographer: David Urbanke
Stylist: EJ Briones