I meet Luke Evans not far from his apartment in London, the city where he has lived for nearly two thirds of his life. But we are talking about Welsh.
The Pontypool-born actor is releasing an album featuring two of his country’s leading lights, Charlotte Church and the Treorchy Male Voice Choir. And, the week after our interview, he films Luke Evans Showtime, a star gig at the International Convention Center in Newport (“There’s a huge red dragon outside!”), For the BBC at Christmas.
Evans has toured the world in his career, appearing in international blockbusters such as The Hobbit and Fast & Furious 6, as well as this month’s Apple TV + thriller Echo 3, shot in Colombia, and the current Australian-filmed Channel 4 series Nine. Perfect Strangers with Nicole Kidman. But the more he jet-sets, the more his roots matter.
“It is very easy to promote Welsh culture because it is so rich,” says the 43-year-old. “The music, the acting, the performance – it’s just in our blood. You can’t stop a Welshman from singing. They always hum something. “
Do you feel the need to shout it whenever the opportunity arises? “I’m English, of course. But I’m Welsh. I made this point early in my career when people interviewed me. Just because I’m proud of it. I come from a very hard-working place, in the Valleys ”.
For Evans, therefore, it is also a point of class. “People might assume that he comes from a lovely middle-class background, and that I have just been invited to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. None of this happened. Mom is a cleaning lady. We lived in a terraced house – they still do. We had a Nissan Micra! And my father worked to the bone until he didn’t have to do it anymore. “
Evans has a parallel career as a singer. After bonding with Kidman and her husband, country music superstar Keith Urban, while filming Nine Perfect Strangers, she asked these two A-listers to help them on her second album, A Song for You. Kidman, recorded by Urban in the musician’s Nashville studio, and Evans sang together on Say Something (made famous by Christina Aguilera).
Evans recorded another duet, Come What May (from the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge!), With Church, an old friend with whom he shared a childhood singing teacher. Evans claims that Kidman is a more confident and better singer than she was when she sang the same song for the Baz Luhrmann musical. “It wasn’t like she had Baz there [directing] she – you imagine he would have been a lot, you know, involved. She did it herself. And this is the rumor that came out, which is fucking brilliant.
I’m interviewing Evans in a meeting room in White City, west London. He is muscular, chiseled, tattooed and looks like a model-lumberjack in his plaid shirt and faded jeans. He strikes me as someone who is extremely comfortable in his own skin. In fact, as a gay man in an often closed industry, he made it clear about his sexuality early on.
Yet he is also aware of the misleading perception that he only came out relatively late in his career. “This is where everyone always gets confused,” he begins.
“I came to London at 16, 17 and have lived an openly gay life. So when things in the movie started happening, in my head, I thought, well, I already did [and come out]. ” But when, after spending his twenties among musicals on the London stage, he entered “the world of cinema, he almost seemed to be reborn. People said, ‘Oh, who is this person? Let’s find out who he is. ‘
“I’m thinking: wait a minute. I’m 30, I’ve been in London for 14 years. I paid my bills and my mortgage, bought my underwear and had a life since I was 16.
“And suddenly I was told that I have to go out again, like it’s important. And it wasn’t. Not for me, at least. So it was weird, and having to put up with it was unpleasant: public opinion said I was back in the closet and all that stuff. Absolutely ridiculous ”.
She remembers news coverage of her first world premiere, accompanied by a good friend. “The Daily Mail said she was my girlfriend and things were getting really serious,” she recalls with an incredulous smile. “We laughed so much. [But] the next thing is: ‘Luke Evans has a beard and he’s hiding!’ How wrong people are! And how quickly a story can be made up to the point where I hid it. And I didn’t do it at all. “
What do you think of Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies’ point of view, expressed last year, that only gays should play gay roles? “I’m not sure,” he replies cautiously.
“Gays have definitely lost their gay roles, for sure. Russell spoke very powerfully, passionately, about this point. I understand this and I totally think that things need to change. But from my point of view: Firstly, I wouldn’t have had a career if gays were playing gay roles and heterosexuals were playing straight roles. I was going to play two roles out of the 36 projects I worked on, or whatever [the number] is.”
Second, his view is simply that “the right person gets the job. Talent and skill, and a little luck and timing … That should be why you get a job. He should have nothing to do with anything else. “
Evans’ sexuality certainly didn’t hinder his career. Projects in the pipeline include roles in a film comedy called Good Grief, directed by Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy, and the animated Netflix version of the musical Scrooge, in which he duets with that other actor who artfully plays the moon. as singer, Jessie Buckley. With A Song for You also including her covers of Last Christmas and Silent Night, Evans apparently made her the holiday season.
“You’ll get tired of me!” he laughs. “People will say, ‘Thank God Christmas has come and gone!'”
A Song for You (BMG) is out tomorrow