The Alienist premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET on TNT
Last year, Luke Evans stole the show as Beauty and the Beast‘s buff baddie, villain Gaston — and now, he’s smoking up the small screen.
The Welsh-born actor stars in TNT’s lush new period drama, The Alienist, a 10-episode miniseries premiering Monday. Based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling 1994 novel and set in turn-of-the-20th-century New York, the series chronicles Evans and his costars Daniel Brühl and Dakota Fanning as their characters join forces to form a sort of extrajudicial Justice League, attempting to solve a string of gruesome child murders by employing criminal psychology.
Here’s everything you need to know about Evans, who plays John Moore, a well-bred New York Times illustrator.
He got his start in London musicals.
The 38-year-old started out on the West End, playing parts in several well-known musicals. From Rent to Avenue Q and Miss Saigon, Evans made a name for himself in the theater world before he starred in his breakthrough role — the Boy George-penned musical Taboo.
“All you’d hear was other people’s opinions, ‘Oh, it was wonderful!’ And I’m thinking, ‘Was it? Which bit?’ ” the actor told The Guardian. “You want to dig them for more, but then you sound self-indulgent. I was desperate to know whether the audience could see what I was feeling — whether, psychologically, it was coming through.”
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He became a full-blown action hero.
After his success in theater, Evans booked his first major film role, playing the sun god Apollo in 2010’s Clash of the Titans. He took on Greek mythology again in 2011’s Immortals, where he was upgraded to the king of the gods, Zeus. He continued to take on more physical roles, acting alongside Jason Statham in Blitz and later starring in The Hobbit trilogy.
Playing dragon-slayer Bard the Bowman, Evans notched a new level of fame thanks to the blockbuster films.
“It was very weird, because for a long a time no one really recognized me from my films,” he told Collider. “But The Hobbit has totally changed that and I’ve had some really special moments, especially with youngsters.”
Evans says he’s “happy” he gets the chance to showcase his chops as an action star — and his range as an actor. When asked by Women’s Wear Daily in 2014 about being a gay actor playing action-hero roles, he replied: “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.”
He’s got a knack for playing the villain.
Before he took on the role of Disney’s Gaston, Evans snarled as a bad guy in the Fast and Furious franchise. He joined the franchise for its sixth installment, playing a London-based brute named Owen Shaw who tries to keep Vin Diesel‘s Dom from the presumed-dead Letty (Michelle Rodriguez).
After reuniting with Statham for Furious 7, the actor played the mysterious Scott Hipwell in the Emily Blunt-led The Girl on the Train.
He came back to his musical roots for the Disney classic.
Evans’ first love was always singing, which made signing on to play Gaston all the sweeter for the star. The actor wowed fans with his impeccable vocals, somehow making the vile war hero vying for Belle’s affection come across as almost charming.
On Saturday, Evans showed off his impressive pipes with a surprise a capella performance at the Sundance Film Festival following an exclusive screening and Q&A for The Alienist, serenading the room with a rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
Before his impromptu performance, Evans explained that his love of singing opened the door for his acting career.
“My dad was a builder and my mom was a cleaner, so acting was never really talked about in our house,” he explained to the audience. “So I loved singing, and I got a singing teacher when I was 16 and she got me an audition for a scholarship for a musical theater company in London, as an experience to see what an audition is like.”
In a surprise twist, Evans ended up snagging the scholarship.
“I went from working as a mail boy in a bank to going to full-time college, and I guess that’s when I thought I might be able to do this as a profession,” he said.
He’s close with his new costars.
Of filming in Budapest, Hungary, with Fanning and Brühl, Evans said at the Q&A that three actors “just got on.”
“With this job, you’re often pulled out of your comfort zone,” he said. “And very often you’re dropped into a part of the world you’ve never been, and you’re an orphan really. And us three orphans sort of found a common ground pretty quickly.”
“We’re very different — I’m Welch, she’s American, he’s German. There’s an age difference,” he continued. “But somehow we found this common ground. … I think you can really tell when people like each other on screen, I really do.”
The Alienist premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.