10 Actors to Watch 2011: Luke Evans

It sounds like a little boy’s dream, getting to play Zeus, a Musketeer and a J.R.R. Tolkien character on the bigscreen.

But Welsh actor Luke Evans wanted to be a singer first and then became a staple of West End stages. He didn’t get his first film audition until turning 28.

“Singing is a very emotional thing, so if you just take away the tune, you’re still emoting,” says Evans from London, where — on a break from playing Bard the Bowman in “The Hobbit” — he’s attending the U.K. premiere of “The Three Musketeers.” In the newest remake of the classic tale he plays Aramis.

Soon after that gala, he’s on to another one. The actor will head Stateside for the launch of “Immortals,” in which he gets all Zeus-like.

The various roles may feel quite eclectic and the process a far cry from the West End, but the transition from green-screen-heavy, action-filled movies wasn’t that much of a leap.

“You’re still telling a story, there’s just not 1,000 people watching,” says the 32-year-old Evans, who will also be seen early next year as an inspector opposite John Cusack’s Edgar Allen Poe in the thriller, “The Raven.”

One thing Evans treasures is learning a specialized skill with each successive role.

“I can show jump a horse, I can shoot a 10-meter longbow, and I’ve gotten to learn French sword fighting,” says Evans of his most recent accomplishments. “I’ve relished every minute of it.”

He auditioned for “The Hobbit” over a year ago but it wasn’t until he attended Comic-Con in San Diego this past summer that he realized what being in the pic could do for his recognition factor. “I remember hearing, ‘Do you realize fans are going to see you as Bard the Bowman for the rest of your career?’ It hit home very quickly,” he recalls of the power of being associated with “The Lord of the Rings” franchise.

It’s the variety of roles and the chance to work with great people, though, that inspire Evans.

“If Peter Jackson was doing a horror film, I’d do it,” explains Evans. “I do a particular project because of the script and the director.”

Lucky break: “A play called ‘Small Change’ at the Donmar Warehouse in London. It opened the eyes of casting directors for movies for me. None of them knew who I was before this play.”
Favorite movie: “I can watch ‘Empire of the Sun’ over and over again.”
Career I’d like to emulate: “Anthony Hopkins. The guy has so much class about him. Even if I don’t like the film, I love what he does in it.”

10 ACTORS TO WATCH 2011:
Benedict Cumberbatch | Jean Dujardin | Luke Evans | Josh Hutcherson | Felicity Jones | Taylor Kitsch | Brit Marling | Elizabeth Olsen | Octavia Spencer | Shailene Woodley

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