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Luke Evans to Play Gaston in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Luke Evans is in negotiations to play the villainous Gaston in Disney’s live-action retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” which stars “Harry Potter” actress Emma Watson as Belle and “Downton Abbey” alum Dan Stevens as the Beast.

Bill Condon is directing, with David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman of Mandeville Films producing. The script was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and rewritten by Steve Chbosky.

Production will begin later this year. No release date has been set.

On Thursday, Watson confirmed Evans and Stevens’ casting via Twitter.

Stevens also tweeted his own message about securing the Beastly role.

In the original tale, Gaston was the handsome antagonist who tried to win Belle’s heart and, after losing it to the beast, led a group of townspeople on a hunt to kill the creature.

The studio’s 1991 animated feature version of “Beauty and the Beast” grossed more than $375 million worldwide, spawned a Broadway play and became one of the few animated pics to receive a best picture Oscar nomination.

Popular on Variety

Disney has several reboots of classic tales on the horizon, with “Cinderella,” starring Lily James, opening next Friday. Also in the works are 3-D retellings of “The Jungle Book” and “Pete’s Dragon.”

Evans, a busy actor in the fantasy realm of late, was last seen in New Line’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” He also starred in Universal’s “Dracula Untold” after playing the villain in “Fast and Furious 6.”

The Welsh actor can be seen next in Ben Wheatley’s “High Rise.” He is also currently shooting “Message From the King” alongside Chadwick Boseman, to be followed up with a starring role in another Wheatley film, “Free Fire.”

Evans is repped by United Agents and WME.

The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of Stevens’ casting.

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