For years, Wales-born actor Luke Evans has been part of bigger action and fantasy blockbusters like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and Fast and Furious 6, as well as genre films like Dracula Untold and The Raven. In Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ bestselling The Girl on the Train, Evans finally plays a more grounded role as a man dealing with domestic issues and a missing wife.
Evans plays Scott, who at first is merely one part of a seemingly loving couple that Emily Blunt’s Rachel sees as she passes their house on her train ride each day. When Scott’s wife Megan (Hayley Bennett) vanishes, Rachel gets closer to Scott and learns there’s more to Megan and Scott’s relationship than what she sees from the train.
LRM spoke with Evans from the New York junket a few weeks back.
LRM: This seems like a different type of role for you, maybe because you’ve done so much fantasy and action roles before, and this is more of a regular guy, so was that appealing to do that?
Luke Evans: Yes, exactly. It was nice to branch into realism and a contemporary story and put a jeans and T-shirt on instead of armor and bow and arrow and killer dragons, you know?
LRM: Did you know anything about the book beforehand or about Scott before you got the script?
Evans: I mean, look, you’d have to live under a rock if you hadn’t heard of The Girl on the Train, because everybody seems to have read it or was talking about it, so I read the script and then I picked up the book and read it.
LRM: What was your impression of Scott? He’s an interesting character because he falls somewhere between being abusive and possibly being a murderer? So what was your take on him?
Evans: Yeah, that was the point of him really is that you don’t know — as with all the characters. Rachel is the same. There’s so many moments with all of the characters where they could be the suspect, and I think that’s the thing. I think Tate and I had a conversation about presenting Scott in all the different lights, so the audience has to make their own decision on whether he’s the killer or not, but he does have a temper, and you see that in the film, which is actually what we added to allow the audience a little confusion of… is he the killer, is he not? So a lot of playing with scenes and emotions and his behavior, so that it’s not as straight-forward or obvious as to who is the killer?
LRM: How difficult is it to shoot a movie like this where a lot of it is non-linear and out of order and we see you and Rachel at different points? How is it shooting a film that has those layers?
Evans: Obviously, it must be a hell of a film to cut together, because of all the different storylines and how they interact with each other, and how much information to give out because at a certain point, it was a mind f**k for Tate and the editor. But I think they do a really good job, because for the people I know who saw the movie with me last week at the premiere, they hadn’t seen the film and they completely weren’t confused as to who was it until very nearly the end, so I liked that.
LRM: Is it harder playing a character like this that has that sort of grey area? Since you have to play it in a way to throw viewers off, so is that hard as an actor?
Evans: No, because it was based in the now and the present. I just focused on the reality of his situation and just based my performance on what he was going through. I didn’t think about anything else, really. It’s just about telling you a story, and it’s weird, because a lot of the characters are encapsulated in their own little storylines and I don’t really interact with anybody apart from Rachel, to be honest, and Hayley as Megan, so it was just also the telling you a story and allowing the rest to unfold through the eyes of Rachel and also the editorial situation that’s being worked out by Tate and the editor.
LRM: You mentioned going back to read the book, so was there anything about Scott you were able to get from the book that maybe wasn’t in the script?
Evans: No, I think Scott was fleshed out even more in the script than he was in the book to my liking. I also thought I got plenty from the script, to be honest.
LRM: When I spoke to Tate, he gave me a question to ask you because I wasn’t sure what I could ask you without spoiling too much of the movie's plot. This is his question: “What do you think Scott sees in Megan or who does he think she is when he marries her?”
Evans: I think he’s infatuated with her — she’s stunning obviously, Hayley Bennett, if you look at her she’s absolutely gorgeous — and I think he fell in love with her, and I think it was a whirlwind romance. I think he proposed incredibly quickly, and I don’t think they were perfectly matched. I don’t think he could see that at the time, neither could she. I think she was also looking for a father figure and a loving figure in her life. She’s obviously been treated badly. She’s been through a terrible experience, and she’s always looking for that acknowledgement and love from different sources, and he seems to fit that bill very well for her. He’s older than her, he’s protecting her—but obviously, a little bit damaged that’s been caused by her past experiences in life, and she hadn’t addressed it and really hadn’t dealt with it in therapy. I think very quickly after they were married her life with him was breaking down quickly. It seems to me that Megan and all the problems she’s had and the fact she lost a baby and all those terrible things that happened to her as you realize in the film, was affecting her present life. She was punishing herself in a way by sabotaging everything that was good or that could have been good in her life, and that’s a very common trait in people that have such terrible things in their life. They feel like they’re responsible and they don’t deserve anything good, and I think she was definitely sabotaging their relationship. She could have talked to him and they could have dealt with it. He desperately wanted children and she didn’t and he didn’t know why. You know why but he didn’t, so I think he loved her desperately. He was frustrated with her, and obviously she was shutting down and not speaking to him. It’s very difficult in a relationship if two people aren’t communicating and they’re hiding things from each other.
LRM: That’s a great answer and I’m glad Tate gave me that insightful question. Last time we spoke was a couple years ago when you were playing Dracula. You recently played Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” coming out next year. These are both very well known characters, so is that a challenge playing characters who have such big footprints and expectations?
Evans: What’s nice is that you don’t have to describe these characters from baseline when no one knows who they are, and I quite like the fact that people already have an idea and they’ve either fallen in love with the character or they don’t like the character, but they’ve had time to chew on the idea of this person from a book and then me bringing it to life in a different incarnation. I think that’s quite exciting.
LRM: Have you had a chance to see “Beauty and the Beast” with all the effects done?
Evans: I have, yeah. I’ve seen a few versions of it now, and every time, more and more of the special FX and CGI has been rendered, and it looks incredible, absolutely breathtaking. You take a step back and actually realize that you’re looking at animation.
LRM: At one point, Universal wanted to do some sort of Universal Monsters team-up and they are working on other movies right now. Have you heard any word on whether you might return as Vlad later?
Evans: There has been talk and conversations. The bigger picture is exciting for all the monsters they own — there is talk about it — I don’t know how it will all manifest itself but I think it will happen, and I think they’re just working out how these monsters interact and end up in the same realm with each other.
LRM: Just figuring out how to make it work…
Evans: Yeah, if you can stick Captain America in a scene with Iron Man and Thor, I think you can definitely put Wolf Man, Invisible Man, the Mummy and Dracula in the same film as well.
LRM: “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” is one of my favorite movies, so hopefully it will be at least as fun as that. You’ve been keeping busy with movie roles, so have you not had time to do stuff on stage anymore and something you’d like to get back to?
Evans: No, I definitely want to. You have to devote six months of your life if you’re going to do something on stage, but maybe next year is the time for me, since it’ll have been ten years since I’ve been on stage next year, so maybe that would be the perfect time to do it. But it’s also finding the right role, the right project, whether it’s a period piece or a revival or something brand new. I’m open to ideas, but I definitely think it’s coming.
LRM: Have you done anything on Broadway yet?
Evans: I haven’t been on Broadway yet, I’d like to, yeah.
LRM: I missed “Message from the King” at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), but do you have any idea when we might see that? I’ve heard good things about it.
Evans: No, I think it went down quite well in Toronto. Yeah, I wasn’t actually there unfortunately, but I mean it’s a very dark, gritty underworld of Los Angeles kind of revenge-driven thriller, but it was very fun to play. It was also nice to shoot in Los Angeles, which is very unusual.