Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" movie is beefing up, with Luke Evans in negotiations to play the buff but brainless suitor Gaston and Dan Stevens in negotiations to play the fearsome yet kind-hearted Beast, The Times has confirmed.
Variety first reported the news about Evans, the 35-year-old Welsh actor who played the lead in "Dracula Untold" and the villain in "Fast & Furious 6." The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news about Stevens, 32, an Englishman best known for playing Matthew Crawley on TV's "Downton Abbey."
Both actors acknowledged their presumptive new roles on Twitter, with Evans linking to the Variety story and Stevens posting an image reading "Beast Mode."
Evans and Stevens would join "Harry Potter" star Emma Watson as Belle in the movie, which is being directed by Bill Condon ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn," "Dreamgirls") from a script written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and worked on by Steve Chbosky. Production is scheduled to begin later this year.
In Disney's 1991 animated musical version of "Beauty and the Beast," Gaston (voiced by Richard White) is a handsome jerk who unsuccessfully woos Belle, then leads an angry mob to kill her beloved Beast (Robby Benson). Evans could have particularly big shoes to fill, because, as everyone knows, no one's slick as Gaston, no one's quick as Gaston and no one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston's.
While Watson wrote on her Facebook page that it was "Time to start some singing lessons" back in January, "Beauty and the Beast" fans may be happy to know that Evans is a trained singer who has appeared in numerous stage musicals.
As for Stevens, he was once asked by Broadway.com what he thought about the idea of a "Downton" musical. He replied, "I sing occasionally, but I don't think you wanna hear me singing Matthew Crawley." If he needs lessons, he might not have to go far: His wife is a jazz vocalist and singing teacher.
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