With Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arriving on Blu-ray tomorrow, I recently landed an exclusive interview with Luke Evans (he plays Bard the Bowman). As most of you know, the film continues the adventures of Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the band of dwarves as they move forward on their quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor, all the while Gandalf (Ian McKellen) investigates a disturbing presence that may be returning to Middle Earth. Smaug introduces a host of other new characters like the Master of Lake-town (Stephen Fry), and the elves Thranduil (Lee Pace) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), but the film also sees the return of Lord of the Rings favorite Legolas (Orlando Bloom).
During the interview Evans talked about his experiences being part of The Hobbit movies, deleted scenes, doing additional photography for the Battle of the Five Armies (which takes place in The Hobbit: There and Back Again), having young fans recognize him, and more. Evans also talked about Dracula: Untold, The Crow remake, his thoughts on an Immortals sequel, wanting to direct, and what props he’s kept. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
LUKE EVANS: I’m good. What are you doing in Vegas?
I was here for CinemaCon.
EVANS: Oh, right, nice. Did you see anything from The Hobbit or Dracula?
They didn’t show anything from Dracula, but I did see a few brief clips from the third Hobbit movie, There and Back Again. Obviously I love the Hobbit movies and the footage we saw looked great. I mean, it’s Peter Jackson.
EVANS: Yeah, awesome.
Talk a little bit about what this experience has been like being a part of The Hobbit?
EVANS: It’s interesting, It’s quite an organic journey I’ve been on with The Hobbit, because obviously I wasn’t in the first film. I watched from a distance as everybody else, enjoyed the premiere, and watched the characters being taken in by the fans and all that. But then obviously when the second film came out that was very exciting because I got to see, as well as the rest of the world, Bard the Bowman come to life. It’s been really lovely watching and reading the positive reception around the world, and different fans all really enjoying Bard and liking his story and liking me playing him. So it’s been a positive experience so far.
What was the first time a kid or a young fan came up to you and recognized you and sort of had that freak out moment? Or has that not happened to you?
EVANS: It happens to me almost every day now [laughs]. It was very weird because for a long a time no one really recognized me from my films, but The Hobbit has totally changed that and I’ve had some really special moments, especially with youngsters. I took my grandparents to this mine in South Whales a couple of months ago. It’s a mine that you go underground, it’s like a museum, it’s really cool. In the parking lot there were these two little girls, one was ten and one was eight, and I didn’t even notice them with their parents. After the tour we went to the café and then we left the café and the little girls mum came running out. She says, “Look, I hope you don’t mind, but my daughter thinks you’re the character from The Hobbit and I know you’re not, but would you just pretend that you are for a second, because she’s obsessed and she thinks it’s you and she followed you into this café.” And I was like, “I am Bard the Bowman,” and she couldn’t believe it. She went, “Please come and meet my daughter.” So I went back into this café and this little kid, she couldn’t quite believe it, but she said, “I told you it was him! I knew it was him!” Stories like that are really special and really nice.
EVANS: Yeah, it’s weird. It’s this strange thing though, because it’s such a small thing you have to do. The effect you have sometimes when you meet the fans, it’s weird. It’s surreal, but it’s lovely. You can put a smile on their face and that’s always nice.
I’m definitely curious with the second film, do you know if there’s a longer cut that has more of your footage in it?
EVANS: You know what, I don’t know, but if Lord of the Rings is anything to go by, I’m sure there probably will be at some point an extended version, a director’s cut and all of that to come out as the time goes by. I’m quite sure that three will be extra scenes that Bard is in that you’ll see, definitely, yeah.
I’m so anticipating the final Hobbit installment. I know they did some additional photography last year. Did you do any of that additional photography? Or what can you tease people about the last Hobbit installment?
EVANS: Well yes, I did do lots of filming when I went back. I actually worked incredibly hard in that pickup session, which took about a month and bit. It was epic, we were finishing little bits and scenes for the second film, but the majority of the time I spent back in New Zealand was to shoot the third movie and obviously we have the big Battle of the Five Armies and all that stuff. So there’s a huge amount happening in the third film, which I’m not allowed to talk very much about because I’ll be talking about it again in December and I don’t want to spoil it for people, but it’s going to be huge. It’s going to have a massive ending.
EVANS: Yeah, I think Peter wants it to be a spectacle of enormous proportions.
I spoke to Mark Canton the producer of Immortals during the 300: Rise of an Empire junket and he mentioned that they’re actually trying to develop an Immortals sequel. Has he said anything about that to you?
EVANS: No, that’s news to me.
He definitely said it to me on camera.
EVANS: As long as I don’t have to wear a gold skirt again, I’ll maybe think about it [laughs].
[Laughs] That’s good. One of the other things I’m really looking forward to that you’ve finished filming is Dracula: Untold. What can you tease people about the project?
EVANS: Well it’s huge, again. It’s a massive, sweeping story about the man behind a fictional character. We start in the 1400’s and It’s about this character, this historical figure Vlad Tepes who was a king and a leader, an immense warrior, he had the love and respect of his people, and it’s about him as much as it’s about his transformation and what makes him turn into this creature of the night, this vampire. It’s an origin story, if you will. It’s a huge story. There’s a massive amount of emotional thread and it has all the elements you’d want from a sweeping drama about a time long gone.
For that project or anything recently, has there been a new skill set you’ve added to the repertoire, if you will? In terms of doing the action set pieces or just in general.
EVANS: Yeah, well there’s lot of skill sets. Fighting is always a new one, because every film, every fight choreographer, wants to have a different flair, have a different fight technique. So any film I’ve done that involved weapons has always been fascinating because everyone is different. The fight sequences I did on Dracula are enormous, they’re absolutely enormous. There are points where I was fighting literally hundreds of people and they were all there, hundreds of stunt men. Same thing with The Hobbit in the third installment. There is this huge battle of five armies and I play such an integral role in that physically, it was incredibly demanding. That stuff is always really enjoyable to do.
I put on Twitter that I was going to be talking to you and I cannot even explain how many people wanted me to ask about The Crow. Is that still going on? Can you talk a little bit about hat?
EVANS: Yeah, I can’t talk a huge amount about it because it’s all sort of quite top secret, but yes it is. We’re moving forward. It’s a big movie and it takes a lot to get everything in order. It’s getting the schedules together. But yeah, the wheels are moving forward and we plan to make that soon.
That’s what I wanted to ask you about, do you know what your schedule is like for this upcoming year? What are you getting ready to film this year.
EVANS: Well The Crow is obviously there. I have to work that and there’s a few independent films which I am in the process of attaching myself to. One is a romantic film, very tragic romance, which is beautiful. It comes from a very famous novel, which I’m really excited about. I’m hoping to do that, it’s something I’m really passionate about. Then I’m trying to sort out a short film that I’m writing with a friend of mine, which I would like to direct for my own self, really. I’d like to do that. Then obviously I start the publicity tour for Dracula and then straight after that I’ll be starting the publicity tour for The Hobbit, so it’s quite a busy year.
EVANS: Oh yeah, you can’t really do anything else when you’re doing those. Weirdly I will be doing two at the end of the year which overlap with both the press tours. I’ll be stopping a film and doing the press tour, and then going back to the film and starting another one, stopping for The Hobbit and then going back to it in 2015. You just have to work around it. Most of the time people understand you have to do it. It’s part of the job. People want to hear your stories about these wonderful experiences you have and that’s what press tours are for.
If I can ask you about directing, is that something that you’ve been passionate for a long time? And regarding a short film, some shorts are 3-5 minutes, some are 15-30, what are you envisioning for your short film?
EVANS: I think it’ll probably end up being about a 20-minute film, I’d say. I’m not exactly sure because we haven’t totally finished the script yet, but I’m writing something with the guy who wrote The Great Train Robbery with me; I did a movie for BBC at the end of last year called The Great Train Robbery and it was great, we really enjoyed it. Directing is something I’ve sort of always felt like I’d like to do at one point and I thought the best way to start it is to write something myself or with someone and I’d go from there. My own material. So yeah, that’s where I am with it right now.
It’s interesting, I just talked to Chris Evans and he just directed his first feature and it’s something that he’s very passionate about as well.
EVANS: Yeah, that’s with Alice Eve, right?
EVANS: Yeah, I know Alice, she’s lovely. I think some actors just would like to do it. I guess once you’ve been acting for a long time you glean the great bits of good directors and the bad bits from other directors and you know the way that you would like to be directed. Sometimes some great directors were formerly—look at Clint Eastwood, for example. There’s a lot of directors who were actors, so they have the sensibility of an actor, which sometimes helps.
What have you gleaned from the great directors you’ve worked with that you’d like to apply towards your directing career? Is there one things you’ve always noticed with great directors?
EVANS: I think the best directors rarely loose their temper. I think the best directors provide you with a safe environment where they can instill you with confidence and allow you to try things out and not feel like your failing or that you’re doing it wrong. Every option that you give the director, he makes you feel like that’s a valid option and they can bank that and try different ways. Peter Jackson is a brilliant example of a director who never makes you feel like you’ve done it wrong, he just makes you feel like you’ve given him a different option and then to try it some other way. I think that’s the thing, because that doesn’t make an actor feel insecure, it makes him feel confident, so that’s a good thing. So yeah, that’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve noticed in good directors is they make you feel good and not bad about what you choose to do.
My last thing, and I’ve asked this of a lot of people, is there anything that you collect?
EVANS: Weirdly, I’ve been collecting my weapons [laughs] from the big movies I’ve done that had a weapon that was synonymous with my character. So I’ve been keeping the swords basically from the different films I’ve been doing. So yeah, I have a little armory in my house nowadays.
I think you are now the envy of so many people who are Hobbit fans and Dracula and all that stuff.
EVANS: [Laughs] Well once the third one comes out, I’ll tweet a few pictures of the weapon that I was gifted from Weta and Peter and the team down in New Zealand, which I can’t yet because nobody knows about it, but it’s very special.